Chiapas: opening of new Sustainable Rural City in Los Altos

CRS Santiago El Pinar (@Chiapas es Noticia)

On 29 March, in observation of an initiative that supports the meeting of the UN Millennium Development Goals, Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa oversaw the opening of a new Sustainable Rural City (CRS) in Santiago El Pinar in Los Altos of Chiapas.

>The CRS Santiago del Pinar is the second such experience in Los Altos, following Nuevo Juan de Grijalva. Santiago del Pinar has had some 400 million pesos invested, this in a municipality that was once among the five poorest of the country and with lowest development indicators. Santiago el Pinar provides residence to 460 Tsotsil families. Felipe Calderón took advantage of the moment to criticize the inefficiency with which former PRI governments dealt with poverty in Chiapas: “we are combating it with acts.” Another CRS is being constructed in the municipality of Copainalá.

Since its beginning, the CRS project has been strongly criticized by civil society. Journalist Hermann Bellinghausen claims that it “serves a function for the systematic counterinsurgency that is carried out in the indigenous communities of Southeastern Mexico so as to divide them among themselves and remove them from their territory.” He stresses furthermore that “the creation of these urban ‘poles’ is promoted by large firms that carry weight in the consumerist world: Televisión Azteca, its banking firm Elektra, Telcel, Coppel, a chain of ‘convenience’ stores, and paint and cement rackets.” This, then, could mean that the CRS responds to a interest on the part of the government and some companies to obtain territory in Chiapas or make contracts toward the end of promoting neoliberal economic exploitation.

For his part, Juan Sabines Guerrero, governor of Chiapas, has asked that the agricultural producers of the Copainalá CRS (currently being constructed) change to alternative crops or productive reconversion, as is the case with the cultivation of pine. With respect to this, the Civil Society Las Abejas noted last September that with rural cities, purportedly designed to eradicate poverty, “they now no longer call us slaves but it is the same for us to work in their Project Mesoamerica in their mines, factories, and plantations.” The government “does not want that we cultivate the milpa and other ancestral crops, but rather African palm and pine; with the milpa and beans we eat; palms and pine produce agrocombustibles to sustain cars.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Productores de café de Ciudad Rural Sustentable Santiago El Pinar potencializan sus ingresos (La Jornada, 6 April 2011)

Fundan la segunda ciudad rural en los Altos de Chiapas (La Jornada, 30 March 2011)

Arranca construcción de CRS en Copainalá (Boletín de prensa del gobierno del estado, 30 March 2011)

Discurso de Felipe Calderón en la Fundación de la Ciudad Rural Sustentable de Santiago El Pinar (Presidencia de la República, 29 March 2011)

Adiós a la tierra (La Jornada, Suplemento Ojarasaca, 13 November 2010)

Ciudades brutales Asustables (Boletín de CIEPAC, 17 September 2010)

Dudas sobre Ciudades Rurales en Chipas (vídeo de Noticias Holanda)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ communiqué denounces construction of rural cities in the Chiapas Highlands (22 May 2010)

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