[Below is a denunciation written by people of faith opposed to the government’s “development” plans for Eastern Chiapas because they will cause displacement of indigenous communities and harm to the environment and public health.]
Movement in Defense of Life and Territory denounces Chiapas Megaprojects
On November 25, 2015, the “International Day Against Violence and Exploitation Towards Women,” as Maya and Mestizo peoples we have come to the municipal capitals of Tumbalá, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Yajalón, Huixtán, Cancúc, Tenejapa, Oxchúc, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Salto de Agua and the towns of Bachajón-Chilón to join our voices and thus make the situation of our peoples more visible.
As the Movement in Defense of Life and Territory, which forms part of the San Cristóbal de las Casas Diocese, we are marching peacefully asking that our constitutional right to demonstrate be respected; we want to encourage the heart of our peoples to seek better paths towards living well and that our disagreements may be heard and attended to by the municipal, state and federal authorities.
On this day, we want to join together with our mothers, daughters and sisters that have been physically and psychologically beaten, excluded, exploited, mistreated, violated, discriminated; and we want to commit ourselves to respecting and defending them from those institutions or individuals that look to violate their rights; starting inside our homes.
On this pilgrimage, our principal demand is the care of Mother Earth, which is not just a place to live; she is part of us, we came from her and we owe her. And she, our mother, is being plundered, devastated and outraged without punishment by the economic interests expressed in megaprojects that threaten to destroy it. We mention some plans and projects that harm our Mother Earth below:
The Chakté Hydroelectric Dam in San Juan Cancuc municipality and the Jatzá Dam on the Jataté River, which crosses through the municipios of Ocosingo and Altamirano. This megaproject will flood 2,900 hectares of forests and ejido lands, will affect the Cañada de Las Tazas (Las Tazas Canyon), will disappear communities like La Sultana and Rómulo Calzada and will affect others. The Nancé Central Dam on the Tzaconejá River in the municipio of Altamirano, the “Salto de Agua” Dam on the Tulijá River that will flood 396 square kilometers of forests and lands. The dam in Bajatzén on the Shamulhá River inside the municipios of Yajalón, Tila and Tumbalá. This dam would flood 10,000 hectares of land.
The eco-tourist projects in the communities of Ulubil and Pocolná in the municipio of San Juan Cancuc. The eco-tourist projects in the Candelaria Ejido, in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas. The Eco-tourist Project at Laguna Ocotal in the municipio of Ocosingo.
A mine in Tenejapa municipality, another mine in the community of Emiliano Zapata in Yajalón, on Ah Cabalnaj Hill and another mine in the community of Ocotal in Yajalón municipality. The mine in the Carranza and Macedonia ejidos in the municipality of Ocosingo. The mine in the Ejido de Guquitepec inside of the municipio of Chilón. Construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Superhighway, which will affect diverse communities in the municipios of Candelaria, Chilón, Yajalón, Salto de Agua, Tenejapa, Cancuc, Oxchuc and Ocosingo. This megaproject will also affect through its branches small communities of the Sibacá Ejido, Patria Nueva and Lucum Mil ha community, among others.
Oil wells in the municipio of Tenejapa. Oil well in Xaquilá in the municipio of Chilón. Oil wells in Ocosingo, in the Jardín zone and another in the area of San Miguel. An oil well on the border of Chilón and Ocosingo, on lands of the Carmen Ejido.
These projects and others that affect our communities are works that are destroying or are going to destroy Mother Nature and will enrich the big companies, but don’t benefit the great majority of the poor. The Structural Reforms, which protect megaprojects, are only one strategy for enriching those that have more and impoverishing the Native peoples of these lands.
It’s a joke to say that these works will improve our lives. What life are we going to improve if we don’t have land? The government doesn’t ask us if we are in agreement that these works are constructed and that is a violation of our rights as indigenous peoples.
According to the International Labor Organization, in Convention 169, we have the right to be consulted and to participate in the decisions about policies and programs that affect us, we have the right to determine our own style of development and we have the right to have our integrity respected, our culture and our land.
Meanwhile, we join the voice of Pope Francisco saying: “No to an economy of exclusion and inequality where money rules instead of serving. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth” (Pope Francisco, Bolivia, July 9, 2015).
We demand that the state and municipal authorities STOP THE CORRUPTION. We hope that they don’t turn deaf ears and blind eyes, by continuing to permit, despite the hundreds if signatures and demonstrations against it, an increase in permits for the sale of alcoholic beverages and clandestine consumption; prostitution in bars or similar places; the same ones that plant and sell drugs. We have lived in our own flesh, in our homes, that drinking and drugs are the cause of family violence, murder, suicide and they make our people poorer all the time.
We also march in solidarity with more than 100,000 victims of organized crime and especially with the families of the 43 disappeared from Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero; and with the Acteal victims for whom, almost 20 years after the massacre, the government has not done justice.
Pope Francisco, in the encyclical Laudato Si’, expresses that politics reacts slowly, far from being on top of collective challenges and that it is responsible for its own discredit, for corruption and for the lack of good public policies. We confirmed that in the recent elections where the political parties only left corruption and division, damaged community harmony instead of looking for good living in our peoples. Therefore, it’s indisputable that we must look for new ways of organization. We need to join together on paths of peace and justice.
We need to and want to continue analyzing the signs of the times, caring for and defending Mother Earth, denouncing the structures of injustice and of sin that: “kill our people” (Pope Francisco), as well as constructing alternative models of economy and social organization that go to forming another possible and necessary world (Congress of Mother Earth, January 2014).
May the Heart of the Heavens and the Heart of the Earth, owner and creator of man, woman and nature, illuminate and strengthen us in all our actions in favor of the good life, because as Monsignor Oscar Romero reminds us: “every person that struggles for justice, in an unjust environment, is working for the Kingdom of God.”
Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, November 25, 2015
MOVEMENT IN DEFENSE OF LIFE AND TERRITORY BELIEVING PEOPLE FROM THE PARISHES OF: Candelaria, Huixtán, Tumbalá, Cancúc, Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Bachajón-Chilón, Yajalón, Salto de Agua.
Originally Published in Spanish by Pozol Colectivo and Koman Ilel
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
En español: http://www.pozol.org/?p=11561/