The Morelos “consulta” was not legal

November 2018: Residents of Puebla communities stopped the installation of the Morelos gas pipeline. Members of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land and Water warned that they would continue with their struggle until the Morelos Integral Project is cancelled. Photo: José Castañares / La Jornada de Oriente

By:Yadira Llaven, La Jornada de Oriente

Puebla, Puebla

The first and second collegiate tribunals in administrative matters found in favor of eight communities of Puebla, Morelos and Tlaxcala that are opposed to the Morelos Integral Project (Proyecto Integral Morelos, PIM) and ordered the [lower court] judges to accept the protective order (amparo) requested last February against the citizen referendum (consulta) that the federal government carried out to resolve the viability of the PIM, given the possibility that their rights may have been violated. [1]

According to members of the Peoples Front in Defense of Land and Water (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y el Agua), the act the communities complained about is President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s instruction to make decisions about the project by means of a public referendum (consulta).

The previous Tuesday the federal tribunals resolved complaints 62/2019 and 55/2019 filed by the towns of Huexca, Jantetelco, Amayuca, Amilcingo, Santa María Zacatepec, San Damián Texoloc, San Jorge Tezoquipan and San Vicente Xiloxochitla against the dismissal of the amparos that they requested last February 18.

The case of guarantees, they said, was presented two days before the murder of the activist Samir Flores, in Huexca, Morelos. In that case they denounced the violation of indigenous peoples’ right to consultation and free determination about the functioning of a gas pipeline, a thermoelectric plant and an aqueduct as part of the PIM, which would affect more than 60 communities in the three states mentioned.

The first and second collegiate tribunals (higher courts) determined that: “the criteria issued by judges of the first and fourth district [lower courts] located in Puebla erred by dismissing amparos 199/2019 and 209/2019 and permitting the holding of the referendum, despite the fact that it did not comply with the law.”

Puebla’s lower court judges considered that the referendum (consulta) was not an authoritative act and that the peoples affected did not have a legitimate interest in the referendum or in the project.

“That lets us see a watchword of federal judges about denying access to justice to indigenous peoples affected by the PIM, and that no independence of powers exists in this new administration,” accused the Peoples Front.

It pointed out that the second collegiate tribunal determined that: “the merit consulta and its resulting approval by the majority of those polled open the door to the imminent concretion of the PIM, with which it is patent that the legal situation of the complainants would be unilaterally modified with respect to their right to special protection as indigenous peoples and communities.”

The magistrates recognized that: “the peoples must be guaranteed effective participation in administrative measures that can impact their environment or habitat, such as the construction of a thermoelectric plant, an aqueduct and a gas pipeline.”

In a communiqué, the aggrieved communities expressed their “deception” and “courage” and accused the federal government of “betraying” its promise to recognize the Accords of San Andrés Larráinzar and to respect indigenous peoples’ rights.

They said that the federal tribunals determined last Tuesday that the figure of the popular referendum convoked by the Executive “is not found legally regulated in national normative standards.”

They said that the tribunals also recognized that there was no consultation with the peoples affected for the purpose of obtaining their consent about the PIM that: “affects their right to self-determination and a free, prior, informed, good faith and culturally adequate consultation.”

The communities argued that: “it’s inequitable and unjust that the results of a general vote determine the decision of the authorities responsible for finishing the project and its functioning, as happened after the complaint was thrown out.”

They reiterated that the referendum did not comply with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and asked that that the criteria of the second collegiate tribunal on the PIM set a precedent for confronting megaprojects like the Trans-Isthmus and Maya Trains.

[1] This article is based on a press release from the Peoples Front in Defense of Land and Water. The entire press release can be found on the website of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI):

https://www.congresonacionalindigena.org/2019/05/16/tribunales-federales-admiten-que-la-consulta-publica-de-obrador-pudo-haber-violado-el-derecho-a-la-consulta-de-los-pueblos-indigenas-afectados-por-el-pim/

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, May 17 2019

https://www.jornada.com.mx/2019/05/17/estados/025n1est

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

 

 

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