The new airport
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
Los de Abajo, 6th September, 2014
The PRI triumphalism lavished on the announcement of the construction of the new airport for Mexico City contrasts with the resistance maintained by the ejidatarios grouped together in the People’s Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) from San Salvador Atenco, who, while recognizing the breakdown of the community social fabric as a result of the deception and manipulation strategies of the regime, are ready to return and give battle again.
The situation is not the same as it was 13 years ago when, taken by surprise by a decree of expropriation, dated October 22, 2001 by the then President Vicente Fox, the five ejidal nuclei of Atenco and the 13 communities affected began a struggle which culminated in one of the most notable victories by a social and campesino movement in the last two decades. In the years since then, the government has wasted no time and has literally gone into every house, dividing communities, and manipulating assemblies and, simultaneously, organizing the secondary infrastructure to make possible what will be seen, if completed, as the outstanding project of the administration.
"We,” recalls Ignacio del Valle of the FPDT, “had two paths in 2001: either let ourselves be dispossessed, or defend the land as we were, because we had exhausted the legal means and the legitimate right that we have as indigenous peoples."
Today, Del Valle explains, it is not a case of dispossession through the expropriation of our lands, but through the temptation to sell the land. Those who have succumbed to the temptation do not know the damage this could cause to a whole people, he states.
And so it is. The 160 thousand jobs promoted by the government as resulting from the project will turn the campesino population into porters, waiters, drivers, in servitude to the system. It is death for one of the most fertile and generous agricultural regions of the Mexican plateau.
Therefore, Ignacio del Valle repeats, our resistance has nothing to do with economics, or that they are not paying us enough for the land, for we have never put a price on our identity.
After the victory of the people of Atenco in 2003, there came the revenge of the government in May 2006, with the repression of an entire people and the imprisonment of dozens of ejidatarios, including three of their main leaders. The sowing of fear while operating the strategy of buying people has begun operating. Thirteen years later, the project and its implications are the same.
“Leave us in peace,” is the cry from Atenco. Their struggle, more than symbolic, is back on the streets.
Translated and posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity 06/09/2014