The Siege of Xochicuautla
Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
La Jornada, 15th November, 2014
The community of San Francisco Xochicuautla has been besieged for over a month, almost every day, by workers for Teya construction, escorted by police from the state of Mexico, whose mission is to cut down the Otomí -Mexica forest in order to lay out the toll road from Toluca-Lerma, 40 kilometres long, promised by President Enrique Peña Nieto during his time as governor. Day by day the invaders are met with the organized response of the people, preventing the violation of their territory.
The mega-project will affect an area of forest 22 kilometres long and more than 100 metres wide, which for the company and the government represents nothing, but for the indigenous communal landholders of the ñätho they are lands where they carry out the gathering of food and firewood, and make pilgrimage to their holy places. It is their territory, sacred to the water of the San Lorenzo River sub-basin, and this is why they defend it with their bodies, despite the repression of which they are victims, including the recent imprisonment of eight of their compañeros.
Why has so much effort been put into this road? José Luis Fernández, from the Peoples’ Front in Defence of Mother Earth, explains it is the spearhead of real estate and industrial developments such as dairy businesses and Coca-Cola. A golf club and homes that will expand the area of Santa Fe are also part of the project.
Who is behind the work? The construction firm Teya, according to recent media reports, is the one with the concession for the construction. It is the same company that rose to fame amid the scandal of the residence of the presidential couple registered to Ingeniería Inmobiliaria del Centro, limited company, of the business corporation Higa, which under the name of Teya construction is a member of the consortium that won the tender to build the fast train from Mexico-Queretaro.
The siege of Xochicuautla and neighbouring communities, such as Ayotuxco, is not new. Since 2011 they have been denouncing deforestation in their territory, and since then they have been warning about the complicity of Enrique Peña Nieto with the above-mentioned consortium.
It is important to point out that the common landholders of Xochicuautla are part of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI), a network of peoples, nations and tribes who together with the EZLN warned “those from above, in case you had forgotten, that we never get tired of raising resistance where they impose the machinery of destruction.”