18: Mesoamerica and the Caribbean: from Zacatecas to Neo Zapatismo
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Central America, the Caribbean islands and Mexico are a frontier of extraction from colonial times with silver in Zacatecas and a sugar cane plantation economy in the islands with Afro-American slaves. There is strong naked violence against environmental defenders, from murders to more subtle forms of violence (racism, internal colonialism, “slow murder” from toxics). In Mexico there is much urban and industrial pollution. MAPDER, REMA and the Movement 4M are networks of the environmentalism of the indigenous and the poor. There is more communal and ejidal land than in many other regions of the world. Livelihood and health, sacredness of rivers, lakes, forests, indigenous or peasant property rights, ecological values of agricultural or “wild” biodiversity and the pride in ancient history and archeology are the non-chrematistic values often deployed in the struggle against the growth in the social metabolism through metal mining, the cement industry, hydropower, biomass extraction.

BACKGROUND

This chapter deals with a world region that I know well, making it even more difficult to choose a “sample within a sample”. I shall move from South to North, from Central America to Sonora and Chihuahua in Northern Mexico, with an excursion to the Caribbean throughout 30 well documented conflicts (Figure 18.1). In many of the EDCs analyzed, there are overlapping social actors and issues. For instance, a conflict in Mexico against gold or copper mining can involve peasant activists who are simultaneously Indigenous and who hold ancestral water and land rights won again in the aftermath of Zapata's revolution of 1910. The material issues are simultaneously land grabbing and water pollution, as well as the impacts on public health because of cyanide or pollution from copper smelting. 1 Guided by this thought of overlapping issues, I start with gold mining cases.

A map of Mesoamerica and the Carribean presenting cases of the EJAtlas, classified in ten categories (biodiversity conservation, biomass, nuclear, waste management etc.).
Figure 18.1

Mesoamerica and the Caribbean environmental conflicts

Source:  A. Grimaldos

THE SAN MARTÍN PROJECT IN THE VALLE DE SIRIA, HONDURAS 2

The Valle de Siria lies 70 km north of Tegucigalpa, in the department of Francisco Morazán. The San Martín project is owned by the Entre Mares mining company, a subsidiary of Glamis Gold Ltd (US), and represents its most productive mine. In 1999, Glamis Gold purchased Rayrock Resources, Inc., and in 2002, it merged with Gold Corp. which has a reputation as one of the nastiest Canadian mining companies. The Honduran government authorized extraction of gold on 14,000 ha in the Siria Valley and the work began at the end of 2,000 with an investment of $45 million. Due to resistance from the people of the area, they only worked on 1,000 ha.

In 2003, in response to constant complaints about ecological and health damage from the local population, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez said: “Entre Mares is brewing another natural tragedy”. A local activist and expert has been Dr Juan Almendares. During the years of operation, the community denounced the evident environmental and social damage: disappearance of native forest, water shortage, pollution, relocation of villages, skin diseases. In the schools, the current issue was baldness. Girls with long hair struggled not to show the damage done to their scalp and boys used black polish to hide their baldness. In the face of this, the government was pressured not to renew mining permits and filed criminal appeals against the mining company. In March 2012, the Court of Administrative Litigation issued a ruling requiring the company to pay 35 million lempiras (US$ 1.78 million). By October 2012, the penultimate presentation of the study on the social and environmental impacts was made to the Committee of Experts for the San Martín Mine Closure Phase project.p. 384 p. 385

In 2013, the new Mesoamerican Movement against Metallic Mining (4M), launched in El Salvador in 2012, provided new information. The operation of the San Martín mine also had a social impact. It divided the community to irreconcilable extremes, worsened intergenerational conflict, increased male-female domination relations, influenced the increase in alcohol and other drugs and undermined confidence in national and local democracy. Environmental defenders have been and continue to be subjected to repression: attacks, threats, judicial persecution. The San Martín mine did not produce economic or development benefits to its area of influence. The municipalities opposing the mining activity had a better performance in terms of human development indices during the period of exploitation. During the exploration and exploitation activities there were no mechanisms to guarantee that the community were consulted or received good information on the contrasting pros and cons of the project.

