Statement of the Network in Defense of Corn against the attempt to approve reforms of the Federal Law of Plant Varieties in Mexico

This is a statement of the Network in Defense of Corn against the attempt to approve a reform to the Federal Law of Plant Varieties (LFVV) in Mexico. 

Therefore it is a rejection to the LFVV but also to the Agreement version 91 of the International Union of Protection of Plant Procurement (UPOV), an “agreement contrary to all legal logic, because a small group of large producers  — largely corporations — at the international level granted themselves the prerogative of appropriating plant varieties, excluding the possibility of free utilization by the rest of people and communities that dedicate themselves to agriculture, who have domesticated these plants and entrusted them to humanity.”

Finally it is  a rejection of the free trade agreements which seek to condition their acceptance of this legal aberration of UPOV, contrary to biodiversity and the autonomy of the peoples. 

29th of June of 2020

Network in Defense of Corn

SEEDS ARE A COMMON GOOD 

WE REJECT THE FEDERAL LAW OF PLANT VARIETIES

To the national and international public opinion: 

Once again, as we expressed on the 29th of November of 2019, we claim our categorical rejection of the reform of the Federal Law of Plant Varieties (LFVV) that Congressman Eraclio Rodríguez of Morena introduced. https://tinyurl.com/y93j4eon

There we expressed the central arguments of our rejection, insisting that the LFVV entails the grave intent to “privatize, hoard both commercial and non-commercial seeds in general and criminalize the saving and exchange of peasant seeds in an affront to food sovereignty.”

As we well know the laws of plant varieties are modes of anchoring the operation and advances of the Convention of the International Union for the Protection of Plant Procurement (UPOV): “an agreement contrary to all legal logic, because a small group of large producers  — largely corporations — at the international level granted themselves the prerogative of appropriating plant varieties, excluding the possibility of free utilization by the rest of people and communities that dedicate themselves to agriculture, who have domesticated these plants and entrusted them to humanity.”

This, which should be unconscionable, has been gaining momentum, and not the free trade agreements impose adherence to this Convention in its 91st version as a requirement. But the treaties open a space in order to comply with said adherence, and the T-MEC gives a period of 4 years for the country to comply with UPOV 91. And the TPP (Trans- Pacific Partnership) and the TLCUEM (Free Trade Agreement with the European Union) are pushing for the same. 

However, Congressman Rodriguez has been insisting that the approval of this law is a requirement for the approval of the T-MEC. This is categorically false, as other congresspeople and investigators have already insisted. https://tinyurl.com/yc9vrj8m)

Nor should we think that with rejecting the approval of this law the issue of seeds was postponed in the T-MEC, as some media have feasted upon without understanding what is at stake.  Tampoco debemos pensar que con rechazar la aprobación de esta ley el asunto de las semillas quedó pospuesto en el T-MEC, como algunos medios han festinado sin entender qué está en juego. (https://tinyurl.com/ya8ayd9d, https://tinyurl.com/y7re98t2 )

For us the problem continues to be urgente and grave. The T-MEC is, as we have said before,  an instrument of diversion of power that seeks to subject us to the arbitrariness of obscure compromises, behind the backs of the mexican population, and that suddenly threatens us with its regulations and clauses without regard for the opinion of the indigenous peoples, the peasant communities or the people of the city who equally will suffer the consequences. 

So much so, that the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthiser, is already threatening to subject Mexico to a state-to-state controversy so that the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris) is pressured to complete the approval procedures of agricultural biotechnology, which implies that the United States insists on imposing not only rights of procurement and patents as a process of privatization of seeds, and the aberrant prohibition that peasants replant the seed that they already bought, but that it seeks to impose biotechnological crops on us, under penalty that Mexico will be sued before a court  that is foreign to the national legal structure. (https://tinyurl.com/yb8c92j3)

In this context, we must totally reject the Law of Plant Varieties, and not just postpone its approval. It is a law contrary to the natural logic of 10,00 years of agriculture. 

