Locals demand annulment of contracts giving Conagua freehold possession of Atenco and Texcoco land
*Its purpose was not environmental recovery, but to resume the airport project: ejidatarios
During an open forum held in front of the ejidal house of Tocuila in Texcoco, academics from various universities agreed that the project for a new international airport in Mexico City will threaten the ecosystem of the lake area of Tocuila, Atenco and Chiconcuac Photo René Ramón
René Ramón, Correspondent
La Jornada, Sunday November 9, 2014
Landowners of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco demanded that the Land Court annul the purchase contracts which give the National Water Commission (Conagua) full ownership of ejido land, because, they argued, it has already been demonstrated that the process was illegal.
The purpose was not environmental recovery but to resume the project of building an international airport in Mexico City on the site of the former Lake Texcoco, affecting 10 ejidal nuclei of both municipalities, they said.
During an open forum held in front of the ejido house of Tocuila, biologists, archaeologists and scholars from the National University of Mexico and Autonomous University of Chapingo agreed that the project abandoned by Vicente Fox and taken up again by Enrique Peña Nieto would destroy the ecosystem of the lake area.
The biologist Salvador Gómez reported that three years ago when Conagua began buying land on the banks of the former Lake Texcoco, the presence of waterfowl was reduced to 80,000 per day, whereas before there were 220,000.
“They are ruining the habitat, lagoons and ponds due to the activities they are carrying out.” He said that he has counted in one minute up to 10 dumper trucks with material to fill in the waterholes of the former Lake Texcoco.
The researcher rejected the project because he considered that “this is not a degraded area, as the government pretends, to the contrary it is an internationally recognized site as a hemispheric reserve for migratory birds.”
David Pájaro, researcher at the Graduate School and ejidatario of Atenco, argued that if they filled the former Lake Texcoco with asphalt there would be great soil subsidence which would destroy the groundwater aquifers.
Ecosystems at risk
There is also a risk of flooding in the communities of Tocuila, Atenco and Chiconcuac, which are situated on the shoreline, because this is the mouth of three rivers and other streams which cross the land where they want to build the airport and the highways that would connect to it.
Archaeologist María de los Ángeles Rigel, who has worked in the area, said the construction of an airport puts the cultural identity of the central part of the country at risk.
She recalled that the Tepexpan fossil man, calculated at 10,000 years old, was found a few miles from Atenco, which should be important to the government because long before the founding of Tenochtitlan, our ancestors had already occupied the shoreline.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History has a record of finding 10 mammoth fossils, while the natives of Texcoco said that there are 50 other sites where they have found evidence of the presence of this animal.
Ejidatarios from Tocuila participated in the forum, the majority of them having inherited from their grandparents and parents the land which they fought for during the Mexican Revolution.
Jorge Salinas, Jaime Cano and Asencio Flores, three elderly individuals, called on the youth of Texcoco and Atenco to defend their lands because those who had received up to two million dollars from Conagua for selling their land have now run out of money.
With the new airport, they said, they are going to cut Tocuila in half with the construction of a new highway to give access to the terminal.