Indigenous women of Chiapas close ranks against mega-projects

Indigenous women of Chiapas hold an Assembly in Chapultenango.

By: Isaín Mandujano


Chapultenango, September 17 and 18, 2022

We embrace the Women and Peoples who struggle and organize.

Women from the Zoque, North-Palenque, Jungle, Coast and Highlands regions of Chiapas called upon each other to meet again and to share the processes, challenges and challenges after our last Assembly held in May of this year in Rayón, Chiapas.

Today we once again thank and honor our Zoque compañeras and sisters who received us with organization, joy, respect and affection.

As women of the Zoque, Ch’ol, Tseltal, Tsotsil and mestiza peoples of Mexico and Argentina we reaffirm our will to follow our principles: 1) Political-organizational autonomy, 2. Defense of Mother Earth versus the projects of death, 3. Awareness in personal care and collective healing, 4. Women’s participation in decision-making, 5. Rejection of all types of violence towards women, 6. Articulation and political solidarity among peoples, networks, collectives of the EZLN, CNI and the Sixth, 7. The Movement is governed by non-hierarchical, non-centralized Assemblies.

We decided to share the contexts in which we are living as women from the work groups for each one of the regions and, later in the plenary:

We share that in the Tsotsil Highlands Zone there is an increase in canteens, circulation of alcohol, drugs and weapons. Constant movements in vehicles of armed groups. Increased migration by young people and those who stay in our communities no longer respect women and older people. The few men engage in sexual violence against young women.

Las Abejas of Acteal. Photo from La Jornada archives.

In the Tseltal region of the Highlands women are not taken into account, they don’t respect our rights, mainly in contempt for widowed women and/or single mothers. The uses and customs of the community violate us and dispossess us of our lands without taking into account that the land gives us life and we feed ourselves from it. In the Jobel Valley we identified a before and after June 14, after the dispute of different organized crime groups: dispossessions are experienced through the invasion of land caused by armed groups; from the complicity of government officials and hotel entrepreneurs who monopolize water through the destruction of mountain wetlands and swamps. There are various groups of armed young people called scooters that make shootings a daily occurrence and put the daily lives of women and children in tension. There is more presence of the National Guard that is made that which does not see, nor hear.

North-Palenque Zone. With the construction of the misnamed Maya Train, the leveling and destruction of hills, water pollution and the dispossession/ displacement of communities have increased. The commodification of the Maya culture is present, favoring private business initiative. Prostitution is increasing and migration is visible. Groups of scooters linked to organized crime have appeared and are carrying out murders, with the National Guard simulating its function and generating fear and terror with its presence in the daily life of the population.

Coastal Zone. Threat of construction of the gas pipeline that comes from the interoceanic project of Oaxaca and that will pass through the entire Coast to Guatemala. Construction of Mega-highways in connection with the Maya Train and Interoceanic Train. Increase in mining projects. Sale of land to business speculation for hotel projects. Disappearance of girls, young people and adults who become most of the time femicides and human trafficking.

Zoque Zone. Being at the head of the basin, it’s being threatened by megaprojects related to mining, hydroelectric, geothermal and hydrocarbon projects. We are convinced of the link to corporate interests, the Federal Electricity Commission and institutions of bad government together with organized crime for the execution of projects.

An example is the “Study for the Integral Management of the Basins” that represents the dispossession and destruction of our lands. Another example is the case of the town of El Platanar [municipality of Pichucalco] as a “territory of sacrifice” where they caused an oil spill that affects the Grijalva River, this due to the negligence of Pemex and complicity of the government, causing forced displacement and that 5 thousand inhabitants do not have drinking water.

Indigenous women meet in Chiapas.

In sum; we agreed that Organized Crime is governing in all our territories, we see the increase in the sale and circulation of weapons, drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism. In complicity with a process of militarization that permits the dispossession and control of our territories. Women are the most affected by the increase in femicides, deaths, hunger and disappearances of girls and young women.

We agreed that we will defend Our Mother Earth from the mis-named Maya Train, from Hydrocarbon Projects and geo-parks, from the gas pipeline and from pesticides, as well as from the hoarding and pollution of water.

However, in the face of this situation of death, we are happy to see young women participating in this Assembly. It is a moment of opportunity to walk and open a different course for all. We are committed to strengthening your dignifying processes to and for Life in a collective and organized way.

We will continue defending Mother Earth with organization and dignity. We will continue carrying out our jobs in our places. We close our Assembly defining the date and place of our next meeting.

Defensoras de Nasakobajk
Tsijilba Bij
Red de Mujeres de la Costa en Rebeldía
Antsetik Tz’unun
Mujeres organizadas de Acteal
Mujeres del Colectivo Jomenäs
Mujeres Productoras
Mujeres del Colectivo Kallpolli
Mujeres a título individual

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, September 19, 2022, and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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