BY LIZ FERGUSON, SPECIAL TO THE MONTREAL GAZETTE, MONTREAL GAZETTE
NOVEMBER 24, 2014
Oh dear, yet another film about Canadian mining companies behaving badly. As a human being and a Canadian, I am sad that this is such a fertile topic for documentaries. Just a few days ago, I saw Marmato, about disruptions in that Colombian town when a Canadian company started buying hundreds of small gold mines there.
On Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, Cinema Politica will show Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians. I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailer looks fascinating.
The Huicholes are an indigenous group in Mexico (they call themselves Wixaritari). They have lived in the area between the Sierra Madre Occidental and Zacatecas mountains, in the state of San Luis Potosí, since time immemorial. But the land that is sacred to them and the peyote that they use in their rituals are in danger, because that land also contains gold and silver deposits. In the film’s trailer a man from mining company First Majestic Silver says that the operation could provide jobs for 15 years. (Five hundred direct jobs, and 1,500 indirect ones.) That’s a relatively short time, in the grander scheme of things, and not that many people either, while the price to pay in environmental damage could be quite high. The area is very dry, but mining requires and pollutes lots of water.
An article on the web site of This Magazine is quite informative, though it does date from 2011. “In the southern reaches of the Chihuahuan desert is an area known as Wirikuta, a sacred site for the Huichol people. Every year, hundreds of Huichol people, whose name for themselves in their own language is Wixáritari, leave their communities in Jalisco, Nayarit and other parts of Mexico and begin a pilgrimage to Wirikuta.”
“The Huichols are among the few indigenous groups in Mexico who were never successfully converted to Catholicism by Spanish colonizers, and their fidelity to their traditions is celebrated throughout the country. ‘I congratulate all of you, the traditional governors, the Wixárica union from the ceremonial centres of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit, to all of you, for defending these holy places, these marvellous places,’ President Felipe Calderón said in a 2008 speech . . “
Director Hernan Vilchez and José Luis (Katira) Ramírez and his son Enrique Ramírez, the two Huichol spiritual leaders who appear in the film, are on a tour, showing the film in the U.S. and Canada, and hoping to gain some allies in their fight. (On Wednesday, Nov. 26, the film will be shown at the University of Toronto, and on Thursday, Nov. 27, it will be shown at York University.)
Journalist Tracy L Barnett has written several articles about the film forthe Huffington Post and other publications. She quotes the film’s director Hernan Vilchez: “This film is emblematic of what is happening to communities throughout the world – it’s not just about the Huicholes. Our hope is that we can raise awareness about these issues in Mexico but also in the communities where we are traveling.”
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/movies/Cinema+Politica+Mexico+Huicholes+worry+that/10409694/story.html← BackNext →