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Tonight, we lost a comrade. Someone who understood very well that it was cheaper for Fortuna Silver to divide his people and for paramilitaries and police to repress them than it was for the company to consult with the community. Someone who could debunk "Corporate Social Responsibility" based on his own experience, and connect it to capitalism and the state. Someone who hadn't yet had children, he told me when I met him in February, but who hoped to, some day.
Bernardo Vasquez Sanchez was a clear spoken Zapotec activist, a brother, son, and cousin, who dared to stand up against a mining project in the territory of his people. He was well aware that a paramilitary group was operating in San José Progreso, Oaxaca, and that it was organized to snuff out opposition to a gold mine, owned by Vancouver based Fortuna Silver.
Bernardo was killed March 15th at 9pm, when gunmen opened fire on his car. His cousin, Rosalinda Dionicio Sánchez, and his brother Andres Vásquez Sánchez, are in hospital with bullet wounds. Though there's few details, one thing is clear: this was a political hit. Bernardo was murdered because he dared to speak out, ignoring the climate of fear imposed upon his people.
Tonight, we mourn Bernardo and pray for Rosalinda and Andres. We remember Bernardo's words and his resistance, and we ask, who will speak up for San José now that he is gone?
-Dawn Paley, Vancouver Media Co-op.
Bernardo Vásquez, opposition leader against Fortuna Silver, Assassinated
By Proyecto Ambulante, March 15, 2012.
At approximately 21:00, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez was murdered. He was an activist against Fortuna Silver's mine in San José Progreso, Oaxaca, and a member of the Coordinating Committee of the United Villages of the Ocotlan Valley.
The killing took place at the entrance to Santa Lucia Ocotlan, where he was ambushed together with his companions Rosalinda Dionicio Sánchez, and Andres Vésquez Sánchez (Bernardo's brother).
It is not yet known who the perpetrators were, but his companions, who were badly wounded, assumed that they were people who politically opposed him.
On January 19th, 2012, Vásquez Sánchez said that San José's town councilor ordered municipal police to fire at people protesting the laying of pipes leading to Fortuna's mine, leaving two wounded [one of the two, Bernardo Vásquez Méndez, died from his wounds].