Commodification of Nature in Chiapas

Supposed NGOs Drive the “Commodification of Nature” in Chiapas

[A member of the musical group Los Ángeles Azules (The Blue Angels) during the community of San Isidro’s fiestas, in theMontes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas Photo: Víctor Camacho]

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

“The global strategy of ‘territorial clearing and control’ disguised as a philanthropic ‘conservationist spirit’ answers to multinational corporate interests of what’s called green capitalism, now interested in ecological conservation in the form of natural protected areas of a federal character for the purpose of commodification, appropriation and multi-million dollars in private profit” the environmental organization Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste concluded, after taking a tour, with other civic organisms, through three indigenous communities established in the Montes Azules, threatened with eviction by federal authorities.

For Maderas del Pueblo (Woods of the People), the “common natural wealth” in this and other indigenous regions (biodiversity, forest cover that captures carbon, uncontaminated water, minerals, scenic beauty), is “the invaluable patrimony of the Mexican people;” and some of the world’s most powerful corporations covet it, several already with a presence in the Lacandón Jungle and its surroundings. And it enumerates the sectors: biotechnology and agro-food (Monsanto, Pioneer, Novartis, Bimbo); pharmaceutical (Pharmacia, Bayer, Pfizer, Aventis); automotive and oil (Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Shell, International Automobile Federation); bottling (Coca Cola, Nestlé, Pepsi Cola) and mining (Cemex).

The “conservationist privatization” and the commodification of nature “is impelled by multilateral organisms, financial and for international cooperation,” like the World Bank (promoter of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor), European Union (Prodesis), the United States Agency for International Development (with the Lacandón Jungle Century XXI Project: Joint Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiversity) and, recently, by agreement of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for the “disastrous” program Reduction of Emissions for Deforestation and Degradation Avoided (REDD plus).

Said strategies are operated by allegedly “non-governmental” organizations [NGOs] of a transnational character like Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, or national like the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Pronatura and “very especially” Natural Spaces and Sustainable Development, Mexican Nature and Ecosystems and the Interdisciplinary Center of Biodiversity and the Environment (CEIBA). The latter three, the study emphasizes, are linked to former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Julia Carabias, “who has instrumented ‘green’ businesses in the southern part of the Lacandón Jungle, which range from the commodification of butterflies and ‘environmental services for pay’ projects with funds from the National Forest Commission and Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), to hotels for ‘ecotourism’ and scientific tourism in what once was UNAM’s Biological Station at Chajul and [another] at the mouth of the Tzendales River.”

Maderas del Pueblo is clear that the current Chiapas government “has demagogically assumed the ‘ecologist’ and the ‘struggle against climate change’ discourses, utilizing the Lacandón Jungle as a spearhead” and what’s called the Lacandón Community, composed by Lacandóns (the document calls them “Maya Caribes”) and the Tzeltal “sub-comuneros” of Nuevo Palestina and Chols of Frontera Corozal as minority “associates,” to instrument ecotourism projects (“in reality, conventional scenic tourism and an elitist adventure tourism”), as well as pay for environmental services programs and the REDD. To this is added the expansion of African Palm plantations for agro-fuels in the strip that runs from Palenque to Marqués de Comillas.

After establishing the situation in the Montes Azules and in the communities threatened with eviction, Maderas del Pueblo calls on the social and political organizations with presence in the region to “construct a front in defense of land and territory.” The natural riches in the Lacandón region “are strategic to national sovereignty” faced with the “aggressive” territorial alienation underway for the purpose of commodification.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Saturday, June 9, 2012

En español:


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