On day 9 of the El Sur Resiste | The South Resists caravan, we visited the Xpujil community, Calakmul, Campeche; one of the places where section 7 of the Maya Train project is being built and has one of the development poles that includes the train station, a military base, nine military barracks, six material banks, a hotel, a casino and a deep well.
The day begins with a ritual of gratitude to Mother Earth in the center of the Regional Indigenous Council of Xpujil (CRIPX), in which words of gratitude for the lives of all those present are shared and the call is made to continue fighting for life.
After the ritual, we start the march along the road, the sun burns the skin, you can feel the lack of trees and the drought that this generates. After more than 20 minutes, we arrive at the construction zone of a casino that is planned to be built together with the station and the train tracks.
The work is controlled by the Mexican Army, which also has a base in that area. The construction is monstrous, thousands of trees have been cut down in this area turning it into a desert area full of dust and stones; Bulldozers and trailers with material work non-stop while dozens of soldiers guard the construction.
Later, in the heart of the Maya jungle and the Calakmul biosphere reserve, it has been announced that the Mexican Army will build a hotel with more than 100 rooms. Activities in that area have begun without any kind of legal permit, environmental impact statement, or any consultation with the native peoples of the area.
An illegal project
Faced with the mega construction that is being carried out, colleagues from the community of Xpujil, begin to talk about the illegality of the project since the community of Xpujil has a definitive order of suspension issued by the Collegiate Court. The amparo (injunction) was submitted in 2019, first a provisional injunction was received, and then the order was ratified by a Collegiate Court, thereby granting the definitive suspension that indicates that only research and administrative work can be done in the area.
Although the judge’s order was ratified after the Mexican Army challenged the order, the federal government has ignored the judge’s order, and the destruction of this part of the Maya jungle has continued totally unpunished.
After explaining the legal process that they have carried out and how the judicial sentence has been disregarded, the compañero proceeds to deliver the judge’s order to one of the military commanders in charge of the construction.
“FONATUR and you, SEDENA, are committing a disregard and should be prepared to face legal charges, and we have the right to stop the work. You’re violating a court order, that’s a felony, a federal crime.”
The compañero indicated that the community will return with an actuary so that the work stops immediately.
We will defend the territory with our lives
The march returns to the center of the Xpujil community, where one of the main roads is closed for a political and cultural rally. There, the compañeros of the Regional Indigenous Council of Xpujil explain how the Maya Train project has deepened colonization in the more than 89 indigenous communities with more than 10 languages that inhabit this part of the territory, since they impose ways of life alien to the communities, thus violating laws and international treaties on the right of Indigenous Peoples to self-determination.
The compañeros also exposed then discrimination to which they are subjected by the three levels of government, since, while the original communities have been denied the right to land with the argument of reclassifying their territory as a nature reserve; They open the door to the army to do all kinds of constructions.
During the rally, the testimony of comrades of the El Sur Resiste Caravan was also presented. They spoke about how in other communities, assemblies have been illegally and illegitimately held to sell land rights to the Maya Train.
On the Nicolás Bravo stretch in Quintana Roo alone, the government has denied all the ejido members the right to make collective agreements. The 35,000 hectares of virgin forest that the ejido had voluntarily allocated to conservation were privatized in order to hand them over to big capital such as the Cancun hotel consortium and the Azcárraga family of the Televisa group.
A member of the Emiliano Zapata indigenous community in Candelaria, Campeche, a Chol speaker and member of the Regional Civil Resistance Organization, denounced the threats they have suffered about being evicted from their home and their territory.
According to the testimony, a person named Fernando Humberto Oropeza has promoted the eviction order and presented himself to the inhabitants of these lands where families have cultivated for years. Faced with this situation, the member of the Emiliano Zapata community made it clear that the peoples will defend their territory against this policy of dispossession.
“As Indigenous people we need a piece of land in order to support our families and we are going to defend it at all costs, whatever the cost. We are tired of so many injustices on the part of the state and federal government. If they touch one they touch all, we are not going to die at the foot of the government; we will die fighting.”
After the rally, we returned to the center of the Indigenous Regional Council of Xpujil (CRIPX) to share food and start our journey to Palenque, Chiapas, the last stop of the Sur Resiste caravan before starting the International Gathering of Resistances of the Mexican Southeast, which will be held at CIDECI on May 6 and 7 in which indigenous peoples from all over the country, as well as organizations, collectives and activists, will unite to work on unified responses to the war machine of the Mexican State and its megaprojects of death.
Published by El Sur Resiste. Thanks to Chiapas Support Committee Oakland for the translation!