Residents of the Choluteca Region of Puebla Demand Definite Closure of Landfill

Cover image: Members of the Union de Pueblos y Fraccionamientos contra el Basurero blocked main avenues in the south of Mexico City to denounce the irregular operation of a landfill in the Choluteca region of Puebla. Photo: Noticias de abajo ML

Inhabitants of 27 communities of the volcanos region of Puebla, protested this Tuesday, June 11, in front of the offices of the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), located in Mexico City, to demand the definite closure of the intermunicipal landfill in San Pedro Cholula.

With banners and loudspeakers, members of the Union de Pueblos y Fraccionamientos contra el Basurero blockaded the main avenues in the south of Mexico City to denounce the operation of the landfill which for sixteen years has contaminated the air, land, and water of the region.

The protestors point out that there is an increase in diseases such as leukemia in the municipalities of Puebla, including Ocoyucan, San Andrés Cholula, San Gregorio Atzompa, San Pedro Cholula, Juan C. Bonilla, Coronango, Papalotla de Xicohténcatl and Tenancingo. Furthermore, through scientific studies, its been shown that there are “brutal” levels of contamination in water sources near the landfill.

Residents of the region referred to a report published at the beginning of April elaborated by academics from the National Council of Humanities, Sciences, and Technologies (CONAHCYT), revealing that these municipalities in Puebla, located in the Atoyac River basin, have the highest mortality rates for acute leukemia in the country.

Due to this alarming situation, the protestors demand that environmental authorities permanently close the landfill to protect the health of the inhabitants, as well as the water sources of the region.

Resistance

Since March 21, organized residents have maintained a protest encampment at the entrance to the landfill, applying pressure to stop its operations. Due to the protest actions, they have daily prevented 680 tons of trash from being deposited in the landfill. This trash comes from places as far away as Mexico City and Oaxaca.

Operated by the company PRO-FAJ Hidro Limpieza, residents argue that that landfill continues its operations due to the political influence of Cuauhtémoc Ochoa Fernández, recently elected Senator of Hidalgo with the support of the MORENA party, to whom they point out as the owner of the facility.

On April 10, after denouncing the high levels of contamination with the results of a water analysis carried out by the National Autonomous University of Mexico, PROFEPA officials temporarily closed the landfill. However, on the night of April 30, local authorities tried to reopen the landfill. Police officers from the municipalities of Calpan, San Pedro Cholula, Chiautzingo and Domingo Arenas escorted a convoy of trash trucks seeking to enter the landfill.

However, the protestors of Pueblos Unidos managed to repel the aggression and prevent the reopening of the facility. During the operation, people were wounded by gunfire.

You might be interested in— Police and National Guard Repress Protest Against Landfill in Cholula

With the heightened repression, and due to the inaction of the three levels of government, in May, agrarian and traditional community authorities of the 34 communities announced the “First Assembly of the Cholulteca People Against the Killer Land Fill and the Megaprojects of Death.”

Celebrated on May 14, those who attended described the landfill as “an ecocide where impunity cannot continue,” declaring its definite closure. Furthermore, they announced the prohibition of all extractivist projects in the zone, particularly related to the Integral Morelos Project “a regional energy megaproject that affects the Nahua peoples of the Popocatépetl Volcano region of the states of Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala.”

Promises

After 3:00pm on Tuesday, June 11, at the end of the meeting with the environmental authorities, the lawyer, Juan Carlos Flores of the Union de Pueblos communicated that PROFEPA promised to carry out an inspection and verification of the landfill this week.

The visit, according to the commitment made by the federal government agency, is to verify two points that the residents of the Choluteca region have denounced. First, that the landfill has not complied with measures to prevent contamination derived from their operations, and above all, that the landfill has no more space.

Flores communicated that, after PROFEPA’s visit, the residents will be waiting for them to return seals marking the definite closure of the landfill and the elaboration of a closure plan.

However, the lawyer detailed that the federal officials didn’t commit to the closure, in spite of having been shown evidence of the saturation of the landfill. As such, he called on the residents to maintain alert in the face of any possible repression.

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