Residents of municipalities near San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, where Minera Cuzcatlán operates, reported that local authorities have tried to blackmail them into signing documents, urging SEMARNAT to deny the company's environmental permit (EIA). Additionally, residents said they fear being excluded from social programs and other processes if they do not sign the petition
Furthermore, Ocotes´ residents said they were more concerned since in addition to signing, authorities are asking for their identification card and CURP, which are used to carry out more complicated procedures. "In other communities they are only asking for signatures, but here they are asking for these government identification documents supposedly so that SEMARNAT does not give the mining company an extension. However, we think something worse is happening because these documents should not be requested,” the protesters said.
Residents have accused the representative of the Vigilance Council, Carlos López Jarquí, of collecting the signatures. Meanwhile, in Magdalena Ocotlan, the president of the Ejidal Commissariat, Roberto Feliciano Aquino Méndez, the president of the Supervisory Council, Francisco Pérez Cosme, and the municipal president, Pedro Máximo Aquino Sánchez have been identified as responsible for pressuring the residents to sign the petition. In addition, the municipal president Pedro Máximo Aquino Méndez and the City Hall Secretary, Berenice Aquino Méndez, have also been accused of pressuring the population.
In 2009, SEMARNAT granted an environmental permit to Minera Cuzcatlán that authorized the construction, execution and maintenance of the San José Mine until October 2021. In May, the company applied to extend its permit for an additional 10 years. The extension is a standard procedure that is generally granted when companies comply with the requirements as Minera Cuzcatlán did, the company reported. Nevertheless, its application was rejected. Currently, the company continues to operate thanks to a provisional injunction from a federal court. However, it is only temporary.
Last week, approximately 800 workers from the Minera Cuzcatlán and residents of San José del Progreso protested to demand the authorization of the company's environmental permit. Protesters expressed that if SEMANRNAT does not approve the extension of the company's EIA, the main source of employment in the area will be lost.
The company is currently working with SEMARNAT and the government to solve this problem. However, in the absence of a formal response to its request for an extension of its permit, the company has filed an appeal against SEMARNAT's decision in an effort to continue operating.