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Mexican mines squandered

OPINION: There's an urgent need to regulate Mexican mining and territory laws
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
09/05/2017
09:47
Mexico City
Newspaper leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Natural resources are an essential part of Mexico's heritage. Governments at all levels have the inalienable responsibility to care for, protect and manage them. The laws that regulate them must be clear and detailed with the objective of avoiding any loopholes of ambiguity that, in the end, facilitates their violation.

Mexican mines, specifically, as part of that heritage, are unprotected from their legal basis. In addition, the last three federal administrations have made it easier for individuals to appropriate these resources by paying very low costs for thousands of mining concessions, according to a research conducted by EL UNIVERSAL and published in these pages today.

During the governments of Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and the ongoing term of Enrique Peña Nieto, 10 thousand and 66 mining concession titles have been granted to the private sector, representing 56.5% of the total titles granted. The serious thing is that, once the concession is granted, these private corporations usually transfer the rights to that national patrimony to foreign companies at prices well above the initial ones.

The same has happened with subsoil extensions granted to citizens: 4.8% of the continental surface of Mexico was granted from 2000 to June of 2015. Only in the period of Felipe Calderón, 3.2% of the surface was given away. Who and why are they selling out the Mexican mines, as well as the national territory?

The mining law is weak, since in the article 19, it allows to "transmit" the ownership of the concessions to people "legally qualified to obtain them". This ambiguity in legal terms opens up many possibilities in interpretation, which makes it easier for private corporations to buy concessions at low prices and they, in turn, sell them to foreigners, even if this contradicts Article 27 of the Constitution.

A derived injustice is people living in awarded land who are unaware of the situation and who may lose their home any time because the law prioritizes mining activity to any other. It is a painful episode of omission and neglect, at least, towards a fundamental part of the economic development of our country.

The national mining patrimony does not deserve to be squandered. The territory and its resources can be exploited economically, but based on clear, fair rules, which do not endanger populations; That those who assume the investment risks do so from the right costs. The capture of public resources by the private sector is, to make it clear, corruption. The government and federal legislators have the opportunity to demonstrate that they protect the heritage of Mexicans.

 

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