By Oscar Valdivieso
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Translated by Scott Campbell
Oaxaca, Mexico.- Several officials from communities in the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca condemned the geo-piracy carried out by experts from the U.S. army under the cover of supposed scientific research.
They explained that at the end of 2008 the mapped results of an investigation called México Indígena, started two years earlier by a team of geographers from the University of Kansas, were handed over to two Zapotec communities in the Sierra Juárez. What appeared to be a beneficial project for the communities has now left many of the participants with the feeling of being the victims of an act of geo-piracy.
Previous coverage: “The Road To Hell” | México Indígena Research Project Denounced by Organizations of the Sierra Juarez | Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Transparency from U.S. Scholar | Position of San Miguel Tiltepec on México Indígena | The Demarest Factor: The Ethics of U.S. Department of Defense Funding for Academic Research in Mexico | Threat of Genocide: US Military Mapping Against Mexico’s Indigenous
In an assembly in the community of San Juan Yagila on July 24, 2011 in the meeting room of the town hall, the victims said that, “After having reflected upon what happened in the communities of San Juan Yagila and San Miguel Tiltepec in 2006 when the México Indígena project was carried out, which formed part of the global project called the Bowman Expeditions, promoted by the American Geographical Society and the Foreign Military Studies Office belonging to the U.S. Army, we state the following:”
Below is the full text of the statement:
Xidza Declaration Regarding Geo-Piracy
We, the undersigned, Municipal Authorities and Commissioners of Communal Lands from the communities of San Juan Tepanzacoalco, Santa María Zoogochi, Santa Cruz Yagavila, Santiago Teotlaxco and San Juan Yagila, meeting in the community of San Juan Yagila on July 24, 2011 in the town hall meeting room, after having reflected upon what happened in the communities of San Juan Yagila and San Miguel Tiltepec in 2006 when the México Indígena project was carried out, which formed part of the global project called the Bowman Expeditions, promoted by the American Geographical Society and the Foreign Military Studies Office belonging to the U.S. Army, state the following:
• We do not agree with the manner in which the geographical studies were carried out in the communities of San Juan Yagila and San Miguel Tiltepec by the México Indígena project team between the years of 2006 and 2008, because they did not inform these communities as to the origins of the resources they used to carry out this research, specifically concealing the participation of the U.S. Army, and in this way violating the right to free, previous and informed consent which for us as indigenous communities is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; as well, we support both of the communities in any problems they may have later on as a result of these investigations.
• We declare the creation of a single, organized front amongst the communities in our region, known as the Rincón de Ixtlán.
• We will seek to acquire the necessary information regarding the pros and cons of governmental and non-governmental projects and programs which are offered to our communities, with the aim that before deciding to accept them or not, the principle of free, previous and informed consent is applied.
• We demand that our communities are paid, in an unconditional and compensatory manner, sufficient economic resources for the conservation of the forests that exist in them, as it is proven that it is the indigenous communities who have conserved the forests and jungles of Mexico, as well, that this be done with public resources, so as to not fall into the hands of transnational businesses who are only interested in profiting from our lands and to wash themselves of their blame for the climate crisis which they have caused on the planet.
Municipal Authority of San Juan Yagila
Municipal Authority of Santa María Zoogochi
Julián Santiago Cervantes
Municipal Authority of Santa Cruz Yagavila
Sadot Gómez Santiago
Commissioner of Communal Lands of San Juan Yagila
Wilfrido Ramos Hernández
Commissioner of Communal Lands of Santiago Teotlaxco
Pascasio Gerónimo Hdz
Commissioner of Communal Lands of San Juan Tepanzacoalco