The images for this photo essay were taken in three Zapotec communities in different regions of Oaxaca, united through their ongoing work to find new, shared strategies for defending their territories. Exhibits of these photos have been one of those tools.
Nearly 80% of the land in Oaxaca is communally owned, mostly by indigenous people, and the Mexican government is one of 20 countries that has signed the International Labor Organization Convention 169. The convention guarantees indigenous peoples the right to free, prior, and informed consent, or consultas, regarding all policy and development processes that affect them. But in Mexico, as the federal government constitutionally enjoys sub-soil rights, it regularly—and increasingly—grants exploration and mining concessions to transnational mining companies without holding the consultas. In the past few years alone, the Mexican government has granted roughly 12,000 mining concessions throughout the country, with some 30% in the state of Oaxaca.
For more information read articles: Justice for San Jose del Progreso – Civilian Observation Mission Report, A Mine, a Movement and a Town Divided, Peoples’ Encounter in Resistance Against the Extractive Mining Model in Mexico, Mexican mine opponents held incommunicado