The Isthmus is ours

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec

By: Raúl Romero*

The road from Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, to Juchitán, Oaxaca, is a true postcard of the “capitalist war:” the imposing oil wells are the prelude to the wind parks and their gigantic mills. At different points on the road, immigration agents and the National Guard stop automobiles and buses in search of migrants. The scenario becomes more dramatic when one finds out that clandestine graves with human bodies have been discovered in the surrounding area.

Now in Juchitán, the cultural wealth of the Binnizá people (people that come from the clouds) contrasts with the dozens of homes destroyed as a result of the 2017 earthquakes that are still observed. In that region of the country where reconstruction has not been finished, there is already talk of the destruction that will sharpen with the Interoceanic Corridor on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which crosses from Oaxaca to Veracruz and unites by land in just 200 kilometers the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic, is a strategic territory. Its importance reaches global dimensions: it is the gateway to what Pablo Neruda called “the waist of America.”

In the 19th Century, Great Britain and the United States attempted to take control of that part of the national territory, history that can be traced through the treaties of La Mesilla, Clayton-Bulwer and McLane-Ocampo. In the 20th Century and what goes of the 21st, as Luis Hernández Navarro has well documented in these same pages, presidents Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, Luis Echeverría, José López Portillo, Miguel de la Madrid, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón tried to reactivate the project in different ways. Now, Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes up the initiative and promises a difference: there will be exploitation and dispossession, but without corruption from the government.

In the 2019-2024 Plan National Development Plan it defines the Maya Train, the Trans-Isthmus and the free zone on the northern border as: “regional development projects that act as ‘curtains’ for capturing the migratory flow in their transit toward the north.” In other words, the much longed for wall of Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, in the decree with which legal certainty is given to the Trans-Isthmus, only the ports of Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca, as well as the railway connection between them are indicated. Nothing is mentioned about the businesses that the corridor will serve: agribusiness, manufacturing, real estate, mining, the expansion of wind farms and the modernization of a gas pipeline, nor about the Ixtepec airport and the Trans-Isthmus Highway. Nor is there any news about the environmental impacts of the entire project.

For the United States, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor is not only a migrant containment curtain: it is, also a trade route that reinforces the Panama Canal with South America and opens new routes with Europe and Asia. This, in full dispute with China and Russia, is also a privileged military position.

Seen alongside the other priority projects of the current government, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor is part of a network of interconnection and energy supply for the corporations that operate in the south of the country, the majority of them with private and foreign capital. These are located in special economic zones –that still have legal life– or in the routes that connect them. Thus, the current administration constructs infrastructure so that, by means of the Morelos Integral Project, the Trans-Isthmus Corridor and the Maya Train, capitalist companies are articulated in a complex network that goes from Morelos to Yucatán, passing through Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche.

For the original peoples of the Isthmus and those who live in regions where these kinds of megaprojects are already being executed or will be executed, these ate also about initiatives that threaten their material and cultural reproduction. That’s why they are the main resistance: life is played out in them. That was the evaluation shared in the “national assembly between the peoples of the Nacional Indigenous Congress /Indigenous Government Council and the adherents to the Sexta, Networks of Resistance and Rebellion, organizations and collectives that organize and struggle against patriarchy, capitalism and the bad governments,” held on September 6, 7 and 8 in Juchitán.

More that 500 people, representatives of 22 free media and of 107 organizations and collectives coming from 17 native peoples, 22 states in Mexico and 18 countries attended said assembly. There they embraced the struggle of the relatives of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, the widows of the Pasta de Conchos miners, the compañeros of Samir Flores… There the resistances continued weaving a regional, national and international network that in the future proposes to stop the politics of death and destruction that comes with capitalism. They know that the path is not easy or short, but they also know that it’s the only one: changing everything that has to change, from below, to the left and collectively. For now that network has already launched its first cry in the region: the Isthmus is ours, not that of capital.



Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: