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For Immediate Release
November 26, 2010

‘In Memoriam’ for murdered Mexican anti-mining activist refused by Calgary Herald

An ‘In Memoriam’ classified ad to be run on November 27th on behalf of the family of murdered anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca R. has been called "unsuitable" by the Calgary Herald, though several other Canadian newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal, have agreed to print it. UPDATE - Late on Nov 26, the Edmonton Journal informed Common Frontiers that they would also be refusing to print the item.

"We are confused about why the Calgary Herald would refuse a paid ‘In Memoriam’ on the anniversary of the death of Mariano Abarca. Former employees of Blackfire Exploration, a Calgary-based firm, are in jail in Chiapas, Mexico awaiting court appearances related to his murder. We sincerely hope the Herald is not simply trying to avoid controversy from a local company," says Rick Arnold, coordinator of Common Frontiers.

Abarca, a leading anti-mining activist in the community of Chicomuselo, in the State of Chiapas, Mexico, was gunned down outside his house on November 27, 2009. The Blackfire barite mining operation near the town of Chicomuselo, which Abarca and his community were opposing, was closed by state environmental authorities a week later, on December 7, 2009. A Canadian delegation to Chiapas in April this year found a community devastated by environmental destruction, intimidation, violence, and bad mining practices.

While in Canada in September of this year, Jose Luis Abarca Montejo, the youngest son of the murdered mining activist, spoke publicly about how he holds Blackfire responsible for the death of his father, who had complained to local authorities about receiving death threats from Blackfire employees before he was killed.

"Intimidation, violence and even murder are not unusual occurrences around the world where mining companies, many of them based in Canada, sometimes operate with impunity," says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians, one of 36 civil society organizations which signed a letter November 22 condemning the Canadian government’s failure to pass Bill C-300. The act would have held Canadian mining companies accountable for overseas violations of human rights and environmental standards. A report commissioned by Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada also pointed to Canadian companies as some of the worst offenders.

This Saturday, to mark the one-year anniversary of Mariano Abarca’s death, residents of Chicomuselo are holding a mass, a mid-day public information session on the legal status of the case, and an evening vigil at the Mariano Abarca family home. Several churches in Calgary are now considering reading out or posting the ‘In Memoriam’ in response to the Herald’s denial.

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For more information please contact:

Common Frontiers - Rick Arnold (905) 352-2430 - comfront@web.ca

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