PEN members and writers across the world petition to prevent mining in Wirikuta, Mexico

PEN members joined writers and artists from 30 countries in signing a petition on Thursday urging Mexican President Felipe Calderon to rescind mining concessions in Wirikuta, an area of northern Mexico sacred to the Huichol people.

The petition calls on Felipe Calderon to withdraw concessions to First Majestic Silver and Minera Golodrina, a Mexican subsidiary of the Canadian-based multinational Lake Shore Gold Corp. The planned mining site is in an area known as Wirikuta in San Luis Potosi state which is of great cultural and religious importance to the Huichol people, incorporating the Huichol traditional pilgrimage route. The Wirikuta reserve is a UNESCO Natural Sacred Sites and 800 kilometers of the pilgrim route to the reserve is being considered for addition to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Over 100 signatures were collected by PEN International President Emeritus Homero Aridjis and his wife Betty Aridjis. Amongst those who supported the petition were PEN International Board members, Vice Presidents, members and 2011 Nobel Laureate for literature and Swedish PEN member Tomas Transtromer. Mexico has been the focus of a recent PEN International campaign calling for justice for the large numbers of journalists and writers who continue to be persecuted and killed in the country. Homero and Betty Aridjis said of the Wirikuta mining concessions, “Freedom of expression in Mexico is increasingly under siege, and this is yet another manifestation of this grave problem.”

Please read a copy of the letter to President Felipe Calderon in English or Spanish for details of how you can support the petition.