On March 30th and 31st, consultations were held by the Government of Mexico, through the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP in its Spanish acronym) and the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI in its Spanish acronym). They were directed to indigenous peoples to pronounce themselves on the “Integral Development Program of the Tehuantepec Isthmus”, a development project that would include the modernization of the ports of Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca, and Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz, and that aims to recover the railway of around 300 kilometers between both points.
Seven Regional Consultative Assemblies were held. On March 30th, 501 representatives were prsent in Jaltepec de Candayoc; in Santiago Laollaga, 479; in Salina Cruz, 183 (headquarters established at the last moment because the community of San Mateo del Mar – where it would originally have taken place – announced its rejection of the program); and in San Pedro Huamelula, 275. The following day more than a thousand people were in Santa María Chimalapa; in Oteapan, Veracruz, 549 and in Uxpanapa there were 705 representatives.
The process has been questioned by several indigenous groups, including the National Indigenous Congress (CNI in its Spanish acronym) and the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN in its Spanish acronym), which said in a statement: “We reject and ignore any simulation that proposes the imposition of megaprojects of death, as is the supposed consultation that the bad governments intend to carry out in various communities of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec on March 30th and 31st. We denounce the corrupt practices that bad governments through the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples have been carrying out in order to divide, deceive and intimidate our communities, where they offer programs and projects in exchange for saying ‘yes’ in their supposed consultations, as if territory and natural resources were not at stake.”
Several civil and social organizations of Oaxaca also strongly rejected the holding of the Assemblies and the haste with which they have been organised from a way unrelated to “the times, uses, customs and forms of decision making of the communities, as well as their representative representatives.” They considered that “Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the general comments and recommendations emanating from the universal system of human rights” are not being respected. They stressed in particular that “indigenous consultation processes are not a single punctual act, but must be carried out in all phases of planning and implementation; we observed and denounced the violation of the prior nature of the consultation and consent, as it was reported in December 2018 when presenting the project in reference to investments that were already contemplated for this project of the Tehuantepec Isthmus, which confirms that the regional consultative assemblies are a simple formality for projects that have already been begun to be implemented.”
Participation in the Forums did not imply a necessary endorsement of the project. For example, in Santa Maria Chimalapa, the representatives asked that their old agrarian conflict be resolved in the border between Oaxaca and Chiapas, and that a program of attention to their demands and needs be incorporated before considering this Program. For their part, members of the Network of Community Defenders of the Peoples of Oaxaca (REDECOM in its Spanish acronym) were present during the consultations, denouncing that it was an express consultation and in the manner of governmental interests.
For his part, the head of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples, Adelfo Regino Montes said in the media that the statutes of ILO Convention 169 were respected and said that “in a second stage specific consultation processes will be carried out in cases of direct effect to the lands and other fundamental aspects of the life of the indigenous communities of the region. “
For more information in Spanish:
Programa del Istmo, de la mano con indígenas (NVI Noticias, 28 de marzo de 2019)
Denuncia el PCI-UCIZONI Oaxaca violación a derechos de los pueblos indígenas del Istmo de Tehuantepec por parte del INPI (PCI-Ucizoni, 28 de marzo de 2019)
Cambian de sede la consulta sobre proyecto del Istmo (La Jornada, 29 de marzo de 2019)
Cumplimos convenio de la OIT en consulta del Istmo de Tehuantepec: Adelfo Regino (Aristegui Noticias, 29 de marzo de 2019)
CONSULTA EN EL ISTMO DE TEHUANTEPEC, GRAVE SIMULACIÓN DEL ESTADO MEXICANO (OSC, 29 de marzo de 2019)
Comunicado del CNI-CIG y el EZLN ante nueva situación de consulta para imponer mega proyectos en el Istmo de Tehuantepec (CNI/EZLN, 29 de marzo de 2019)
Organizaciones indígenas rechazan Consulta Istmo (La Jornada, 30 de marzo de 2019)
Pide CNDH proteger a pueblos indígenas por proyecto del Istmo (La Jornada, 30 de marzo de 2019)
Baja participación en primer día de consulta en el Istmo (Pie de Página, 31 de marzo de 2019)
Mínima participación en Asambleas de consulta sobre Programa de Desarrollo del Istmo de Tehuantepec (Página 3.mx, 31 de marzo de 2019)
Miles participan en la segunda jornada de la consulta sobre el Programa de Desarrollo del Istmo (Sin Embargo, 31 de marzo de 2019)
Baja participación en foros de consulta del plan de desarrollo del Istmo de Tehuantepec (Video; Aristegui Noticias, 1ero de abril de 2019)
For more informatio from SIPAZ:
Oaxaca: New Consultations in Tehuantepec Isthmus Questioned (March 28, 2019)
National/International: UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Calls on AMLO Government to Comply with International Standards on Indigenous Consultation for Megaprojects in their Territories (March 19, 2019)