Tzotziles file suit for injunction against the San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road
** The sixth district court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez admitted it (the lawsuit) on January 13
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy
Los Llanos, Chiapas, January 14, 2014
The Tzotzil community of de Los Llanos, located in the rural zone of San Cristóbal de Las Casas Municipality, filed a petition for an injunction (amparo) “against any permit and license that may have been granted by authorities at the federal, state and municipal level for the announced construction of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas-Palenque Toll Road (a super highway for profit), without free, prior and informed consultation with the community.”
The request for an injunction was admitted January 13 by the sixth district court in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. With that, the official suspension of work was conceded “on all permits and licenses that the defendant authorities at the federal, state and municipal level have granted for the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road, upon being treated as acts depriving an indigenous community of common use lands, until the lawsuit filed for an injunction is definitively resolved.” Los Llanos is composed principally of milpas and forests.
The indigenous pointed out that: “the highway megaproject puts at risk our food sovereignty and damages our rights to territory, autonomy, no discrimination and protection of the environment and natural resources.”
Their legal representative, Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, pointed out that that these are guarantees foreseen in the Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on Indigenous Peoples and Tribes in Independent Countries.
The community specified in its lawsuit, presented last January 6, that on November 16, 2013 the sixth council member from the municipal council of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Fidencio Pérez Jiménez, “introduced himself here to threaten that the toll road would pass over common use lands, and in case the community should oppose, the community’s authorities would go to prison and the Army would be brought in for the start of the construction work.”
On November 26, the Secretary of Government of Chiapas, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, stated to the press that: “there is no going backwards” in the construction of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas-Palenque Toll Road, and he warned that it would still be constructed despite opposition from the indigenous communities, among them Los Llanos. “With these statements, the high official clearly sent a message to the community that the right to consultation as Tzotzil indigenous people has not been and will not be guaranteed,” the lawyer for the indigenous maintained.
Los Llanos is only one of the different communities that would be affected by this project that previous governments have caressed, as much the federal as local. The definitive path has experienced different modifications in recent years. Mitzitón is another San Cristobal Tzotzil community that has resisted said work, at the cost of conflicts induced by the Sabinas state government el gobierno and stirred up because of religious differences.
Different political and religious groups exist in Los Llanos, and it also has a combative past. Part of its territory consists of plots “recuperated” by Zapatista support bases after the 1994 Uprising. At the side of the San Cristóbal-Ocosingo Highway can be seen signs that say: “The land is ours, not the corporations,” and “No toll road.” On a (large) standing and painted rock it reads: “No to Procede.” 
Nevertheless, before the coming inauguration of the Palenque International Airport, the Secretary of Government as well as the tourism and public works authorities, in repeated statements take for granted that they have agreements with the communities included in the highway’s trajectory, without mentioning consultations. Pressures also exist from tourism and constructions companies.
Translators’ Notes: Los Llanos is located across the present San Cristóbal-Ocosingo-Palenque Highway from the Mitzitón ejido. The San Cristóbal-Palenque Toll Road Project was part of the Plan Puebla Panamá (now the Mesoamerica Project). It is the same toll road that will improve access to the Agua Azul Cascades tourist area, which the San Sebastián Bachajón community is also resisting.
 – Procede (misspelled on the big rock as Prosede) is the regulatory process for converting collectively owned ejido land into private land. The photo was taken by the Chiapas Support Committee on a recent visit to Chiapas when we stopped in Los Llanos.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee