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)

 

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International: German organizations call on Mexico to commit itself better to human rights

December 26, 2015

Blog Foto

On 15 December, the Mexican Embassy in Germany organized a meeting with the subsecretary for multilateral affairs and human rights from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Miguel Ruiz Cabañas Izquierdo, for a dialogue regarding the state of human rights in Mexico. After the event, the German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico (DMKRM) lamented that the official had not recognized the human-rights crisis in the country. With regard to the presence of the Army in the streets and the accusations that exist against soldiers for numerous cases of extrajudicial executions and human-rights violations against the people, Carola Hausotter, executive director of DMKRM, said that “the fundamental contradictions between the official discourse of the diplomatic corps and the information received regarding human rights in Mexico that the German Coordination receives through its counterparts in Mexico and international organizations such as the UN has been notorious.” Regarding the problem of impunity, Ruiz Cabañas “denied the rate of 98%, calling into question the official data that support this conclusion.” According to a press conference published by DMKRM, the subsecretary failed to recognize that the majority of cases of attacks against human-rights defenders and journalists that remain in impunity. Due to such “evasive attitudes” the members of DMKRM, which include Amnesty International and the Ecumenical Office for Peace and Justice, called on the Mexican government to “submit a concrete plan of measures to implement […] in accordance with the human-rights recommendations formulated by international organizations, thus recognizing their validity and legitimacy.”

It should be mentioned that on 9 June 2015, the Mexican and German governments signed a Declaration of Intention to establish a binational commission that would incorporate broad collaboration in terms of security, foreign policy, development, sustainable development, science, education, and culture. After the conference “Forcible disappearance, a systematic crime: the political crisis in Mexico,” which took place on 25 October 2015 in Germany, the DMKRM expressed its doubts regarding this project because Mexico “finds itself presently in a profound political-juridical crisis: all the institutional levels are in fact linked to organized crime.” Amidst this panorama, DMKRM concluded that the Germany State must pressure the Mexican government to adopt policies that will help advance human rights.

For more information (in Spanish):

Exigen organizaciones alemanas compromiso con los derechos humanos a Estado (Centro ProDH, 18 de diciembre de 2015)

Indigna a activistas alemanes “postura evasiva” de Peña sobre violación de derechos humanos (Proceso, 17 de diciembre de 2015)

Comunicado de prensa Coordinación alemana por los derechos humanos en México (DMKRM, 16 de diciembre de 2015)

ONG alemanas cuestionan que su país declare a México respetuoso de los derechos (La Jornada, 5 de diciembre de 2015)

Instituciones mexicanas, vinculadas al crimen organizado en todos sus niveles: ONG’s en Alemania (Proceso, 2 de diciembre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/Guerrero: “No more arms sales to Mexico” – German government (8 March 2015)

National/International: German activists reject security agreement with Mexico (10 February 2015