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Monday, 13 April 2015

Strange clarification from McEwen Mining, and tone deafness in Canada

The Canadian team at McEwen 

The comments were front page news in Mexico – and still are. They also received coverage in leading English-language outlets around the world. The startling admission was covered by the Associated Press. Outlets that picked up the story included ABC, CNBC, and the Daily Mail.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Doing business the Canadian way: McEwen Mining has a “good relationship” with Mexican cartel

In a recent interview on Business News Network, the CEO of McEwen Mining, Rob McEwen, made some revealing statements as to how his mining company conducts business in Mexico.
Rob McEwen on BNN

Discussing the circumstances surrounding the theft of $8.5 million worth of gold concentrate from his company’s mine in Sinaloa, Mexico, Mr. McEwen said, “The cartels are active down there…Generally, we’ve had a good relationship with them.”

What does it mean for a Canadian mining company to have a “good relationship” with a drug cartel?

In the interview, McEwen said: “If we want to go somewhere, we ask them. And they say ‘No, come back in a couple of weeks when we have finished what we are doing.'"

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Passport of former Calderón official recovered from Venezuela drug crash

Norberto Miranda Pérez, 51, a former area director for the Mexican Attorney General’s (PGR) Air Services Directorate (Dirección General de Servicios Aéreos, or “DGSA”), appears to have died when the drug trafficking plane he was piloting crashed in Venezuela.
Cocaine packages recovered from the wreckage

Venezuelan officials say that the crash occurred on April 2. When they went to the crash site in Cañaote, within the Girardot municipality of Cojedes state, they recovered about a ton of cocaine (999 kilos) from the wreckage. All four crew and passengers had died.

Canadian-owned mine knocked off for $8.5 million in gold concentrate

As the CJNG cartel battles it out with local, state, and federal authorities in Jalisco, the criminal element in Sinaloa is pulling off gold heists: on Tuesday, April 7, Canada's McEwen Mining Inc. reported that armed robbers walked off with an estimated 900 kilograms of gold-bearing concentrate, containing approximately 7,000 ounces of gold, from its El Gallo 1 mine in western Mexico.
McEwen's operations in western Mexico (Source: McEwen Mining Inc.)

But this isn’t the same as knocking off Fort Knox.

“No mines in Mexico have gold,” says David Robillard, a Mexico City-based advisor on business and reputational risk. “It takes a lot of technology and work to refine it into what we call gold.”

How much work? Robillard says that to refine the concentrate, otherwise known as “doré”, would require another $100 million investment.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Heating up the plaza in Jalisco

It’s been dubbed the worst attack in recent years against any arm of the Mexican state: on Monday, April 6, at least 15 of Jalisco’s elite State police (Fuerza Única Jalisco) were killed and five others wounded in an ambush. On the same day, the chief of police in Zacoalco de Torres, just west of Lake Chapala, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered.
Burnt out truck after ambush

The location of the ambush was the Soyatán region, not far from Puerto Vallarta. The police were apparently traveling from Vallarta to the state capital, Guadalajara. None of the attackers died.

This has all of the hallmarks of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG), though the government has not confirmed their participation. The CJNG made a name for itself taking on the ultra-violent Zetas cartel in Jalisco, cleaning up the “plaza” for the dominant Sinaloa Cartel.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

TPP Investment Chapter: How to Annihilate an Industrial Strategy

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “Investment Chapter” was released by Wikileaks on March 25, and revealed a rather confused view of what has been going on during the secret trade negotiations between the 12 parties representing 40 per cent of the world’s GDP (Vietnam, USA, Singapore, Peru, New Zealand, Mexico, Malaysia, Japan, Chile, Canada, Brunei, Australia).
The Wikileaks TPP investment cartoon

The TPP Investment Chapter is dated 20 January 2015. According to Wikileaks, the document is classified, and to be kept secret for four years from either the completion of the agreement or, should it not come to fruition, the close of negotiations.

Presumably, after four years the TPP will have been normalized to the extent that it will no longer be “news”. There is simply no other way to explain why the citizens of the affected nations would be denied access to information on how their labor, assets, and national patrimonies are being peddled.

But perhaps we should know. The TPP is, after all, the largest economic treaty in history.

The Grapes of Wrath, 2015: Mexico’s slave labor problem

After Mexican officials freed 200 indigenous Rarámuri working in slave-like conditions in Baja California Sur earlier this month, more abuses have come to light. Just this week, forty-nine indigenous Mixtecs were found working in similar conditions in a Colima cucumber field, on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Work camp in Baja Sur

Since the first story broke, 452 people in Mexico have been rescued from what amounted to indentured servitude. Many of the victims are indigenous, and working far from home.  

The Rarámuri found in Baja California Sur, for example, hailed from the small town of Creel, Chuhuahua. They were then supposedly sent to Comondú by a company called Corporativo El Cerezo Sociedad Agrícola. The head offices for this company don’t actually exist: the address is simply a piece of land, a former hacienda owned by former president Vicente Fox and his two brothers.