Leaflet being distributed at the Climate March today by groups from the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network
Defending their lands and opposing the new airport in Mexico City
On the front line of Blockadia, resisting climate change
Solidarity with the people of San Salvador Atenco
British companies are involved
In her book THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING – CAPITALISM VS THE CLIMATE, Naomi Klein writes of the central importance of Blockadia. She describes how round the globe local people are taking direct action to resist extreme extractive industries and mega-projects which cause great damage to the environment and contribute significantly to climate change. One such struggle is happening now in Mexico.
In 2001, the indigenous common landholders of San Salvador Atenco were successful in their fight against the building of a new airport in Mexico City on their ancestral farm lands. The Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) became emblematic for their highly symbolic machetes, and their determined direct action resistance.
In May 2006, the government seized its chance to punish the community for defeating this megaproject. Following an attack characterised by extreme police brutality and violent repression, 2 young people were dead, 26 women raped by the military police, many injured, and 217 people arrested. 9 leaders of the Atenco farmers were illegally sentenced to 31 years, 2 for 67 years, and one for 112 years. The people organised, and a national and international campaign for the liberation of the prisoners was launched with the support of the Zapatista-inspired Other Campaign; the prisoners were finally absolved and freed in 2010.
The man responsible for ordering this repression and the rape of the women was the former governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. He is now the President of Mexico, and the Atenco issue was the shame of his presidential campaign. On 3 September 2014, he announced the plans for a new, much larger, international airport in the same area to the east of Mexico City. The new airport – being built on a nature reserve – will have six runways and be able to handle 120 million passengers a year, four times the capacity of the existing airport; it will cost an estimated £9 billion, and have an associated large scale urbanisation project, known as Future City.
The people of Atenco have known this was coming for a long time, and were ready to renew the fight in defence of their lands. For years the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has been using pressure tactics to convince people to sell their lands – now this land is to be used for the new airport. The FPDT are currently calling for the intervention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop the airport’s construction. Works are now underway – this autumn local people have been evicted from their homes in order to build roads for the airport.
The violence and the threat to the local people’s lands has never gone away. Now they are asking for our help again. The resistance of the people of San Salvador Atenco is symbolic of struggles going on throughout Latin America, where the indigenous peoples are defending their lands, their mother earth, against megaprojects being set up by their governments for the benefit of transnational corporations. They are struggling for land, life, freedom, for communal and collective values.
“The land is not for sale. She is to be loved and defended.”
They know they succeeded before because they had worldwide support. Again, they say:
“We need the hands of everyone”
The UK Connection:
The architect: The design for the airport has 2 chief architects; one of these is Norman Foster, also known as Lord/Baron Foster of Thamesbank. Norman Foster, as well as being a very famous architect, is British, with his company’s headquarters in Central London:
https://www.facebook.com/fosterpartners (a post on 24.11.15 boasts of the company’s involvement)
Perhaps he doesn’t know the history of blood, rape, years of illegal imprisonment and misery; perhaps he doesn’t know how many people the airport will displace. Perhaps we should tell him.
The engineering consultants, supervising the master plan for the airport:
Much of the project is hidden behind government secrecy, but according to El Financiero, the consultants and technical specialists for the new airport are the ARUP Group, whose British CEO is Sir Gregory Hodkinson, and whose headquarters is also conveniently situated in Central London:
13 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 4BQ,
They also have offices in many UK cities, including:
225 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4GZ
What to do:
*Inform yourselves – see the links below
*Share the news – the situation is urgent – through all your networks
*Contact other groups
*Write to Norman Foster and Gregory Hodkinson
*Organise an action at one of the offices above. Link up with others!
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group and other groups in the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network wish to initiate co-ordinated actions against the British companies involved in this destructive project – eg a demo at ARUP’s Glasgow offices. We would very much like to work with climate change campaigners on this – if you or your group are interested please contact edinchiapas
FPDT blog (in Spanish): http://atencofpdt.blogspot.mx/
Recent information in English: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/tag/atenco/
UK Zapatista Solidarity Network http://ukzapatistas.wordpress.com/