BRIEFING NOTE: Ejido La Sierrita Receives Payment for Rent of Its Lands to Mining Company Excellon Resources

Mexico City, February 4, 2015.- On January 23, 2015, the Sixth District Agrarian Tribunal, based in Torreón, Coahuila, notified the parties of its decision to release the payment for the rent of lands belonging to the communal landowners of La Sierrita by mining company Excellon de Mexico, subsidiary of Canadian company Excellon Resources Inc. The rent was released following the decision of the Third District Judge, based in La Laguna, to award an injunction (amparo) to La Sierrita, ordering the Agrarian Tribunal to proceed with the release of the total rent payment.

The rent, which amounts to just over 7 million pesos, is a contractual obligation under the agreement signed by La Sierrita and Excellon in 2008 and had been deposited with the Sixth District Agrarian Tribunal since 2013. Given the fact that the payment was made in 2013, the decision to release the money to the ejido does not involve any extra expense which might affect the company’s financial stability. In this regard, neither job security in the company’s La Platosa mine, nor the company’s corporate social responsibility investment program for the benefit of the community of Bermejillo have been put at risk.

Juan Antonio López, Coordinator of ProDESC’s Area of Transnational Justice, stated that the Agrarian Tribunal Magistrate refused to relinquish possession of a surety bond for funds to pay for educational scholarships for the communal landowners’ children. “With this attitude, the Agrarian Tribunal Magistrate continues to violate human rights, in this case, the communal landowners’ children’s right to education,” said López. López added that the Magistrate must fully comply with his obligation to release the entire rent payment in order to provide “actual access to justice.”

To quote the press release published on January 30 by the Project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Proyecto de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), “As a result of the ruling, serious harm to the ejido’s communal life has been averted and the ejido’s trust in law enforcement institutions has been restored, particularly in relation to their impartiality and their compliance with the obligation to respect, protect and guarantee the human rights of communities.”

During the press conference which took place on January 30, David Espinoza Rentería, President of the Ejido La Sierrita Assembly (Comisariado Ejidal), stated that the ejido had succeeded in “taking a large step towards ensuring respect for their right to access to justice.” With regard to the ongoing trial for the rescission of the Temporary Occupancy Agreement, Espinoza said that it is extremely important that the Magistrate “takes into account all that is legal” and that he rules in favor of the ejido. “We truly believe that we, the ejido, are in the right, because the truth is on our side and we fight from the heart,” he added.

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