The company is from Canada. The project was for 40 years, but in 10 years they closed down because of all the pressure and all the environmental problems, they deforested 14,000 hectares of forest. They are reforesting it, but it was a forest that was many years old… The contamination is from water, air and the release of these metals, it is not only people who have been working in the mine, but it is the consequences on the people who live around the mine,

said Ada Zuñiga, from the Valle de Siria Environmental Committee. Infant mortality is higher than the national average. Sonic pollution, dust pollution from blasting and machinery operation, pollution from mine spills, diseases caused by high levels of heavy metals in the blood leading to abortions, births malformations, cancer, leukaemia and other mortal diseases and conditions, health conditions in employees as a result of their work activity, exposure to risk situations and abuse of their labour and industrial safety rights… all these facts condemned the community to be a sick and declining society, with the future mortgaged and about to be finished off by poverty, social and environmental deterioration and disease. The mine has not admitted liability for these damages.

MINING PROJECTS IN COSTA RICA AND EL SALVADOR

l follow with two other gold mining projects in Central America and two Canadian firms, one in Costa Rica and one in El Salvador, both involving the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) in Washington D.C. Both are cases of success for environmental justice. The gold mines were stopped in time, although the companies sued the respective states.

Crucitas, Costa Rica 3

The Crucitas project is located in San Carlos canton, in the province of Alajuela in Costa Rica, on the border with Nicaragua. The San Juan River basin is known for its rich biodiversity (130 tree species per hectare). It is in a transboundary conflict with Nicaragua. The Crucitas mining project included several exploration concessions in San Carlos, where two gold concentrations have been found: one in the vicinity of the community of Crucitas and another in Conchudita. In November 2008, the company Infinito Gold carried out logging in areas it had taken over in concessions of approximately 60 ha. A study commissioned by the Attorney General's Office from Neotropica Foundation and Earth Economics estimated that p. 386the total value of the environmental damage and the cost of recovery of this area was of the order of US$ 674,000/ha. Similarly, the possible direct impacts of mining activity on water sources linked to the binational basin of the San Juan River were denounced.

The paths of conflict in the case of Crucitas have been fundamentally judicial, but with strong social and political pressure against the project. In 2008, the Costa Rican government of President Oscar Arias repealed a moratorium in force since 2002 that prevented mining projects. With the approval of Executive Decree 34801-MINAET, the project was declared to be in the public interest and the company proceeded to enter the area. In 2008, the Government of Nicaragua submitted a request to cancel the mining concession on the grounds that the river is binational and that its pollution would directly affect their populations.

In July 2010, a march by opponents of mining activity walked 170 km. In October, activists from the Northern Front Against Mining and the Coordinadora Ni Una Sola Mina carried out a 14-day hunger strike demanding the repeal of Decree 34801-MINAET. The mining project was finally declared illegal by the Costa Rican justice system in 2010. In 2011, the Supreme Court of Justice confirmed the decision in all its aspects. In November 2011, the Contentious Administrative Court ratified the ruling suspending the company's concession because it had failed to comply with requirements in the EIA. The court asked the Public Prosecutor to begin an investigation against the former president Arias for having signed the executive decree, and ordered that compensation be paid to the affected families.

Infinito Gold continued to file unconstitutionality actions and legal remedies against operational impediments. In 2013, it announced its decision to claim from Costa Rica some US$ 1,092 million for the breach of a concession contract. The claim was filed with the ICSID, CIADI in Spanish, an arbitration agency of the World Bank. This led to a major campaign against the company, ultimately successful.

Pacific Rim in El Salvador 4

The intention of Pacific Rim Corporation to exploit a gold mine in Cabañas generated conflicts, increased social divisions and violence against the opposition, including murders of environmental activists. After arbitration at ICSID, the company finally had to leave. Pacific Rim's exploration activities implied that affected communities would have to leave their land. Possible damages were listed in an IUCN report called El Dorado, highlighting reduction of water availability, water pollution and impacts on agriculture and health.

