Movement in Defence of Life and Territory Denounces Megaprojects in Chiapas
Today, 25th November, the “International Day against Violence and Exploitation of Women,” as Maya and mestizo peoples we have come to the municipal headquarters of Tumbalá, San Cristobal de las Casas, Yajalón, Huixtán, Cancuc Tenejapa, Oxchuc, Ocosingo Altamirano, Salto de Agua and the communities of Bachajón-Chilón, to unite our voices and thus make more visible the situation of our peoples.
As the Movement in Defence of Life and Territory, which is part of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, we are making a pilgrimage peacefully asking for respect for our constitutional right to speak out and protest; we want to lift the hearts of our people to seek better ways to live well (buen vivir) and we want our problems to be heard and addressed by the municipal, state and federal authorities.
On this day, we wish to come together with our mothers, daughters and sisters who have been physically and psychologically beaten, excluded, exploited, abused, raped, and discriminated against; and we wish to commit ourselves to respect and defend them against those institutions or individuals who intend to violate their rights; starting inside our homes.
In this pilgrimage, our main demand is the care of the Mother Earth, which is not only a place to live, it is also part of us, we come from her and we owe her. And she, our mother, is being plundered, ravaged and devastated with impunity by economic interests expressed in megaprojects which threaten to destroy her. The following are some plans and projects which injure our mother earth:
The Chakté Hydroelectric Dam in the municipality of San Juan Cancuc.
The Jatzá Dam on the Jataté River, which crosses the municipalities of Ocosingo and Altamirano. This megaproject will flood 2,900 hectares of forests and communal lands, it will affect the Las Tazas canyon, and will cause communities such as La Sultana and Rómulo Calzada to disappear, and will also affect more communities.
The Central Nancé Dam on the Tzaconeja river in the municipality of Altamirano.
The “Salto de Agua” dam on the Tulijá river which will flood 396 square km of forests and lands.
The dam at Bajatzén on the river Shamulhá within the municipalities of Yajalón, Tila and Tumbalá. This dam if carried out will flood 10,000 hectares of lands.
Ecotourism projects in the communities of Ulubil and Pocolnao’, in the municipality of San Juan Cancuc.
The ecotourism projects in the ejido Candelaria, municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas.
Ecotourism project in Laguna Ocotal in the municipality of Ocosingo.
Mine in the municipality of Tenejapa.
Mine in the community of Emiliano Zapata in Yajalón, on the hill of Ah Cabalnaj.
Mine in the community of Ocotal in the municipality of Yajalón.
Mine in the ejidos Carranza and Macedonia in the municipality of Ocosingo.
Mine in the Ejido of Guquitepec in the municipality of Chilón.
Construction of the superhighway from San Cristobal to Palenque which will affect different communities in the municipalities of Candelaria, Chilón, Yajalón, Salto de Agua, Tenejapa, Cancuc, Oxchuc and Ocosingo. This mega-project through its branch roads will also affect small communities of the ejido Sibacá, Patria Nueva and the community Lucum Mil ha, among others.
Oil wells in the municipality of Tenejapa.
Oil well in Xaquilá in the municipality of Chilón.
Oil wells in Ocosingo, in the Jardín area and another in the San Miguel area.
Oil well on the boundary of Ocosingo and Chilon in the lands of the ejido Carmen.
These projects and others affect our communities, they are works that are destroying or will destroy Mother Nature and will enrich big companies, but will not benefit the vast majority of the poor people. The Structural Reforms which protect megaprojects are just a strategy to enrich those who have most, and to impoverish the original peoples of these lands.
It is a mockery to say that these works will serve to improve our lives. How can life improve if you do not have land? The Government did not ask us if we agree that these works should be built, and this is a violation of our rights as indigenous peoples.
As the International Labour Organization states, in Convention No. 169, we have the right to be consulted and to be involved in the decisions about policies and programmes affecting us, we have the right to determine our own way of development and have the right to be respected in our integrity, our culture and our land.
Therefore, we join the voice of Pope Francis saying “No to an economy of exclusion and inequity where money rules instead of serving. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys the Mother Earth” (Pope Francis, Bolivia, 9th July, 2015).
We demand that the municipal and state authorities STOP THE CORRUPTION. That they do not have deaf ears and blind eyes, and continue to allow, despite the hundreds of signatures and demonstrations against them, the increase in permits sale of alcohol and illegal outlets; prostitution in bars or similar places; as well as the cultivation and sale of drugs. We have experienced first-hand, in our homes, that drink and drugs are the cause of domestic violence, murders, suicides and they make our people increasingly poor.
We also make this pilgrimage in solidarity with the more than one hundred thousand victims of organized crime and, particularly, with the families of the 43 disappeared from Ayotzinapa in Iguala, Guerrero; and with the victims of Acteal to whom, nearly 20 years after the massacre, the government has not given justice.
Pope Francisco, in the encyclical Laudato Si’, states that politics reacts slowly, far from being up to the collective challenges, and that it is responsible for its own discredit, through corruption and the lack of good public policies. This was confirmed to us in the recent elections where political parties left only corruption and division, damaging the communal harmony instead of seeking a good way of life in our towns. Therefore, it is indisputable that we need to seek new forms of organization. We need to unite in the ways of peace and justice.
We need and we want to continue to analyse the signs of the times, to care for and defend Mother Earth, to denounce the structures of injustice and sin which “are killing our people” (Pope Francis) and at the same time to build alternative models of economy and social organization which will create another new, possible and necessary world (Mother Earth Congress, January 2014).
May the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth, owner and creator of man, woman and nature, enlighten and strengthen us in all our actions in favour of living well, because, as we well remember Archbishop Oscar Romero said, “everyone who struggles for justice, in an unjust environment, is working for the Kingdom of God.”
Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, 25th November 2015.
MOVEMENT IN DEFENCE OF LIFE AND THE TERRITORY
PUEBLO CREYENTE OF THE PARISHES OF:
Candelaria, Huixtán, Tumbalá, Cancuc, Tenejapa, Oxchuc,
Ocosingo, Altamirano, Bachajón-Chilón, Yajalón, Salto de Agua.