Chiapas: Mobilizations against the planned San Cristóbal de Las Casas-Palenque highway

September 29, 2014

Foto @ SIPAZ

Photo @ SIPAZ

On 16 and 17 September, there were held new mobilizations against the planned construction of a highway between San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Palenque, both in the Tseltal ejido San Jerónimo Bachajón, Chilón municipality, as in the Tsotsil ejido of La Candelaria, San Cristóbal municipality.  The Movement in Defense of Life and Territory was created through the mobilizations organized against this project.

On 16 September, banners and signs were raised in communities and parishes to express popular opposition to the highway project.  On 17 September, ejidatarios from San Jerónimo Bachajón blockaded the Temó crossways en route to Palenque to demand “the cessation of harassment and threats against our ejidal authorities and other comrades, in light of the decisive defense of our territory and our disagreement with the highway project.”

Furthermore, on 17 September there was held in Laguna Suyul, La Candelaria ejido, a ceremony and joint declaration of more than 2,000 Tsotsil, Tseltal, Ch’ol, and Tojolabal persons from the San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Zinacantán, San Juan Chamula, Huixtán, San Pedro Chenalhó, San Pablo Chalchihuitán, San Juan Cancuc, Tenejapa, Amatenango, Chilón, Tila, Salto de Agua, Comitán, and Las Margaritas municipalities expressing opposition to the highway project.  In the declaration of Laguna Suyul, considered sacred land of the peoples of the Highlands of Chiapas, the writers indicate that “we will defend the environment, the fabric and veins of mother earth: rivers, lakes, springs, mountains, caves, and hills.  We will defend the lives of animals, sacred places, the ecosystem of Mother Nature, and the lives of human beings.”

Also, on 21 September, some 3000 Ch’ol indigenous persons from the Tila parish carried out a pilgrimage in the municipal center against the planned highway projects between San Cristóbal and Palenque as well as between Villahermosa and Palenque, as against the plundering of lands for mineral extraction, and they denounced the increase in drug addiction rates, alcoholism, and prostitution.

For more information (in Spanish):

Acciones de protesta contra la Autopista Sancris-Palenque (Chiapas Paralelo, 15 de septiembre de 2014)
Anuncian nuevas protestas contra construcción de supercarretera San Cristóbal de Las Casas-Palenque (La Jornada, 14 de septiembre de 2014)
Casi 3000 personas rechazan la autopista y organizan la resistencia a la autopista. + historia de Suyul(Espoir Chiapas, 18 de septiembre de 2014)
Chiapas: Desde Laguna Suyul indígenas manifestan su rechazo a la Supercarretera San Cristóbal – Palenque (Pozol Colectivo, 17 de septiembre de 2014)
Denuncian en Bachajón acoso y persecución judicial por protestar contra autopista (Chiapas Paralelo, 18 de septiembre de 2014)
Peregrinación en Tila contra autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque, megaproyectos y cantinas (Chiapas Paralelo, 22 de septiembre de 2014)

Audio-Video:

Ejido La Candelaria: “No a la autopista San Cristóbal – Palenque (Koman Ilel, 12 de septiembre de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Ejidatarios from Candelaria express their opposition to the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque highway (16 September 2014)

Chiapas: An assembly of Tzeltal communities from Chilón municipality reject the SCLC-Palenque highway (9 September 2014)

Chiapas: Los Llanos and San José El Porvenir reject passage of highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque through their communities (14 February 2014)

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Chiapas: Los Llanos and San José El Porvenir reject passage of highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque through their communities

February 14, 2014

Foto @ Frontera Sur México

Photo @ Frontera Sur México

On 7 February, representatives from the Los Llanos ejido, San Cristóbal de Las Casas municipality, and the San José El Porvenir community, Huixtán municipality, reported their opposition to the passage of the planned highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque through their communities.  They indicated having knowledge “that they desire to pass the highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque through our community and so expropriate from us land that is most productive and gives us all to eat.”  They stressed that two roads had already been built on their lands, “and now they want to build a highway.  This is not fair for us, because it puts at risk many of our children and elders who walk through the communities, as well as our animals.  From those lands we feed ourselves; we survive from them, because we have no salaries or wages; we earn our bread day by day by working our mother earth.  We are not opposed to the highway, but we are opposed to the idea that they will take away our lands, which are of fundamental value for the life of our community.”  Similarly, they denounced that the government “has not come to ask us for our permission or not; they simply are saying that the highway will pass through [here], but we are concerned precisely because this land is what gives us to eat; with what will we eat if they take it from us?”

In the case of the Los Llanos ejido, they explained that the construction would imply the displacement of more than 860 persons in that community.  “They have offered us other lands in Rancho Nuevo, supposedly so as to resettle us, but regardless these lands are under litigation because they pertain to Mitzitón.  We do not accept this because it would imply being in conflict with our indigenous brothers who own these lands,” explained the ejidatarios of Los Llanos.  “They have told us that the highway will pass by force, whether we like it or not.  They are seeking to buy off communal leaders by threatening to refuse them infrastructure projects, such as asphalt projects,” they explained in a public denunciation.

The bishop of the San Cristóbal diocese, Felipe Arizmendi, said that “many campesino and indigenous peoples are not seeing this as a benefit for them, but rather as irreversible damage to their lands, which is like a mother that gives them life.  They say that, although they be paid well for their lands, they will lose them forever and they would have no where to sow maize, beans, and coffee–their source of life.  For this reason, many are expressing total opposition to this proposed project.”  Arizmendi explained that a highway is welcomed when it brings benefits to all, not only for touristic agencies and the rich.

For his part, Eduardo Ramírez Aguilar, secretary of governance of Chiapas, noted that there will be “no retreat” for the project of constructing the highway between San Cristóbal and Palenque.  At a press conference he said that “all the rights of free transit” have been established in the Palenque municipality, this following dialogues taken with residents of all the localities through which the highway would pass.  He added that in Ocosingo there also “have been negotiations and only in two communities is there resistance, but we have now progressed through more than 60 percent of the pathway.”  He observed that in Tenejapa, through where a large part of the highway would pass, “we are building consensus so that people authorize the permits through dialogue.”  With regard to the case of San Cristóbal, he mentioned that “we have a problem with a kilometer in Los Llanos and 14 in Huixtán; that is where we see the most resistance.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Conferencia de Prensa de la Comunidad Indígena Tsotsil de Los Llanos por la Defensa de su territorio (Frontera Sur México, 7 de febrero de 2014)

Tzotziles rechazan autopista entre San Cristóbal de las Casas y Palenque(La Jornada, 9 de febrero de 2014)

Una comunidad tzotzil contra la carretera San Cristóbal-Palenque(Desinformémonos, 10 de febrero de 2014)

En riesgo la paz social por la autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque (Chiapas Paralelo, 3 de diciembre de 2013)

Ejidatarios se oponen a entregar sus tierras para autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque (Chiapas Paralelo,22 de noviembre de 2013)

“No habrá marcha atrás” en proyecto de autopista San Cristóbal-Palenque: gobierno de Chiapas (La Jornada, 26 de noviembre de 2013)

Audio-Video:

Conferencia prensa de la Comunidad de Los Llanos (Los Tejemedios, 7 de febrero de 2014)