El Dorado project is located in the municipality of San Isidro, department of Cabañas, 65 km east of San Salvador, and has one of the highest poverty rates in the country. Humid subtropical forests compose the area. After the exploitation of the El Dorado mine between 1948 and 1953, Mirage Resource Corp. began drilling to extract gold and silver in 1993. In 2002, Pacific Rim became responsible for the project and asked for legal concessions allowing the exploitation of the deposit. Local communities were never in favour. In fact, during the exploration activities, some negative impacts were already visible, such as the contamination of some watercourses, which affected the health of inhabitants and livestock. The Environmental Committee of Cabañas reported that ten springs of natural water went dry close to the explorative sites. Apart from the cyanide used for processing gold, Salvadorian investigators found concentrations of arsenic.

The company was alleged to have paid some Mayors in the region to foster “local activities with the objective of gaining local consent to the project”. These activities divided and p. 387polarized the local population. After initial threats to defenders of the local population in the summer of 2009, at least half a dozen deaths among environmental defenders were attributed to the presence of Pacific Rim. The company never really acquired the property of the pertinent lands nor the authorization for its exploitation, the EIA was never approved.

At first, Pacific Rim tried to benefit from the Free Trade Agreement between the US and Central America. It brought El Salvador to the ICSID, thanks to a clause in El Salvadorian law (after that it was amended) that allowed companies to go to arbitral tribunals. The company was then acquired by Oceana Gold, an Australian-Canadian mining company involved in a bloody conflict in the Didipio mine in the Philippines (Chapter 3). The new company continued the arbitration suit for the profit they estimated they lost as a consequence of the permit denial. But ICSID decided in favour of El Salvador and eventually Oceana Gold withdrew. 5

The local opposition to the project generated a national movement against mining in El Salvador. Hundreds of communities and people joined the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica (National Roundtable against Metal Mining), which gained international recognition and support, and made El Salvador the first country in the Americas to suspend metal mining. In 2008 and 2009, both the incumbent and elected Salvadoran presidents agreed to deny the extension of the exploitation licence to the Pacific Rim. After the wave of murders related to the company's activities, several lawsuits were filed before the Public Attorney of the Republic and the Attorney for the Defence of Human Rights in El Salvador. Appeal was made to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

In Geneva in June 2014, the civil-society Permanent People's Tribunal listened to the testimonies of the Mesa Nacional Frente a la Minería Metálica of El Salvador. The Tribunal recognized the actions of the transnational corporation as violations of human and peoples’ rights. The PPT recognized the current shortcoming of international law, namely the impossibility of accessing justice and obtaining a remedy, acknowledging the necessity of a binding treaty on transnational corporations, and/or a peoples’ treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for their actions. Ten years later, in 2022, there is no sign of this “binding treaty” (tratado vinculante) that would hold transnational corporations accountable.

Sometimes we, the editors of the EJAtlas, wonder what a “success” in environmental justice means. In the EJAtlas it often means a project stopped but not always. Crucitas in Costa Rica and El Dorado in El Salvador were successes, and successes are needed to share around reinforcing the movement for environmental justice.

PANAMA

The following conflicts in Panama are with Indigenous groups. Some arose from copper mining and hydropower in Ngäbe-Buglé territory, resulting in extreme open violence. Another case has to do with claims of compensation for sea level rise in Kuna territory, which one can compare to Kivalina and Shishmaref in Alaska, or to some Pacific islands.

The Ngöbe-Buglé against Copper Mining 6

The US company Dominion Minerals Corp. received a mining exploration concession without an EIA from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2006. It was signed by Manuel José Paredes, who appeared as Chief Executive Officer of Dominion Minerals in February p. 3882009, two months after leaving his position at the Ministry. The company was provided with 11 exploration sites in 2007 in the Guariviara area of the Ngöbe-Buglé region, which has been coveted by Canadian and Korean multinationals, the US energy company AES and the government for the Cerro Colorado copper deposit and for the construction of hydroelectric projects. Dominion Minerals bought 100 per cent of the shares of the Cerro Chorcha project in April 2009.

The Ngöbe-Buglé are Panama's most populous Indigenous group, with around 220,000 people. They share a comarca but are two distinct people. In February 2012, the people blocked the Pan-American Highway, and the police caused many injuries and two deaths: Jerónimo Montezuma and Francisco Miranda. The Ngöbe Indigenous communities oppose the mining projects, located in the interior of their region or comarca. The opposition to mining and hydroelectric projects led to large protests against the legislation, arguing for Indigenous autonomy. One well-known leader was the cacica Silvia Carrera.

