Villagers from the community of La Colorada in the central northern Mexican state of Zacatecas claim they were violently evicted by armed security forces hired by the Canadian mining company Pan American Silver.
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Guards carrying long arms forced 47 families to leave their homes and then destroyed them with heavy machinery, the people, including children and elderly people, were forcibly relocated to houses made of sheet metal in a neighborhood built by the company. They can use those houses for free until Feb. 13, according to a report by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada.
Villagers of the rural community in the municipality of Chalchihuites, an archaeological hub, said that the mining giant evicted them to exploit gold, silver and copper deposits in the area.
Pan American Silver arrived in 1998 to develop a mine in La Colorada, nearly 150 miles west of the city of Zacatecas, on the border with Durango state. The Vancouver-based silver producer said in 2013 that was conducting a US$164 million expansion at that mine.
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The undertaking began in January 2014 and is designed to increase the operation’s annual silver production by 67 percent to 7.7 million ounces of silver per year by 2018, up from 4.6 million ounces in 2013.
The company operates mines in the United States, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
The evicted villagers, most of them humble farmers, largely live off their land. Some of them worked for the company but were dismissed in a 2015 mass layoff. They have already filed a complaint and next Wednesday there will be a hearing at an agrarian court.