Its definition of which are “plant varieties” is biased and with its ambiguity seeks to make native and creole seeds susceptible to appropriation.  

Instead of recognizing the value and importance of the domestication and continuous diversification of the seeds in a millennial way, these laws and the entire UPOV system wants to sell us the idea that this diversification implies an “innovation” or even an invention, a procurement that deserves property rights, when in reality these acquisitions are the most brutal expressions of biopiracy of millenary knowledges, conversations, and practices of the peoples with Nature, and with seeds.

We must also reject the UPOV system as a whole, even though some sectors of the population think that  the UPOV 78 is acceptable. The Network in Defense of Corn is very clear that all the laws that seek to impose intellectual property over plants legitimize this handful of seed companies that want to bring the world to its knees with its restrictive plant breeders’ rights and patents, and its dominion of the market.  

We must also begin a process of challenging free trade agreements that are no more than instruments so that the people cannot defend themselves from what the corporations and governments seek to impose on them.  

Basically, with these laws, (as the Network in Defense of Corn has been saying already for many years) the aim is to put an end to independent agriculture. 

Their absurd laws are not what should govern the life of the communities and the peoples. Who do they think they are to come and impose upon us?

Only by respecting our self-determination and our autonomy will we be defending the freedom of seeds and the responsibility of caring for them.

Network in Defense of Corn

Pedro Uc, language and territory

Chiapas Support Committee

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

Pedro Uc Be is by far one of the most important indigenous intellectuals in Mexico. Maya born in the community of Buctzotz, Yucatan, 90 kilometers northeast of Merida, he is, simultaneously, poet, educator, theologian, translator of the Bible and popular organizer. He has won three awards for poetry and one for narrative.

Last December 16, he and his son were threatened with death. “Now we’re fed up with you, get out of here in 48 hours or we kill you and your old lady together with the pigs of your honorary children,” they told them in WhatsApp messages. “Now you’re going to stop sucking or your people are dying, you are affecting a lot of local people with your blowjobs and your defense of territory.”

Pedro was born in 1963 in the bosom of a campesino family, monolingual in Maya. His grandparents were slaves on a…

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May No God Remember Your Name

Dialogue of López Obrador withe the Mayan communities this past November. Photo: CUARTOSCURO

By Yásnaya Elena A. Gil

I’d like to start by making a concession: behind the implementation of the Mayan Train, one of the most promoted projects by the new Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the best intentions lay the foundations for its execution. After centuries of abandonment in which the Mayan people have been dispossessed and pushed into a process of indolent impoverishment, the new government intends, at last, to implement an integral project that has as its main objective to create “social welfare for the population that inhabits the Mayan zone” and “to integrate territories of great natural and cultural wealth to the tourist, environmental and social development in the region” as described in the official page of the project.

Why should anyone oppose it? The inclusion and development of the Mayan peoples of the peninsula is necessary if the new government wants social justice to reach the most disadvantaged sectors in the history of this country. It would not be fair to leave them out of the Fourth Transformation project. I make this concession in order to start from a common ground that allows me to expose points that I find problematic in the discussion that has taken place around the Mayan Train. Many other people, openly against the execution of this project, have presented data, reports and arguments to debate all its implications and even legal instruments such as amparo have been used to stop its implementation. I will do no such thing here. Respecting the same initial concession, I will avoid discussing the fact that Alfonso Romo, the current head of Mexico’s presidential office, founded a company that has obtained concessions to exploit the maximum amount of underground water in the Yucatan Peninsula.

What are the implications and possible relationships of this with the Mayan Train? None of this will be questioned because, I insist, for the purposes of these lines, it is conceded, at least for a moment, that this project has been created with the best intentions: social welfare, the inclusion of a vulnerable sector long excluded from the country’s development. With such good intentions, it seems even foolish to ask that the indigenous peoples involved be consulted along the lines of International Labour Organization Convention No. 169, which requires consultation when indigenous peoples’ territories may be affected by a project. Having conceded the above, I would like to argue that the best intentions behind the execution of the Mayan Train are, in fact, the basis of the problem.