Their leaders and the government of Panama reached an agreement in March 2012 that bans mining in that territory and Panama requires community approval for hydroelectric projects. (Chapter 22 describes the conflict on the Barro Blanco hydropower dam involving religious beliefs.)

The Kuna against Climate Change 7

“If we’re not the ones changing the environment, why do we have to pay for it?”, said Ariel González, secretary of the Kuna Congress. Climate change is a global threat that impacts small islands like those that make up the Kuna Yala archipelago. It is a phenomenon that can no longer be stopped and will force the Indigenous communities to migrate to the mainland, thus breaking the social fabric and losing the natural and ancestral heritage of the Kuna people.

In 1925, after long years of confrontations first with the Spanish and then with the governments of Colombia and of Panama, the Kuna Yala reached an agreement and decided to become part of Panama as long as its rules, tribal laws, traditions and culture were respected. In 1938, they were given the category of natural reserve. In 1945, they obtained their own constitution and, in 1953, the organization of justice. The Kuna Yala are one of the Panamanian Indigenous groups that initially lived on the mainland and moved or took refuge after the conquest of the Caribbean islands. Their main activities are agriculture, artisanal fishing and tourism. Kuna Yala is a semi-autonomous Indigenous territory. It has 200 km of Caribbean coastline and 2,500 km2 of shallow-water marine areas.

With rising sea levels and temperatures, their main threats are the disappearance of the islands and the disruption of the marine ecosystems on which they are economically and culturally dependent. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute estimated that, since 1910, the sea level has risen by 15 cm and will continue raising by 1.5 mm each year. They concluded that sea level temperature has produced impacts such as the bleaching of corals on which a hundred species depend. Due to rising sea levels, the Indigenous Kuna Yala have been forced to extract coral reefs, used as filler material to increase the surface area of their islands. This action undermines a natural barrier, resulting in a greater impact from tropical storms.

The Panamanian government has not proposed an alternative to the Kuna region from where many families will have to escape their islands flooded or devastated by storms and p. 389hurricanes. Some Kuna families refuse to migrate. The General Kuna Yala Congress, together with the organization BALU UALA (an association of Kuna professionals), the Institute for the Integral Development of Kuna Yala and CREA (a Panamanian association for research, education and conservation) are implementing programmes on the islands to raise awareness, decrease the extraction of corals and educate about climate change.

GUATEMALA

Choosing a few cases of environmental conflicts in a country which is one of the most racist and violent countries in the world is difficult. Of the 31 conflicts recorded in the EJAtlas, there is at least one killed environmental defender in 19 of them, a world record. Arbenz's agrarian reforms were cut short by the 1954 coup in defence of the US companies and their plantation economy. This is Maya territory subject to coloniality and racism which reaches to Chiapas in Southern Mexico that Zapata's land reform also failed to reach.

The Chixoy and Xalala Dams 8

One of the saddest chapters of Guatemalan history was written in Rio Negro. Hundreds of people were murdered to build the Chixoy Dam in Verapaz, a region that holds approximately 75,000 Achi-speaking Maya people. The hydroelectric project was initiated during the Guatemalan military dictatorship and the violent civil war between 1976 and 1983. When community members from Rio Negro opposed relocation and sought better compensation, the army and paramilitary forces in 1982 murdered 444 people, the majority of them women and children. The few survivors, only 23 families and a few young people, had to flee to the mountains and far away from the villages.

Financed by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, and built by Italian (COGEFAR), German (Hochtief), French (SISBORIS), Colombian and US companies, the dam forcibly displaced more than 3,500 people. An additional 6,000 families also suffered loss of land and livelihoods. Moreover, the dam and the reservoir submerged mass graves of the victims of the internal war. The victims claimed justice at the IACHR but the case was not settled for many years. Ironically enough, in 2005, the Guatemala Government announced a new dam project, the Xalala dam, by saying “it will be the same as Chixoy”, assuming Chixoy to be a positive infrastructure. The survivors of the Rio Negro massacre who tried to raise awareness among the communities are now under threat because of the Xalala dam.

