Mexico: #Cananea censored?

Last Sunday night, nearly two thousand federal police forces in the northern state of Sonora forcibly ended a workers’ strike, evacuating members of the Mexican Miners and Metal Workers Union from outside of the Cananea copper mines, where they had been picketing for nearly three years, demanding safer working conditions. Although the union’s contract with Grupo Mexico, the mine owner, expired earlier this year, demonstrations have continued, despite a court order issued in February, declaring the strike officially over. El Universal reported that police used tear gas on those demonstrators who refused to leave the site when asked. Five demonstrators were arrested, and several sustained injuries. Pateando Piedras reported that cell phone service was down in the immediate area surrounding Cananea, allegedly due to the high volume of calls being made between workers and their families, but this did not keep the news from reaching Twitter Mexico.

Twitter hashtag #Cananea began trending at 12am on June 7, just hours after the evacuation began, and climbed rapidly until the early morning when it abruptly disappeared from the leading topics list. This caused many bloggers and ‘tuiteros’ to suspect that the hastag had been censored. At 6am, Twitter reported trending topics #clubdelinsomnio, #Telemax, #tipicomexicano, #mtvmovieawards, but mx.twicker showed that users had continued tweeting about Cananea until noon the next day, instead using hastags #clubdelinsomnio, #Telemax and #tipicomexicano to report on the evacuation. Today, members of the National Commission on Human Rights are investigating the cases of five miners who were arrested and jailed after the evacuation and were allegedly denied food for the first sixteen hours that they were in custody.

Blogger Alberto Escorcia wrote that #Copala, a hashtag used to report on an indigenous peoples’ rights demonstration in Oaxaca, temporarily disappeared days later, on June 8. This caused several bloggers to conclude that the disappearances of both #Cananea and #Copala, may have been politically motivated.