Photo: Wirikuta Fest partakers
Thousands of people attended a festival this weekend in Mexico City to show their support for the efforts of the Wixarika Indians to protect their land and learn more about indigenous culture.
The Wirikuta Fest, which was held Saturday at Mexico City’s Foro Sol, drew more than 50,000 people, who enjoyed over 12 hours of music.
Festivalgoers expressed support for the Wixaricas, whose sacred land of Wirikuta is threatened by companies that have obtained mining rights.
Cafe Tacvba, Calle 13, Enrique Bunbury and Julieta Venegas were among the performers at the festival, which also featured activities designed to show the public the importance of the Indian group.
Different grassroots groups, such as the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining, offered talks on the environmental impact of mining.
Environmental and human rights groups, such as Greenpeace, Anima Naturalis and Amnesty International, were also represented at the festival.
Indians dressed in traditional clothing performed songs and dances at various locations.
The Colectivo Aho, which organized the festival, said the goal was to raise money for the defense of Wirikuta and to draw public attention to the problems being faced by the Indians.
The government released a protection plan Thursday for the area, prompting the Front for the Defense of Wirikuta to label the move part of a “strategy” to capitalize on media coverage of the festival and promote an image of “social responsibility” for the administration.
In 2009, Canadian firm First Majestic Silver was awarded nearly two dozen concessions in Wirikuta, a desert area in the central state of San Luis Potosi that is an annual pilgrimage site for the Huichol, or Wixarika, people.
Some 70 percent of the concessions are located in the 140,200 hectares (346,170 acres) that were declared a protected reserve in 2001.
Minera Golondrina, a unit of Canada’s Lake Shore Gold, also plans to operate an open-pit gold mine - one of the most highly polluting methods - in Wirikuta.
First Majestic’s Real Bonanza unit holds 22 mining concessions, while two West Timmins Mining subsidiaries, Golondrinas and Cascabel, also operate in the area.
The Huichol Indians regard Wirikuta, declared part of UNESCO’s global network of sacred sites in 1988, as a sacred, indivisible and continuous territory.
They say one area in particular, the Cerro Quemado, is where the sun was first born and is therefore an important altar within the Wirikuta territory.