On the third day of the tour, the arrival was with the compañeros of UCIZONI (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus), who the night before provided a place to spend the night and take food at the Tierra Bonita agroecological center. In the morning the reception was by commissions of the more than 32 Mixe communities that maintain the “Land and Liberty” sit-in, in Mogoñe Viejo, which celebrates 60 days of resistance against the imposition of the interoceanic corridor.
The protest, or occupation, blocks the modernization work of the railroad that aims to connect with the Maya Train and with an entire railway network that would connect Canada, the United States and Mexico. For defending their territory, they have faced criminalization, repression and a strong smear campaign by the Federal Government for hindering one of the flagship projects of the AMLO government and that in 2019 presented this megaproject through a letter to Donald Trump to attract US investment and support.
In addition to the formal attacks by the armed forces of the government, military, national guard and navy, they have also had to resist the criminal violence of drug trafficking groups. They denounced the repressive actions committed by the criminal group headed by Tacho Canasta against community members of Santa Cruz Tagolaba and the repression against activists and local authorities of Ixhuatan. This is part of a strategy that is used throughout the country to dismantle territorial defense.
Given this, they emphasize the need to weave networks of solidarity, national and international support in the defense of nature, with the communities that defend it and to confront the state discourse, position the word of the peoples claiming their self-determination.
The land belongs to those who work it, to those who defend it, to those who inhabit it, to those who step on it, to those who love it and to those who defend it. That’s why international rights recognize the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination, and this right implies deciding what to do in the territories they inhabit.
The compañero Carlos Beas recalled how the trans-isthmus train emerged, in 1899: the military dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz handed over the concession of the project to the English company Pearsons and Son Co. The railroad was inaugurated in 1907, but the project lost importance when the Panama Canal came into operation. However, this interventionist project and neoliberal model was again projected for its realization in different administrations such as that of Salinas and Fox. It should be noted that Carlos Beas has been the target of threats by organized crime groups, which harass ejido authorities and community members who participate in the community organization process.
López Obrador’s train project proposes a macro-regional dispossession; it is only to build the roads, there is a whole plan of dispossession for the Isthmus area: gas and oil pipelines, refineries, maquiladoras, mines and 10 industrial parks. López Obrador is managing to materialize the greatest dream of all neoliberals, and the Indigenous Peoples, like the 32 towns that make up the northern part of the Isthmus, have been his greatest nightmare.
“From June 2019 to March 2023, we have counted around 69 mobilizations of peoples to prevent the progress of the work and the damages from these projects. On February 3, 2023, 3 communities were mobilized together: Palomares, Mobilización, and Sabirera. The Navy was present in the three mobilizations, trying to intimidate. That’s the response of the 4T to our demands.”
The denunciation of the UCIZONI compañeros continued mentioning the consultations and the refusal to hand over information. People detailed that federal authorities have not given enough information about the project, nor the environmental impact sample. There is no information in the Mixe or Zoque language, the languages most spoken by the inhabitants. The division of communities through selective government projects and handouts: the inhabitants of this region mentioned the Sembrando Vida project and other programs of the 4T that creates a patronage relationship between some inhabitants and the federal and state governments in other areas of the Isthmus. The situation is repeated in the eastern part of the region, where two murders of activists and community defenders are identified. The villagers also detail that people from the federal and state governments have pressured traditional authorities of the ejidos to accept large sums of money in exchange for ceding land rights; The sums have risen to one million pesos, a figure that is insignificant for companies. The investment that López Obrador announced in 2018 for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Development Plan alone was 8 billion pesos. However, the question is: Where do those 8 billion pesos go? Where are the billions of pesos used for other projects such as wind farms and gas pipelines?
At the end of the sharing, a march was made from the sit-in to the highway to resume the march of the caravan and continue towards Veracruz.
During the day, they commemorated the life and struggle of Betty Cariño and Jyri Yaakkola, who were killed on April 27, 13 years ago, in a caravan in support of the autonomous municipality of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca. The political organization MULT ambushed the caravan and has displaced and killed in the Triqui region for many years in order to secure political control as well as the municipal budget. The four probable perpetrators were released through a pact between that organization and the Mexican government. So, justice for Betty and Jyri is demanded 13 years after this terrible date.
Originally Published in Spanish by El Sur Resiste, Friday, April 28, 2023, https://www.elsurresiste.org/es/posts/dia-3-planton-tierra-y-libertad-guichicovi-oaxaca-la-caravana-se-suma-al-apoyo-del-planton and Republished with English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee