By: Ana Langner
The process of indigenous consultation about the Maya Train has not complied with all the international standards in the matter, the Mexico Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights (UN-HR) warned.
As an observer of different regional information assemblies, this office of the United Nations (UN) perceived that both in the convocation and the protocol, as well as in the information presented, reference was only made to the possible benefits of the project and not the negative impact that it could cause.
The UN-HR expressed concern about the low participation and representation of indigenous women in the process, despite efforts made in some places to assure their inclusion.
It detailed in a communication that the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, the National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism and the Undersecretary of Democratic Development, Social Participation and Religious Issues of the Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación) invited it as an observer in said process.
In that context, it attended 4 of the 15 regional information assemblies in Tenabo (Campeche) and Dzitás (Yucatán), on November 29, and in Xpujil (Campeche) and Reforma (Quintana Roo) on November 30.
It was also present in eight of the 15 regional consultation assemblies in Palenque (Chiapas), Tenabo, Dzitás and Tunkás (Yucatán), on December 14, and in Xpujil, Tenosique (Tabasco), Reforma and Xul-há (Quintana Roo) on December 15.
The UN-HR reminded that international human rights standards establish that the consultation and consent of the indigenous peoples and communities must be prior, free, informed and culturally appropriate.
While it recognized the decision of the Mexican government to make efforts to respect, protect and guaranty the rights of indigenous peoples, including their right to consultation and consent to the mentioned project, it found deficiencies in the process.
In relation to the informed nature of the consultation, besides exhibiting the lack of data about the negative impacts the project could bring with it, it explained that this absence of studies or the lack of dissemination of the studies makes it difficult for people to be able to define their position regarding the project in a fully informed way.
“Despite this circumstance, the authorities advanced to the consultation stage of the process,” the office pointed out.
In the information sessions and in the consultation stage, some authorities showed that the guaranty of various economic, social and cultural rights was not conditioned on the project’s acceptance. However, as a result of the way in which it was presented, people from the communities expressed their agreement with the project as a means to receive attention to basic needs like water, health, education, jobs, housing, a healthy environment and culture, a logic that affects the free nature of the consultation, this office observed.
For the UN-HR, there is reason for concern that the cultural adequacy methodology of the process has not been constructed with the communities involved.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Friday, December 20, 2019
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee