Puebla police and the National Guard reclaim Bonafont plant

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Workers clean the Bonafont water plant, reclaimed yesterday morning by members of the Puebla police, with the support of the National Guard, after evicting members of the Union of Peoples of Cholula who had renamed that space as the House of the Peoples Photo: Cuartoscuro

Nahuas accuse the authorities of putting transnational interests first

By: Yadira Llaven | La Jornada del Oriente

Puebla, Puebla

At dawn on Tuesday, members of the National Guard and state police evicted the inhabitants who since March 22, 2021 occupied the bottling plant of the French firm Bonafont, located in the community of Santa María Zacatepec, municipality of Juan C. Bonilla, 20 kilometers from the capital of Puebla, which they blame for the scarcity of water in the region due to extracting more than a million cubic meters of the liquid in excess of what is allowed.

In the afternoon, the 20 Nahua peoples of the Cholulteca regions and the Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl volcanoes held a virtual press conference in which they blamed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the governor of Puebla, Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta, and the municipal president of Juan C. Bonilla, José Cinto Bernal, for coordinating to defend Bonafont, that for 30 years has overexploited the water in the area of the volcanoes.

Barbosa Huerta, of Morena, distanced himself from the operation. He explained that the public force complied with an order of the Judicial Power of the Federation and called on the company and the peoples to dialogue.

A spokesman for the opponents explained: “They forcibly entered the facilities, dismantled the house that had been installed since March 2021, when the bottling plant was closed by decision of the assembly of the peoples of the region to stop the looting of water. They ignored and violated our self-determination.”

They dismantled the House of the Peoples and erased murals

Those in uniform, he added, erased the murals that various artists painted to support the construction of the House of the Peoples and that gave identity to the space. There were no arrests or injuries.

In the morning, the troops handed over the facilities to their owners; Company personnel surrounded the plant’s entrance with cyclonic mesh fencing, dismantled the opposition camp, loaded their belongings into a farm truck and took them away.

In a statement, the group United Peoples of the Cholulteca Region (Pueblos Unidos de la Región Cholulteca) said: “With the excessive presence of public forces from the three levels of government, once again they dispossess and repress the peoples that closed the Bonafont bottling plant of the Danone corporation for almost a year.”

In a press conference, opponents accused the three levels of government of violating the self-determination of the original communities with the entry of public force into the House of the Peoples, bastion of the organization of United Peoples of the Cholulteca Region and of the organizations that have coordinated the resistance in defense of water at the national and international levels.

“They are guilty of perpetrating the environmental disaster that the Bonafont company, of the Danone corporation, has caused for almost 30 years in the communities surrounding the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes; they, the businessmen and the State, believe that kidnapping the facilities of the Altepelmecalli (House of the Peoples in Nahua) will defeat us, but we are not going to retreat, we will defend water and life,” the activists warned.

From Juan C. Bonilla, they warned that they will recuperate what belongs to the peoples, “as we have done historically, and we will enforce the law of our communities. Bonafont out! Danone out! Stop the repression of the peoples who defend life!” they exclaimed.

The Bonafont plant was occupied on March 22, 2021, during the commemoration of World Water Day, in protest of the fact that overexploitation has dried up rivers, wells and springs in the region.

In the media conference he offers every morning, the governor called on the company and the people to dialogue with the participation of the federal and state governments. He said that respect for human rights must be guaranteed and announced that he will protect the region’s water.

They announce a global boycott and ask for support from the EZLN

In recent months this conflict has gained relevance in Latin America. The protest against Bonafont reached the headquarters of the Danone Group in France, and collectives from Europe, the United States and Canada showed solidarity in the struggle for the defense of water in Juan C. Bonilla.

In social networks, communities that support the inhabitants declared themselves in permanent assembly and “maximum alert” before the possible reactivation of the bottler. “We started a permanent campaign of mobilization, boycott and sabotage against the Bonafont company on a global scale.”

Solidarity from Raúl Zibechi

The organization requested the help of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, the National Indigenous Congress and the Indigenous Government Council to stop the repression and demand the return of what they call the Altepelmecalli Cultural Center.

In Mexico, they said, there is an escalation of violence against organized peoples. Just this week, they recalled, there was repression on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and against the normalistas of Ayotzinapa (Guerrero) and Mactumatzá (Chiapas); In addition, Francisco Vázquez, a water defender in Morelos, was murdered for opposing the thermoelectric plant in Huexca. They argued that these are signs that “we are living a world war for water against peoples and humanity.”

Uruguayan journalist and researcher Raúl Zibechi released a video message in which he expressed his solidarity with the inhabitants who occupied the Bonafont plant and called for vigilance at the outcome of these events.

“From here I want to show solidarity with the comrades of the House of the Peoples, who until a few hours ago were occupying the Bonafont company in Puebla and were evicted in a massive, violent operation by the National Guard and police of the state of Puebla.

“The struggle continues, the struggle continues. The House of The Peoples is not to be lost; it is a space that has been very important in these months, in the resistance of the Nahua peoples of the valley where they are, there in Puebla, and a reference point of the resistance to mega-mining, mega-projects and wind farms throughout Mexico, so that throughout the world we must redouble solidarity with the House of Peoples,” insisted the also collaborator of La Jornada.

With information from Fernando Camacho Servín

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada, Wednesday, February 16, 2022: https://www.jornada.com.mx/2022/02/16/estados/024n1est

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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