Chiapas: Bishop of San Cristobal Proposes Need to Stop Dispossession and Continue “Weaving Together” to Build a “New Life”

obisporecibepcDon Rodrigo Aguilar Martínez, Bishop of San Cristobal de Las Casas (@SIPAZ)

On February 2nd, in a pastoral letter entitled “Let us walk together in the light of the Lord,” the bishop of the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez, stated that in Chiapas there are megaprojects “some already in progress and others in program, such as the San Cristobal-Palenque highway, the Maya Train, mining, hydroelectric dams, wind farms, ecological-tourist reserves, the exploitation of sandbanks, springs and wetlands, which are affecting the indigenous and urban peoples.”

In it, he asked “these megaprojects mean development, but I ask myself the following: what to do so that they do not alter the ecology? What to do so that they do not mean enormous benefit for some and dispossession for others? What to do to integrate development – always with human and ecological criteria – to the most disadvantaged populations?”

Aguilar Martínez said that the “rich and beautiful” land of Chiapas “has been mistreated by mining, immoderated logging and pollution of rivers, lakes and the environment.” He added that “the dispossession is also present through the loss of cultural roots that is caused by racism and discrimination, and government policies that do not take into account the word of the native peoples, nor their right to self-determination and autonomy, to live according to their own normative system.”

He said that the security project at the national level “may be very well thought out and planned, but intermediate, and especially final, instances often result in the dispossession of territories, which is achieved through various strategies such as forced displacement, threat, deception in the purchase of land, pressure with social programs, coercion through laws that favor the powerful, and violence that occurs through federal, state and municipal police, the Army, the Navy and the National Guard, as if by shock, paramilitary or drug trafficking groups.”

He added that “organized crime occupies more and more spaces in the Chiapas territory; painfully it adds to the national situation and there is a struggle between competing groups at the state and local levels.”

In this context, he said that “it is important to continue weaving together, because we cannot transform reality alone, or a single community, a single area, an organization”, but “it is our task to weave alliances with those people, communities, areas, organizations that are in a real struggle building that new life.”

For more information in Spanish:

Obispo de San Cristóbal critica impacto de obras en la región (La Jornada, 2 de febrero de 2020)

Envía obispo de San Cristóbal “Carta Pastoral” (Reporte Ciudadano, 2 de febrero de 2020)

Envía carta pastoral (Diario de Chiapas, 3 de febrero de 2020)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Believing People Hold Pilgrimage for Ninth Anniversary of jTatic Samuel (January 29, 2020)

Chiapas: Mons. Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez Becomes New Bishop of San Cristobal (January 22, 2018)

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