Indigenous Peoples Reject the Pseudo-Consultation for the Development Plan of the Istmo de Tehuantepec (Oaxaca)

This communiqué comes from the, Articulación de Pueblos Originarios Del Istmo En Defensa Del Territorio- Apoyo, rejecting the farcical consultation being organized by the AMLO government to justify territorial dispossession and industrial development in the Istmo de Tehuantepec of Oaxaca. The original in Spanish was published by the Centro de Medios Libres and can be found here.

Juchitán de Zaragoza

March 28th, 2019

To the People of Mexico

To the Indigenous Peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico and the World

To the Istmeño People

To all of the Social Movements and Organizations Committed to the Defense of Mother Earth and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico and the World

To the Media

To the Public Opinion

With the political theater of handing over the baton of command and the creation of false Indigenous governorship, from it’s the very beginning, the government of the so-called fourth transformation has made its position clear. It has caricaturized the struggles and demands of Indigenous peoples, utilizing them for its own benefit. It has sought to strengthen its discourse of democratic legitimacy, using certain “permitted” Indigenous peoples to fulfill its plans. This time, it is the supposed consultation for the Development Plan of the Istmo de Tehuantepec, following the same patterns of their other false citizen consultations.

We reject the pseudo-consultation of the federal government, which seeks to set in motion one of the most important development plans for corporations. This project responds to the interests of the United States and the economic powers that for centuries have sought to make use of the geostrategic conditions of our region.

The invitation emitted by the Secretary of Hacienda and the National Institute of Indigenous People reflects the politics of the new government. For the government of the fourth transformation, we as Indigenous peoples are elements to be assimilated, to prevent the hindering of development. They want to impose accelerated and decontextualized political mechanisms upon us that culturally violate our communities, soliciting our observations via email, and as such excluding a grand sector of the population that still does not have access to digital media.

They are using the rights of the Indigenous peoples in their own way, employing a false consultation. In two days they expect to consult en entire region that is culturally diverse and geographically complex. It is not a coincidence that the centers of the consultation coincide with the sites where they have their own Indigenous consulting centers, directed by people of the MORENA political party, with positions granted politically to people that do not represent the communities.

In the call out they mention the people as subjects of public rights, but the Indigenous peoples are not subjects in this manipulative strategy. They want to assure a guarantee to the investors so they can claim to us that the INPI already declared that the project is approved.

They intend to consult us about a project that is already approved and for which they are asking our “opinion”, without giving us the necessary information, without presenting environmental or social impact studies, without even clearly delimiting the geographical scope of the project or its implications. It would seem that they are trying to tell us that since it is a question of recovering infrastructure already installed, we do not have to worry, the consequences we already know.

And we do know the consequences. In the towns that have already had wind projects installed for a decade, we can confirm that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment are not reflected in our communities. The land remains abandoned, fishing is increasingly affected by the projects themselves and by the changes in the climate, work is scarce and the youth are forced to migrate. Dozens of communities continue without a supply of quality electricity, the development projects have left us polarized and in conflict.

The INPI is functioning as a guarantee of the decisions of the government and of the dispossession that they are going to carry out against the Indigenous peoples. They also use articles 1, 2 and 133 of the constitution. They allude to Convention 169 of the ILO and the Declaration of the United Nations regarding the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as if naming them on a paper was enough.

Their consultation is not prior, free nor informed. It is not culturally appropriate and much less in good faith.

Thus, we as the people of the Istmo announce our complete rejection of these processes that lead to the ridiculous execution of one of the legitimate demands of the Indigenous movements, not only in our country, but throughout the entire continent.

Because of its geographical location, the Istmo de Tehuantepec is one of the most biodiverse zones of the planet. The geography of the region naturally forms a corridor that connects both oceans in a short time. Thus, due to its geopolitical value, they have historically wanted to own this strategic region. We remember the treaty of McLane Ocampo signed by Benito Juarez that delivered the states that comprise the region of the Istmo de Tehuantepec to the United States. During the Porfirio regime the United States army tried to take over the region by force, but in the port of Salina Cruz the Modrangón command defended the port and prevented the troops from disembarking. It was until the six-year term of Lázaro Cárdenas when this treaty was repealed, assuring the integrity of the region and national sovereignty.

After the failed foreign invasions and the repeal of the McLane Ocampo treaty, the following presidents began to collaborate with foreign governments to free up the way toward modernization of the region, modifying the laws in favor of foreign investment, making the region more expensive and forcing displacement and migration of local populations.

It was under Ernesto Zedillo when the Development Plan of the Istmo de Tehuantepec came to light, seeking to modernize the entire region, installing an industrial corridor of textile, forestry, automobiles and metallurgical factories, renovating the transportation, energy and communication infrastructure to assure foreign investment, to compete with the Panama canal and position the region as a primary node for the international predatory market.

As the Development Plan of the Istmo de Tehuantepec was not implemented de facto, again the following presidents worked to make life in the region more precarious, to rupture the social community fabric of the Istmeño people and impose MEGAPROJECTS as the first key pieces for the “development” of the region.

It was the government of Peña Nieto who laid the foundation of dispossession with the series of structural reforms that violated the rights of the Mexican people, imposing the Federal Law of Special Economic Zones in four port areas for their “development”, two of them strategically located at the extremes of the Istmo region, Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz. This was the first grand warning of the reactivation of this Development Program of the Istmo de Tehauntepec, better known as the MEGAPROJECT OF THE ISTMO.

The new federal government and its so-called fourth transformation was promoting during its campaign its intention to implement the “Development Program of the Istmo de Tehuantepec” for the modernization of the ports and refineries of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos, the modernization of the railroad with a high speed train and the expansion of the highways between both ports, promoting the installation of an industrial corridor of textile, forest, automobile and metallurgical factories.

Sound familiar? This program is not more than the same MEGAPROJECT OF THE ISTMO that historically has sought to take over the region of the Istmo de Tehuantepec for the plunder of natural and cultural resources of the Indigenous peoples. This project puts in risk national sovereignty, since this area would have its own government and administration governed mainly by US businessmen. This region has been militarily shielded to protect the integrity of foreign investments. This strip of “development” being the southern border to mitigate the advance of migrants to the north of the country and to the United States, since here precarious and poorly paid work would be given to our migrant brothers and sisters.

That is why, due to the lack of information and the simulation of consultations that this new government has utilized as a means to facilitate dispossession, from the Indigenous peoples of the Istmo, we began a regional, state, national and international campaign called, “El ISTMO IS OURS”, of the Indigenous Peoples, of the Mexican people, not of the businesses, nor of the governments. Our intention is to carry out forums, gatherings and activities to raise the consciousness and inform about this MEGAPROJECT OF THE ISTMO, its effects and consequences.


Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of the Istmo in Defense of Territory (APOYO)