Extractivist Projects Advance on Communal Lands in Oaxaca

The Oaxacan Collective in Defense of Land recently shared a communiqué regarding the current situation of the land and territory of Indigenous communities of Oaxaca. In the state of Oaxaca, from January 2002 until April 2016, the Secretary of Economy granted 972 mining concession titles that in total cover a surface area of 462,975 hectares of land.

The state also has planned the construction of 66 “small hydroelectric plants” and a major hydroelectric plant. In addition, they plan the completion of the construction of the superhighways of the coast and the Istmo and, the construction of a superhighway that unites the cities of Oaxaca and Tuxtepec, through the Sierra Zapoteca. The Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, the sierra of the Zapotecos, is characterized by the extensive biodiversity that exists there.

The six organizations that integrate the Oaxacan Collective in Defense of the Territories shared in their communiqué their concern regarding so-called “Special Economic Zones” (ZEE), that have planned various projects including open pit mining in Istmo territory, wind-farms, the pipeline Istmo de Tehuantepec-Veracuz and hydroelectric dams. Also planned is a 337-kilometer highway to unite the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos, what the governor of Oaxaca Alejandro Murat claims “will compete with the Panama Canal”. In addition to this list of threats, is the operation of the train in the southeast translating merchandize between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

In Oaxaca, there are eight natural protected areas of conservation, lead by CONANP, as well as countless communities that receive pay for the hydrological or carbon capture services which are in an accelerated process of global privatization. This has been done ultimately through the Mechanism for the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).

We, as Zapotecos, have lived centuries and centuries on this land. One of the great things that that take care of the Zapoteco communities is the territory; the great advantage of our lands is that it is communal. The worst disgrace that the Indigenous communities of Oaxaca and the country as a whole can suffer is the land being privatized. The communities are the owners of the land, the forest, the springs, the rivers, meaning life will be assured. The Zapotecos are responsible for caring for the land, the forest, the springs, the rivers and to impede at all cost the intrusion and seizure of land by foreign companies”, explained Joel Aquino, Zapoteco of the Sierra Juárez.

Translated from the original here: http://avispa.org/2017/08/15/19412/