Indigenous Communities in Oaxaca Resist Megaprojects

“The struggle isn’t for a piece of land, it is the struggle for the life of the native people who have every right to decide how they want to live.”

By Renata Bessi and Santiago Navarro F for Avispa Midia
Translated by Xiadani Yaremi Gutiérrez for It’s Going Down

The Chinantec people, inhabitants of the Cajonos River basin in the north of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, are carrying out an organizational process throughout their entire territory, the Chinantla, against economic projects that seek to commodify nature as a whole. They are megaprojects such as mining, hydroelectric dams, highways, conservation projects, and, more recently, hydrocarbons. It is not a coincidence Chinantla is considered a priority of economic interest for the Mexican government. It houses the third largest tropical rainforest in Mexico. After the Lacandona jungle in Chiapas, and the Chimalapas in Oaxaca, it is the best preserved and one of the richest in biodiversity.

“The Chinantla is a priority area for exploitation because of its wealth, its diversity. It’s part of a strategic Mesoamerican plan that comprises all that is Veracruz, the Chinantla zone, Chiapas and Central America in the so-called Plan Mérida and Mesoamerica Project. The objective of the Mexican government and businesses is to create a corridor for the exploitation of water, minerals, coal reserves, and electricity-generating projects. Here are the plants, bacteria, mushrooms that heal, and these are all things they also want to take away,” explained biologist Patricia Mora, from the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Integral Regional Development – Oaxaca Unit of the National Polytechnic Institute (CIIDIR Oaxaca).

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