Peasant Farmer Organizations Announce Rebellion Against Energy Reform
La Jornada: Roberto Rico*
Peasant and indigenous farmer organizations give this warning: Do not touch communal property in the countryside. However, the government remains committed to stirring up a conflict that is already present in various parts of the country, and its spread seems imminent.
After a meeting of peasant leaders in the Senate and a discussion at the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB], the response by officials and legislators is the same: first they called them ‘rights of way’, now they call them ‘temporary occupations’. Their purpose is similar: the dispossession of indigenous and peasant lands. It has to do with converting transnational corporations into owners of very large estates [latifundistas]; thus, guaranteeing legal certainty for their investments through asymmetrical negotiations. The federal government will play a central role in these negotiations, since it will have the broadest powers to establish areas of exploration and exploitation that will take precedence over peasant activities and the property rights of indigenous communities and agricultural centres.
As a result of the meeting between authorities and peasant leaders at the SEGOB, on June 19 a meeting was held with the committee for reform of the countryside headed by the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA). The Secretary, through the person in charge of the official forums, gave a report, which was followed, in turn, by remarks made by representatives of farmer organizations (Conorp, CAP). Two legislators and the representative of the government of Sinaloa also spoke.
The secretary solemnly announced the official proposal: sign a framework agreement with the President on August 8. In order to prevent anyone from breaking that framework, the proposal was submitted to a vote by over 25 officials and organizational representatives.
The peasant movement responded to the fictitious consultation for reform of the countryside convened by the federal government by organizing their own meetings for discussion and debate. They called on the State to negotiate based on full respect for their demands.
In Torreón, Coahuila, producers of corn, beans, sorghum, wheat, meat, milk, apples, melons and chiles met. They came from Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango, Sinaloa, Sonora, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas. They agreed to march together to the Zócalo in Mexico City [on July 23] for a:
- Fair price for their products;
- Reduction and freeze on the price of diesel, electricity, seeds and fertilizer; and that the
- Mexican State might form an enterprise for warehousing and marketing [agricultural products].
Meetings held in Playa del Carmen, Campeche; Zaachila, Oaxaca, and Celaya, Guanajuato, formulated similar demands, among which are:
First. Adopt a general law of consultation and free and informed prior consent for indigenous peoples and communities. The law should establish a system of safeguards and protection of forests and their inhabitants, following international agreements for indigenous peoples signed by the Mexican government.
Second. Remove from discussion the articles of the presidential initiative for the hydrocarbons law that establish legal easements and temporary occupations.
Third. [Specify] that the special concurrent program be multi-year, in order to accommodate strategic planning with outcomes for indigenous and peasant development.
Fourth. [Institute] a program of support and subsidy for diesel, natural gas and gasoline for farmers.
Fifth. [Recognize] that organized peasant and indigenous communal entities are to be considered bodies of public interest owing to the contributions that the countryside has made in developing and strengthening the country.
Sixth. [Institute] an enterprise of a statist nature that would act directly in the agricultural and food market through price regulations and compensatory public policies for both producers and consumers, thereby lowering the prices of basic food products. In order to assure full food sovereignty: No transgenic maize [corn] and no [agricultural] monopolies.
Seventh. Release, by means of an amnesty law, political prisoners, whose sole responsibility has been defense of their territories and their communities in opposition to megaprojects that undermine and devastate the natural resources in their territory.
Eighth. Create a bank for agriculture and rural development with first and second level functions, an entity with its own assets and functional autonomy whose mission would be to finance the production of staple foods, promote chains of value, foster sustainable development and encourage rural financial intermediaries operated by producers.
These organizations know that the current situation, permeated by violence both by organized crime and that unleashed by the State, requires an extensive unification. The first proposal is to carry out the great mobilization on July 23 in Mexico City, as well as actions in the states, particularly on the international bridges.
A legitimate, peaceful and legal peasant uprising provoked by the attempted looting of their lands can have a greater political and social impact than that generated by the original actions of the self-defense groups in Michoacán.
*Roberto Rico, peasant leader, is also author of the book "The Return: Union of Peoples’ Communities in the Valley of Mexico" [i.e., Mexico City] [El retorno: la
Unión de Colonias Populares del Valle de México].
Farmers Groups Protest Energy Reform With ‘Mega-March’ in Mexico City
Peasant farmer organizations marched Wednesday to protest expropriation of their land under Energy Bill
On Wednesday, members of campesino [peasant farmer] organizations participated in a mega-march from different parts of Mexico City to the Zócalo to protest the energy reform and to demand a reform of the countryside [agrarian reform] and protection of the rights of campesino and indigenous peoples.
On Wednesday morning, members of agricultural associations gathered near the Angel of Independence, the Stele of Light and the headquarters of the Secretariat of Government Relations [SEGOB] to carry out the march whose route followed Reforma Boulevard to Bucareli [SEGOB headquarters] and then end up in the Zócalo [Mexico City's main square].
The Secretariat of Public Security for the Federal District (SSPDF) told CNNMéxico that there had been no reported incidents during the march, and they estimated that 60,000 people participated…. News reports citing campesinoorganizations themselves, suggest that there were between 10,000 and 30,000 demonstrators. …
Among the organizations protesting were: the Movement for Food Sovereignty, Defense of the Earth and Water, Natural Resources and the Territory; the Permanent Agrarian Congress; the National Council of Peasant Organizations; the National Confederation of Small Farmers; the Mexican Agrarian Confederation; Antorcha Campesina [Peasant Firebrand]; El Barzón; the National Movement of 400 Pueblos, and the Francisco [i.e., Pancho] Villa 21st Century Popular Front, among others.
The campesino farmers are seeking dialogue with federal authorities with the intent of discussing issues important to their industry, such as a farm bill and the rights of indigenous and peasant people. Another point that concerns agricultural organizations are provisions of the energy reform regarding the use of land for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.
The legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate and is now under review in the Chamber of Deputies, establishes that when a property held by individual or communal landowners might have oil or gas, it will be possible to put it into voluntary service, or temporary occupation, by means of an agreement between the owners and the individuals who want to exploit the energy resources. For the organizations, this amounts to an expropriation of land and affects property rights.
MV Note: the legislation gives priority to hydorcarbon extraction over any other use of the land and makes possible the "temporary occupation" of land for exploration and extraction in which the government can override the wishes of the owners and grant concessions to private companies.
Translations by Jane Brundage