Quintín Salgado Salgado was an environmentalist and trade unionist in Cocula, Mexico, where workers at an open-pit gold mine called Guajes-El Limón, owned by a subsidiary of Canadian outfit Torex Gold Resources, had been striking.
According to Roberto Hernández Mojica of the Mexican Republic’s National Union of Miners, Metalworkers and Allied Workers (SNTMMSSRM in Spanish,) the 37-year-old was the driving force behind a strike and takeover of the mine’s facilities, which at the time had been going on for 83 days.
Quintín was killed on 24 January, 2018 in the town of Nuevo Balsas, where the mine is located, when several individuals fired on him with .9 milimitre weapons according to official reports. In November 2017, two other strikers were also murdered. The blockade was temporarily broken up on 29 January.
In an interview with Zacarías Cervantes of El Sur newspaper on the day after the murder, Indalecio Pérez Morones, also of the SNTMMSSRM union, stated that on the week before, Quintín delivered a letter from the stewards of the ejido, or common land, of Real del Limón to the strikers. The letter indicated that an ultimatum was to be issued to the company, demanding that it sit down for talks with the strikers, the alternative being that the stewards would terminate the lease agreement for their land and demand that the mining company remove its machinery.
Pérez Morone said that Quintín Salgado took the letter to representatives of the mining company and that the Director of Operations of Torex Gold’s subsidiary Media Luna, Jason Simpson, provided a signed document confirming that he had received it. After exiting the premises, he headed back towards the strikers but “was intercepted by two persons with whom the locals were unfamiliar. They came out of a white Nissan Tsuru and warned him that if he did not give up on the strike and if he continued to f*ck them over, they would kill him.
Yesterday (Wednesday) they made good on that threat.” The men took the letter and smashed Quintín’s mobile phone. Witnesses to the murder stated that the gunmen were riding in a white Nissan Tsuru.
Several attempts were made by Torex Gold and government officials to disavow the relationship between the company and Quintín by pointing out that he was not employed by Torex Gold and was not a movement leader. In its press release on the issue, Torex Gold stated that “it is our understanding that Mr. Salgado was well known to authorities and that the investigation continues. It is truly sad that Los Mineros and their supporting unions, have chosen to exploit these human tragedies to further their political agendas.” Although Quintín no longer worked directly for the mine, he was a subcontractor for the company providing Torex Gold with transportation services and, according to miners interviewed by La Izquierda newspaper, a pillar of the movement.
Quintín was father to two children, aged two and six. Before his life in Cocula, he was a migrant in the United States who returned to Mexico full of hopes and dreams, which left an indelible impression on the people around him. The rallying cry in the wake of his death was “One who dies for our waters cannot be called dead!”