One of the most advantageous arguments in the debate is to state the absence of the State as the reason for the current situation of indigenous peoples. The neglect of the State that has always kept them excluded from the development of the rest of the country has caused poverty and backwardness among the indigenous population in general, and the Mayan population in particular. However, I would like to argue that it has not been the absence of the State that has caused the impoverishment of the indigenous peoples, but precisely the opposite. It has not been the exclusion of these peoples from the ideal of development proposed by the government that has impoverished them, but rather the violent processes of inclusion. The Mexican Constitution itself is based on the inclusion of peoples and nations in a Creole project that was never consulted upon. The fact that the very diverse indigenous peoples have been encapsulated within the Mexican State was not the result of a confederate pact between these diverse nations and cultures but of the imposition of the project of a privileged minority. For this reason, because the indigenous peoples predated the creation of Mexico as a country, whatever the State intends to do in their territories should be consulted upon.

The so-called second transformation of Mexico’s public life, as named by the current president, was one of the main causes of the poverty that indigenous peoples have suffered. In the mid-19th century, it is estimated that more than half of the Mexican population was indigenous, and in that context, a large part of the peoples had communal land ownership. As an effect of the Reform Laws and especially the Lerdo Law, communal property was severely hit and multiple indigenous communities suffered catastrophic losses of property and land. In many cases they even had to buy back their own land when they could, but in general this was one of the major drivers of the impoverishment of indigenous peoples.

As a response to this problem generated by the State due to the concentration of land in a few hands, came the third transformation that over time implemented one of the most aggressive projects against the languages, culture and very existence of indigenous peoples by promoting their linguistic and cultural integration. Much of the post-revolutionary project was aimed at including and integrating what was left of the indigenous peoples into a desirable ideal: the Mexican mestizo, a single cosmic race, the bronze race. This integration and inclusion in terms of state power is responsible for the current situation of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.

Now, under the promise of inclusion, the Mayan Train presents itself as relief to a situation precisely provoked by those desires to include. It has not been the absence of the State that has been the problem, but its excessive presence. The discourses of inclusion oppose the autonomy and self-determination to which indigenous peoples have a right, a right which has even been recognized in the 2nd article of the Mexican Constitution. The Mayan Train is not a project that the Mayan peoples have proposed to the federation as an exercise of their autonomy, but the implementation of what the federal government considers to be the best means of ending a situation created by the state itself. The Mayan Train, since its birth, is not Mayan, it is the State dictating again, once again, what the solutions to the problems of the indigenous peoples are. Logically, the project that the state proposes is not the only possible solution to the problems faced by the indigenous population. The Mayan population is not in the current situation because of the lack of a train, but because of the structural violence that has been exerted on them. Is it possible to think of other alternatives? Wouldn’t it be better to dismantle the system of oppression that produces poverty in the indigenous peoples? Wouldn’t it be better, in any case, to return the historically dispossessed lands, to stop the businessmen who monopolize water and territory?

Many communities and individuals of Mayan people have proposed other ways of building and making a dignified life possible, and should be considered within an exercise of self-determination that cannot be exercised in abbreviated consultations like those implemented by the government. In an interview with Heriberto Paredes for Pie de Página, Romel González, the legal advisor of the Regional Indigenous and Popular Council (CRIPX), the organization from which an appeal was filed against the execution of the Mayan Train, gives an account of the colonialist vision of pretending that this project is the only option for the problems of the peninsula: “We are seeing from the beginning a colonialist vision, ‘I come from the city, I come with all the knowledge and I come to end poverty with a train’. It is a modern colonialism, as Comte and the positivists said, ‘I come to bring you order, I come to bring you progress, I come to bring you civilization’.

