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For Immediate Release
November 29, 2010

Second Postmedia newspaper refuses ‘In Memoriam’ for killed Mexican opponent of Canadian mine

An ‘In Memoriam’ classified ad to be run on November 27 on behalf of the family of murdered anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca R. was called "unsuitable" by the Calgary Herald, and then ‘propaganda’ by a representative of the Edmonton Journal although other Canadian newspapers including the Globe and Mail have published it.

The Herald notified on November 25 that they were refusing 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 Mexico awaiting court appearances related to his murder.

“Two days after the original refusal the Calgary Herald got back in touch and indicated that they might be willing to run the ‘In Memoriam’, but only if all references to Blackfire Exploration Ltd were removed,” says Rick Arnold, coordinator for Common Frontiers-Canada. “We aren’t going to agree to self-censure and to remove information that is based on statements of fact.”

Then on Friday November 26 the Edmonton Journal, also a Postmedia paper, let it be known that they were reversing an earlier acceptance to publish. Earlier that day the paper had sent back a mock-up for final approval, requested payment (done via credit card), and then phoned to confirm that the Saturday publication was going ahead.

“I got a call at 7 p.m. on Friday from the classifieds supervisor for the Journal who told me that the ‘In Memoriam’ would not be published. It was when I asked for some sort of explanation for this sudden reversal that I was told that they didn’t carry ‘propaganda’,” says Arnold.

Journal management also claimed that since the credit card payment had not actually been processed before the reversal decision was taken, no agreement on running the item existed.

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 has since been closed by the state environmental ministry. 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.

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For more information please contact:

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

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