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Indigenous Communities Win First Battle Against AMLO’s Mayan Train

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By Eugenia López

Indigenous communities belonging to the Mayan Peninsular and Ch’ol peoples in the municipality of Calakmul, Campeche, obtained a provisional suspension of the implementation of the Mayan Train project by the Federal Judicial Power on January 14. The communities organized within the Regional Indigenous and Popular Council of Xpujil (CRIPX) had previously submitted a request for protection against the consultation on the Mayan Train project  which was carried out by the federal government in November and December 2019.

Fraudulent consultation

In the “amparo” request presented on January 6, 2020, the communities denounced “the simulated and fraudulent indigenous consultation ordered by the federal government and implemented to the detriment of the indigenous peoples of Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Chiapas.

They pointed out that the alleged consultation process was carried out without complying with the international standards of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and, in particular, Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The ILO agreement establishes that indigenous people, have the right to be consulted in relation to any situation that affects their way of life and the consultation must “give prior notice, be free, informed, in good faith, and culturally appropriate.”

But indigenous groups claim that the consultation was not free, did not give prior notice and was not well informed. “We did not receive detailed information sufficiently in advance, nor was our right to participate respected, since the structure of the forums of the supposed informative phase, dated November 30, 2019, was designed and implemented unilaterally, so its forms and modes were not in accordance with the forms of deliberation and agreement with the communities.”

Likewise, the indigenous communities maintain that “the approval of the project had already been announced through various public channels before the consultation,” and therefore it was not a consultation “in good faith and was not culturally appropriate, given that electoral ballots were distributed to be placed in ballet boxes which does not take into account the forms of organization and decision-making of the community,” they specified.

Responsible parties

In their lawsuit, they hold responsible the President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador; the director of The National Tourism Promotion Fund (Fonatur), Rogelio Jiménez Pons; the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, and the General Director of the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), Adelfo Regino Montes.

The court grants provisional suspension

In response to the application for amparo, the First District Court in the state of Campeche agreed to grant the provisional suspension.

According to information from the newspaper El Universal, the decision of the First District Court was twofold. Firstly it declared the suspension of the indigenous consultation to be inappropriate because it was already a “done deal”. It also granted the suspension of the railway, real estate and commercial project known as the Mayan Train.

According to the Mexican newspaper, “textually, the agreement with file number 12 / 2020 reads that the suspension was granted “so that things remain in the state in which they are, that is, so that the authorities are responsible regardless of the outcome of the consultation conducted in relation to the so-called Mayan Train, refrain from decreeing the approval of such project, or, having been decreed such approval, refrain from acts tending to the implementation of such project,” until it is resolved on the final suspension.

However, Fonatur is denying the existence of the provisional suspension. In a statement, the fund said that it has not been notified of such suspension and that it does not know of any legal procedure that has been taken.

Continued resistance

The communities of Xpujil, Calakmul, celebrated the news and called on the other towns affected by the Mayan Train project to resort to legal means to stop the mega-project. “We are pleased with this decision and we urge other towns in the states of the Republic affected by the Mayan Train to exhaust the jurisdictional path to defend their right to a true consultation, to integrate their lands and territories, and to autonomy and self-determination”.

On the other hand, they reaffirmed their clear intention to continue organizing and resisting to defend their territory.

“We will continue working on legal defense actions, as well as at the organizational level, holding community assemblies in which we provide information related to territory defense. Likewise, we continue to establish alliances with different academic sectors, researchers, social organizations and with the National Assembly of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) to be held on March 27 and 28 in Xpujil,” they specified.

The next scheduled hearing is set for Friday, February 28.


Versión en español ⇒

Translated by voicesinmovement

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