The discourses of inclusion show from the outset a relationship of power involved: those who speak of inclusion show that they have the power to do so. The directionality of inclusion is telling: who wants to include whom? The discourses of inclusion are the opposite of the autonomy and self-determination of indigenous peoples, paradoxically enshrined in the Mexican Constitution itself at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Every time the State has turned its eyes to the indigenous peoples in the name of development, too often, catastrophe has struck. In the name of modernity and the development of the country, in 1954, the Mexican State displaced approximately 20,000 Mazatecos for the construction of the Miguel Alemán Dam in Oaxaca and between 1974 and 1988 it displaced 26,000 Chinantecos for the construction of the Cerro de Oro Dam. Both projects impoverished the population and generated a series of terrible affronts, in spite of the discourses of progress, well-being and development in which they were packaged. In other cases, the intervention of the State through assistance has also had the effect of creating and strengthening clientelist networks that make it difficult to exercise autonomy and self-determination. The State creates the problems through its intervention and its integrationist pretenses, which has been an ethnocidal exercise of mestizo erasure, and then it tries to solve those problems with more projects born of inclusion.

All this also calls into question the idea of progress and development, which has not been discussed when the Mayan Train is mentioned. The different ways of understanding “quality of life”, “dignified life”, “good living” are often opposed to the notions of progress and development that the state discourse handles. In an honest exercise, it would be necessary to discuss what is understood by development and what are the indices of well-being to be considered from different and contrasting points of view, cultures and conceptions. And this has not happened. At most, consultations have been made to comply with a necessary requirement without observing the standards of Convention 169 as they should be. These consultations do not specify the methodology and justification for determining the consultation units (not all indigenous peoples are organized in a community manner, nor are all ejido assemblies representative of an indigenous population, to cite one example), nor have they provided the consultation units with the information for and against that is a necessary condition for adequate consultation. In the best assembly traditions, it is customary to listen to those who are in favor of a proposal and immediately afterwards to those who are totally against it; both positions have the same attention, the same exposure time, and the same resources.

In the consultation on the Mayan Train this elemental condition has not been fulfilled, so the results of the consultation are, by origin, misleading. It would be necessary to listen to the strongest detractors, as well as to the enthusiastic people of the official project, it would be necessary to listen to those who have fallen under the clientelist networks that with time have created the state as well as to those who propose other ways to attend to the poverty in the peninsula. Once information is heard and discussed in both directions, decision making can become an honest exercise based on good faith. Arguing that Mayan communities have not demonstrated against the train project, if true, becomes a fallacy. The lack of positions against it could be due to many factors, including the fact that not enough information has been guaranteed with arguments for and against it. Without sufficient prior information and clear determinations of the units to be consulted, the results of the consultation are simply not reliable.

Inclusion for indigenous peoples has meant death and impoverishment. Sophia de Mello, a brilliant Portuguese poet, expresses in a poem a good wish for someone she loves: “May no God remember your name” recites the verse that can be read in the light of what happens every time the gods of classical tradition remember those who inhabit the earthly plane: Io turned into a calf because of Hera’s jealousy, Daphne turned into a tree as the only way out from the sickly passion of Apollo, the terrible and bloody war of Troy unleashed by Hera, Athena and Aphrodite in their dispute for the apple of discord. With such evidence, I understand the verse of Sophia de Mello as the expression of the best of wishes: It is better “that no God remember thy name”. Given the evidence of the effects of the state each time it remembers the name of the indigenous peoples in the implementation of its great projects, it only remains to wish for the best: that no state remembers your name. It is better.

Originally published in Spanish by El País on March 10, 2020. https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/03/10/opinion/1583849731_517412.html?fbclid=IwAR05gK8dRnw7TzsyM-IOUigtt95H-gt9g07Mtn1JrC8le4z32Ojry3eUEiM . This English interpretation has been re-published by Caminar Preguntando and Schools for Chiapas.

