New twist in Canadian Blackfire investigation

The Canadian embassy in Mexico provided "active and unquestioning support" to Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration after the 2009 murder of a prominent local activist in Chiapas, according to a MiningWatch Canada report made available Monday to La Presse and the Toronto Star.

The report derives its findings from 900 pages of  Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade emails and briefings obtained through Canada's Access to Information Act.

Mariano Abarca – who headed the protest against Blackfire's Chiapas operations – was shot and killed in November of 2009. Shortly thereafter, Blackfire's Chiapas barite mine was forced to close by Mexican authorities on charges of environmental violations.

The Canadian RCMP undertook an investigation in 2011, eventually alleging that Blackfire paid a Chiapas mayor to protect the company from anti-mining protestors, which Blackfire denied.

Blackfire released a statement last week claiming that they were "cooperating fully" in the ongoing investigation.

Canadian mining companies are under increasing pressure abroad from local and activist groups. In February of this year, a group of masked men broke into Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold's mine site in Halkidiki, Greece, setting fire to machinery

In March, tens of thousands of Colombians took to the streets to protest the exploration efforts of Canadian company Eco Oro in Bucaramanga.

 

To read more on the Blackfire/Abarca case, click here.

Sources: Julian Sher, reporting for the Toronto Star; CBC; The Vancouver Sun