Mexico/National: Deputies approve Federal law on Special Economic Zones (SEZs)

December 26, 2015

Ubicación de las Zonas Económicas Especiales. Imagen: @Dinero en Imagen

Location of Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Image: @Dinero en Imagen

On 14 December the Chamber of Deputies approved the initiative to legalize Special Economic Zones (SEZ) which had been presented to the federal Congress in September of this year. These SEZs will be regions in which investors face financial benefits, particularly in terms of “flexible labor.” In this sense, the SEZs serve foreign economic interests and would institute a special customs regime, all of this toward the end, as the government claims, of promoting development in southern Mexico by means of attracting foreign investment.

In accordance with information from the president’s office, there are plans to build infrastructure projects using an initial investment of nearly 115 billion pesos, including new gaseoducts, railroads, highways, ports, and airports. According to Chiapas Paralelo, this investment would come from public coffers but is “designed for by by private capital, in a mercantile logic […] whereby the people of Chiapas is present only as labor, leaving to the side the question of who owns the natural resources.” In this way, the projects are expected to create 115,000 jobs over the next 10 years, though analysts indicate that it will attract specialists from elsewhere in the country, leaving the most precarious jobs for locals.

The planned SEZs include the “Lázaro Cárdenas” port, incorporating municipalities straddling Michoacán and Guerrero toward the end of exploitation; the “Interoceanic Corridor of Tehuantepec,” which will affect Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Salina Cruz, and Oaxaca, and will permit commercial transit between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico; and lastly, the “Chiapas Port” which would facilitate exports to Asia. The permits to construct and administer a zone can be granted for up to 40 years.

It bears mentioning that organizations like the Indigenous and Campesino Front of Mexico (FICAM) have expressed their rejection of the SEZ initiative, given that “it is a new embestida against the peoples and communities of this country” which “seeks to legalize the plundering of lands of the people” and that “it is the complement to the energy reform, which aimed at reassuring transnational firms juridically.”

FICAM members opined that the SEZs will worsen levels of social marginalization, only “make the rich richer,” and will take advantage of cheap labor in these zones, precisely among those which experience the highest levels of poverty in the country. Lastly, they shared that “the proposal for the [SEZs] instead of being accompanied by public policies to transform the country, but only represents the presentation of the wealth of the country to grand capital on a silver platter.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Diputados aprueban ‘zonas económicas especiales’ en México (Aristegui Noticias, 14 de diciembre de 2015)

Aprueban diputados ley para crear Zonas de “Explotación” Especial (EDUCA, 15 de diciembre de 2015)

Prevé expropiar terrenos el plan de zonas económicas especiales (La Jornada, 1 de octubre de 2015)

Zonas Económicas Especiales, una iniciativa para el despojo (Chiapas Paralelo, 30 de septiembre de 2015)

Zonas Económicas de EPN legalizarán despojo de tierras; complementan la energética para dar certeza a empresas: FICAM (Revolución Tres Punto Cero, 17 de octubre de 2015)

México en el giro de tuerca mundial: Zonas Económicas Especiales (Parte I) (Subversiones, 20 de noviembre de 2015)

Otro eslabón para el despojo (La Jornada, 6 de octubre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Mining reactivation is denounced in the state (3 March 2015)

Chiapas: popular rejection of dams and mining projects in the Tapachula, Motozintla, Huixtla, and Huehuetán region (December 17, 2014)


National: National Program on Infrastructure presents projects with possible effects for the populace

May 16, 2014

Protesta contra el proyecto hidroeléctrico de Paso de la Reina. Foto (@Sipaz)

Protest against the hydroelectric dam Paso de la Reina. Photo (@Sipaz)

During the last week of April, the office of the President of Mexico published its decree to approve the National Program on Infrastructure (PNI) for 2014-2018 through the Housing Ministry.

According to President Enrique Peña Nieto, the PNI “is the general strategy for the construction of works and projects that will contribute importantly to liberating the potential of our country.”

The Program, which is backed by 7.7 billion pesos from public and private funds, comprises six strategic sectors (communication and transport, energy, hydraulics, health, tourism, and urban development and housing) contemplated for 25 strategies and 23 lines of action.

In the presentation of the PNI, it was announced that the program would have presence primarily in the south and southeastern regions of the country, where 189 projects are sought to increase touristic, agro-fishing, energy, and industrial potential.

Some of the projects announced within the PNI that are to be implemented by 2018 have generated a great deal of rejection from the populations that will be affected by their development, such as, among others, the construction of the Paso de la Reina dam in Oaxaca and Chicoasén II in Chiapas, the highway between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque, and the Sureste II-V wind-energy plants in the Tehuantepec Isthmus.  These projects have been rejected by local communities and organizations due to the grave impacts they could have on local peoples, such as loss of lands, environmental degradation, or displacement, given the lack of observation of the rights of local peoples to be informed and consulted previously about any administrative or legislative decree that could affect them, as is stipulated by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which has been signed by Mexico.

For more information (in Spanish):

Enfocan obras en el sur-sureste (Am, 28 de abril de 2014)

Publican decreto para el Programa Nacional de Infraestructura 2014(Excelsior, 29 de abril de 2014)

Cinco entidades dominan el programa de infraestructura (El Economista, 05 de mayo de 2014)

Documento: Programa Nacional de Infraestructura  2014-2018

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: International socio-environmental seminar, the Open Veins of Contemporary Chiapas (12 November 2013)

Oaxaca: COPUDEVER and EDUCA present report on “Paso de la Reina” (19 July 2013)

Chiapas: the International Day against Dams is celebrated (24 March 2012)

Chiapas: Peña Nieto inaugurates international airport in Palenque

March 1, 2014



On 12 February, President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) inaugurated jointly with Governor Manuel Velasco Coello the international airport in Palenque, which according to the national leader “will create interregional communication in a positive way for society as well as for the economy, facilitating touristic flows.”  “Better airports, better roads, better iron pathways will make possible progress and development to arrive by means of connections,” declared EPN.

The new installations comprise 249 hectares located on the outskirts of Palenque, and the conditions of the soil and landing strip will allow for international flights.  At present, the zone receives 600,000 tourists annually, providing 1.4 billion pesos in income, an amount which is thought will increase with the new airport.

Hundreds of campesinos, men and women, attempted to approach the president to submit personal petitions, but all of these were collected by a member of the Presidential Mayor State who said he would hand them over to the president.  At the end of the event the campesinos found their documents strewn about the asphalt.

For more information (in Spanish):

Inaugura Peña aeropuerto de Palenque, Milenio, 12 de febrero de 2014

Inauguran aeropuerto internacional en Palenque, Chiapas, La Jornada, 12 de febrero de 2014

Tira el EMP las peticiones a EPN de indígenas ayer en Palenque, Chiapasparalelo 13 de febrero 2014

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

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