Federal judge suspends work on Section 1 of the Maya Train

The tireless struggle of the Mayan communities in resistance to the Mayan Train wins a major battle in the face of the obstinacy of AMLO. However, works deemed “maintenance of the existing tracks” a definition that has been stretched beyond all credible limits, will continue.

Chiapas Support Committee

FEDERAL JUDGE ORDERS SUSPENDING WORK on the PALENQUE-ESCÁRCEGA SECTION of THE MAYA TRAIN UNTIL the PANDEMIC ENDS

The Maya Train as new infrastructure for connecting the agro-industrial and tourist-real estate capitals on the peninsula. Courtesy: Gasparello and Quintana

 By: Isaín Mandujano

A federal judge in Chiapas today granted the definitive suspension to indigenous Ch’ol facing the Maya Train project, for the Palenque-Escárcega section, and therefore the National Fund for Promotion of Tourism will have to stop any work relative to that first section, as long as the pandemic lasts.

The non-governmental organization Indignation, Promotion and Defense of Human Rights A.C (hereafter, Indignation AC), which in legal matters represents diverse indigenous Ch’ol communities in Palenque, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo, announced that with this decision the federal government is ordered to abstain from carrying out acts tending to execute the project called the “Maya Train” on Section 1, which runs…

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Chiapas: Health System in Chiapas Collapsed Due to Coronavirus

Friends and comrades in Chiapas confirm that the situation in the communities has become very tense due to the level of misinformation and historical (and justified) distrust of the government and all official entities.

salud

After 120 days of the pandemic in Chiapas, journalists from Chiapas Paralelo and Alerta Chiapas agreed in a discussion “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Citizens of Chiapas” that the health sector in the state is saturated in the effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People such as the SNTSA leader, the union representative from Gomez Maza Hospital and the delegate of the Red Cross in Chiapas have raised their voices to say that the system has collapsed. Citizens contradict the official figures because there are sick people in their environment, people who have sought care at COVID clinics and have not received it; the general figures generate mistrust, Facebook seems like an obituary [page], said Samuel Revueltas, a journalist with Alerta Chiapas.

“The figures are laughable and the truth is that people don’t believe them. There is strong under-registration, the numbers of deaths and those infected…

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Chiapas: Intellectuals Express Concern over Militarization in Zapatista Territory

EZLN

Intellectuals and national and international social and political organizations expressed their concern over the renewed militarization in Zapatista territories since the change of government. Below we reproduce the contents of their statement:

To whoever is still willing to listen:

This is a message of concern for life, for dignity. Those of us who signed this letter are worried about what is happening, again, in that forgotten corner of the Mexican southeast that became the heart of hope and rebellion, Chiapas.

This is not an ideological manifesto nor a declaration of position against the political changes that are taking place in Mexico, it is a genuine concern over what it is felt is approaching looming those from below that after 25 years, of 500 years, continue to resist extermination and oblivion. We are concerned about those who for a quarter of a century have fought for their autonomy, who have placed…

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National: First Report on Monitoring of Indigenous and Comparable Communities Published in Response to SARS-COV-2 Emergency — SIPAZ Blog

On June 18th, the first report on monitoring of indigenous and comparable communities in the emergency due to SARS-COV-2 was published, the result of the collaboration of various civil society organizations that documents the situation of 42 indigenous localities of in states of the republic. Based on a compilation of data in recent weeks, CSOs […]

National: First Report on Monitoring of Indigenous and Comparable Communities Published in Response to SARS-COV-2 Emergency — SIPAZ Blog

The Un-Renounceable Autonomy

By Ramón Vera Herrera

Faced with regulations and unrealistic provisions of various levels of government, the communities, peoples and individuals that refer to themselves as part of the Network in Defense of Corn, just days ago released an urgent call to respect the autonomy of the communities and peoples and to block the advances of extractivist policies that are passed off as “essential” activities. They insist that “the right of native peoples, communities and organizations to be and to remain in isolation and determine when to return to activities, including that of schools,” because it cannot only be the “assessment of people from outside of the communities or municipalities that determine when they should open.” They added, “It is our own confinement, decided on our terms, that has allowed many communities to be free of the pandemic.” 

