Protection and Complaint presented to the Inter-American Commision on Human Rights for Five Mega-Projects

Dos Bocas Refinery

Organizations allied with defenders of territory filed legal and international appeals against five megaprojects of the federal government: Mayan Train, Inter-Oceanic Corridor, the New International Airport of Santa Lucia, the Dos Bocas Refinery, and the Morelos Integrated Project.

Text: Daliri Oropeza
Photo: Office of the Presidency

Civil organizations filed two legal and international appeals against the five megaprogjects: the Inter-oceanic Corridor, the New International Airport of Santa Lucia, the Dos Bocas Refinery, the Morelos Integrated Project and that Mayan Train. They warrant that they are considered in violation of human rights. 

The legal recourse filed by members of the Metropolitan Anti-capitalist-Anti-patriarchal Coordination and the Indigenous governing council (CIG) are a demand for indirect protection under the 15th Court in Mexico City for serious human rights violations of the five megaprojects.

They also filed a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for violating the rights of indigenous peoples, established in the Constitution and which form part of the agreements signed by Mexico, such as the convention 169, of the International Labor Organization. They were filed as of August 7th.

In a press conference, Carlos González, a lawyer specializing in agrarian law, said that for the first time, organized civil society has interjected the resources to remove communities from direct confrontation with the federal government. In addition, with the protections place on all five projects, in gives an overview of the problem and the interests to which it corresponds, he affirms.

“These megaprojects are part of a grand project, the Plan Puebla Panama, later called the MesoAmerican Project, and now presented in a different way. All of them together (the five megaprojects) comply with the geopolitical interests of the United States. They have been imposed, not a single one has consulted with the affected populations, especially the indigenous populations, for which there is a specific procedure adapted to international standards, as set out in the conventions to which Mexico is a party at the constitutional level,” he assures. 

You may be interested in reading “The Inter-Oceanic Corridor: commitment to the industrial development of the Isthmus” (original article, untranslated.).

Defender of Mayan territory Pedro Uc, who was also in the conference affirms that the communities were not consulted in a free, prior and informed way, nor in good faith in the case of the Mayan Train. He affirms that the communities have been sidelined to legal institutions, although “the judicial route is not our great hope. Unfortunately, it is a necessity. The laws are written from a very wester perspective and vision and they don’t look at the ways of coexistence and existence of the indigenous peoples. 

Pedro Uc denounces the fact that “in the framework of the wrongly named Mayan Train, we put in place a first protection that the judiciary refused to accept because in the Yucatán no work was done on it.” He reports that from the courts there is still racism, there are no indigenous judges nor those who speak Mayan. And neither do they consider the ways of organizaiton of the indigenous communities. 

“The paradox is that the official discourse talks about how the train is going to remedy our problems of marginalization, of poverty, of health, of education. This is one of the discourses of all of the past governments. And now the train is the miraculous god that is going to meet all of our needs. This is what they have made many people believe … A train is not going to resolve our problem. We want to coexist, our forests, our animals and make decisions about our development, and we want them not to treat us like fools as they have for 500 years,” he adds.

According to attorney Carlos Gonzalez, from the government comes the pretext of reorganizing territories, with these five megaprojects, besides buying gas from the United States, for which they are proposing more pipelines, thermoelectric plants and industrial zones of thirst. The Trans-Isthmic Corridor that would connect with the southwest, as it is a “hinge” megaproject. 

The lawyer reiterates: “The intend to build 10 urban-industrial corridors, they are trying to establish the population so that they do not migrate to the north. In the Mayan Train project, which includes 30 stations, they hope to build development centers in 19 of them, and some industrial ones. Urban industrial or tourist corridors. All these projects have a tremendous impact on the populations and on nature”.

You might be interested in reading The Mayan Train and Resistance in Times of Pandemic (original article, untranslated.)

Territory defender Pedro Uc, assured that the communities would continue with legal strategies and any way to ensure the life of their people and nature.

“The violation of the powers that be of their own laws is a real shame. Even with laws for their own benefit, there is still not enough for them to plunder, even with the way that they have of taking advantage, of malice, premeditation, we have learned how to find the loopholes and nooks and crannies of these laws to defend ourselves,” he charges.

Additionally, he denounces that the issue of the consultation has been a mockery on the part of the government and that they have not once approached the defenders of the territory to engage in dialogue. “Since before the current president took office, he had already announced  the construction of the wrongly-named train, and this makes us think that what follows is a kind of justification for a decision that was already made. He deployed propaganda and crusaded with the ejidal commissioners through Fonatur’s staff (the National Tourism Fund),” reports Uc, who points out that they offered scholarships and support from “Bienestar” (Well-being) in exchange for endorsing the project, which the communities still don’t fully know about.

He emphasizes that the next 135 consultations that Semarnat (Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources) announced on the Peninsula to evaluate the Environmental Impact Statement are also in violation of the rights of the Mayan peoples, as the project has not been endorsed. It cannot continue to go forward legally if the communities don’t accept it, he stresses.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Pie de Pagina on August 11, 2020. https://piedepagina.mx/organizaciones-presentan-amparo-y-queja-ante-la-cidh-por-megaproyectos/ This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.