The organization also insisted that the “extractivism (mining, fracking, the stockpiling and contamination of water), the right of passage and temporary occupation causing ecological devastation and widespread poisoning of our environment” must be stopped. They questioned the mass-production of pork, chicken and cattle, “hotspots of infection and proliferation of viruses that are the structures responsible for the creation of the pandemic that we are currently living on the planet.” 

But power doesn’t even take this into account. It insists on imposing everything. And its projects are not, not by a long shot what the communities are asking for. A few months ago, Heber Uc, parte of the Xa’aybej Collective, of Quintana Roo, pointed out the impertinence of the government consultation that neither asks what the communities want, or aspire to, nor what projects the people have, but rather inquires into the opinions of people about the government/corporate projects, always too late and without information, and with the insistence on the consultation as a legitimation and not as an authentic way of obtaining prior, free, informed consent or refusal. Abstractly, the consultation is an express way of undermining autonomy and free determination, supposedly enshrined in Article 2 of the Constitution.

Impositions proliferate. The insistence of government officials and several NGO’s alike that the “unconstitutionality of the Mining Law is for the lack of consultation, deviates from the crux of the issue, “which is the recognition of the territory of the indigenous peoples” and as such, of their autonomy, as affirmed by lawyer, Francisco López Bárcenas. “The consultation is a process that the state is obligated to, but at its core, ‘the substance’ is the territory, a right of the peoples, that is in the international treaties, and that Article 1 of the Constitution protects. But no one wants to get into that subject,” said the lawyer in a personal communication.  

Another imposition was the Law for the Promotion and Protection of Maize, passed while people feared the pandemic. With this law, one can glimpse the government urgency of supplanting representation of the people from the halls of power. The law declaratively claims to protect corn without touching a single hair on the possible prohibition of transgenics, but then, yes, imposes a “Council” that dictates policies, makes decisions, and establishes situations of various kinds and helps to put into effect what the law imposes: a kind of definition of native corn as a way to establish the cataloguing and the registration of Conabio as a foundational piece; seed banks that not all communities want because the people save their own seed; and areas where the law encourages and protects the cultivation of native corn, surrounded by countless areas where anything  can be planted. These areas will then give impetus to further marginalize peasant production and those that don’t have the food safety certificates that corporations claim to have.  

In fact, the law imposes on the people (undermining their autonomy) that the exercise of their rights is fragmented; it imposes a situation that stifles diversification of native corn by preventing the contiguity and continuity of exchanges of seed and the prevention of transgenic contamination. What is achieved is the much-desired dream of the corporation, starting with Monsanto: a law that regulates the coexistence of GMO’s with native seeds (as if this were possible), but keeps industry and the negotiators of the United States, Mexico, Canada Trade Agreement (the new NAFTA) happy, who have put so much effort into subjecting Mexico to more and more fearsome rules, to pacts where the margin for maneuvering is even greater for the corporations. Toward the ends of harmonization with the T-MEC, the corn law was very much in tune, by preventing regulations (what an oxymoron) on GMOs, and in opening up spaces where it is not important to protect native corn. For this reason, the companies applauded.

Despite the public outcry provoked by the governmental folly around the Mayan Train, the Trans-isthmic Corredor, and its “wildcard,” Sembrando Vida, these three projects are being deployed heedlessly. Ignoring the “multiple protections in which the federal judges have ordered the suspension of activities” of the Mayan Train and that “the National Center for Human Rights has ordered the suspension of non-essential activities of the project as a precautionary measure,” the president shows up in the Península and insists in moving the works forward. We know that it is the pet project of head of the presidential cabinet, Alfonso Romo, together with Sembrando Vida. And it doesn’t matter that countless communities, social organizations, and the Assembly of Mayan Defenders Muuch’ Xíinbal (which been the most forceful voice of the resistance to the train) insist on pointing out the noxious effects that the poorly-named Mayan Train will unleash across the Peninsula. And these harmful effects of the poorly-named Mayan Train are not only the “poles of development” that Jiménez Pons of Fonatur calls on us to celebrate. 

According to the document, Tren Maya, Sembrando Vida, and the Trans-Isthmic Corridor, published by the Center for Studies for the Change in the Mexican Countryside (Ceccam), the triad of projects in question is designed for the pillage and subordination of territory to a complex of uses that disrupt and oppose the community social relations of the indigenous communities: energy infrastructure, exploitation of hydrocarbons, industrial manufacturing parks, cultivation of transgenic crops, agro-industry, real estate and tourism developments, among many others. It is not only a plant to erect infrastructure destined for the transport and distribution of merchandise; it is about generating enormous profits for national and foreign businesses, by unleashing “processes linked to the production of goods, in areas where social and biological wealth have exceptional characteristics”, and where the dispossession from the land and disruption of their community culture, self-managed for subsistence, turns people into a vulnerable workforce after this brutal territorial reorganization, as Daniel Sandoval, the author of Ceccam’s study, rightly says. And so, Sowing Life goes directly against autonomy by dismantling, with individual money, the community possibilities of a traditional agriculture that is still viable.

In the general context of the pandemic, attacks on autonomy are not isolated acts. It is carrying out the war on the peasantry (and their relation with their mountain milpas sown with native seeds). It is hitting with the combined effect of mega projects, land grabs, territorial reordering, and constant and loud money at the individual level in order to break the community, the hard core of autonomy in a country like México. 

In the face of arrangements and dispositions alien to our lives and history, in the face of the diverse conditions of peoples, populations and communities in the countryside and the cities, and for those that continue to live in the seams and interstices between city and rural life, indisputable autonomy is urgent.

This article was originally published in Spanish in the Ojarasca supplement of the Jornada, June 2020. https://ojarasca.jornada.com.mx/2020/06/13/la-irrenunciable-autonomia-278-7229.html This English interpretation has been re-published for the blogs of Caminar Preguntando and Schools for Chiapas.

The invasion of African palm into the Lacandón Jungle

Chiapas Support Committee

Photo of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, Chiapas..

By: Mongabay Latam

In Boca de Chajul, a small community of Marqués de Comillas municipality, in Chiapas, Rafael Lombera has seen large expanses of the Lacandón Jungle disappear and it has been principally —he says— due to the custom of exploiting natural resources and because of cattle ranching. Today one of the causes is the cultivation of African palm.

When you travel to Chajul, and to the entrance of this small town, you observe signs at the sides of the road that read: “Environmental Services Payment,” a Mexican government program that promotes conservation on private properties or on ejidos. That’s how sections of the jungle dispute the landscape with the parcels planted with African palm.

In the municipality of Marqués de Comillas, according to a study of the National Institute of Ecology, are the only stretches of land in Mexico with flood…

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The popular movement resists the narco

Chiapas Support Committee

A view of Acapatzingo Housing Community, also known as La Polvorilla. Photo: José Luis Santillán

By: Raúl Zibechi

In the Iztapalapa delegation (Mexico City) the Acapatzingo Housing Community, where 596 families live, are being harassed by armed people who define themselves as “Colombians,” We’re dealing with one of the popular movements that for decades has been struggling for housing, with eight nuclei in the city that belong to the Francisco Villa Popular Organization of the Independent Left (OPFVII, its initials in Spanish). [1]

The aggressions and intimidations began in mid-April brandishing firearms before the neighborhood guard that controls entrance to the community. “On Friday, May 22 –community leaders report– two subjects who got out of car tell the guard that in the next few days they will come to deliver envelopes, as a first and last notice, which will contain their demands and instructions and that the community would…

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