Persistent efforts by massacre survivors at the Chixoy dam to seek accountability led to one of the first international investigations, exhuming in 1993 the remains of 107 Maya-Achi children and 70 women outside the rural village. In 1994, Río Negro's survivors formed The Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of the Violence of the Verapaces, Maya Achí (ADIVIMA) to encourage exhumations of other massacre sites and the prosecution of those responsible. In 1999, they attended a regional consultation of the World Commission on Dams in São Paulo. The facts were recognized but no meaningful reparation for the violence, nor for the broader array of damages, materialized.

After years of struggle, the government finally signed a legal agreement in 2014 which compels the authorities to donate more than $US 150 million to the 27 Mayan affected p. 390communities. Along with money comes the formal recognition of the violence suffered by the Maya people and a public apology by the State. Indigenous human lives were given a low prize.

Ferro-nickel Mining by Hudbay in El Estor, Lake Izabal 9

I followed this second case in person after a visit with Magali Rey Rosa of the organization Madre Selva. It is a ferro-nickel mining conflict in the territory of a Q’eqchi Mayan community. The protagonists are Canadian foreign companies and local people, one of whom at the end was honoured with a Goldman Prize. The conflict continues in 2022. The Fénix Project is located in the department of Izabal at the western end of the lake of the same name, about 150 km northeast of Guatemala City. Exploraciones Mineras Izabal y Explotaciones S.A. (Exmibal) began operations in 1965 when it obtained a 40-year concession (extendable for another 20 years) to explore and exploit nickel. These operations were halted in 1979 due to the fall in international prices of the metal.

In December 2004, Skye Resources Inc. completed the acquisition from Inco Limited of a 70 per cent interest in Exmibal, thereby resuming the project. In August 2008, Hudbay Minerals and Skye Resources announced the merger of the two companies, and the Fénix Project was thus handed over to Hudbay. In 2007, Skye Resources’ environmental study was approved by the authorities, leaving it in a position to begin operations and build new infrastructure. The reactivation was accompanied by criticism from the peasant and Indigenous communities. In fact, that same year, the company was forced to partially and temporarily suspend the work as a group of inhabitants demanded the recovery of their ancestral territories.

In March 2011, a group of 11 Guatemalan women filed a lawsuit in a Superior Court in Ontario, Canada, against Hudbay Minerals and its subsidiary HMI Nickel Inc. The women alleged that they were complicit in the gang rapes suffered by women at the hands of their security personnel in January 2007 during forced evictions of members of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ community living in El Estor. Hudbay Minerals said it would vigorously defend itself against such allegations of rape. The plaintiffs never accepted the legitimacy of the mining concession and land rights granted by the Guatemalan Government, arguing that it was granted without adequately consulting the Q’eqchi’ community. They opposed the removal and resettlement of their homes and community. In 2006, the International Labour Organisation ruled that Guatemala had breached international law by granting the Fénix mining concession without first consulting with local Mayan people.

Two related lawsuits sought to hold Hudbay Minerals Inc. and a subsidiary responsible for the subsequent killing of community leader Adolfo Ich in 2009 as a result of a land dispute, and the shooting of local resident German Chub. In July 2013, the courts decided that the lawsuits would be allowed to proceed in Canada following a ruling that makes it possible for firms to face liability at home for crimes that occur overseas.

According to Hudbay Minerals, an agreement was signed in April 2009 to facilitate the voluntary return of the occupants to their homes in the nearby town of Las Nubes. While most of the squatters complied with the voluntary agreement and returned to their homes, a small number continued to occupy the mine.

Environmental threats include harm to the region's rich biodiversity. To mine nickel, sulphuric acid has to be used. This causes problems regarding acid mine drainage and contamination p. 391of the (ground)water. The effluents might be discharged in the ocean or in the Izabal Lake. Some communities complained about exploration drilling which caused erosion runoff that has damaged and polluted drinking water supplies. In 2010, no processing or nickel mining activities were taking place at the Fénix project. Hudbay was still in the process of determining how to proceed.

In 2014, it was reported that

On April 4 a criminal trial will begin in Guatemala to seek justice for some of the countless acts of violence communities have faced – and continue to face – at the hands of these mining companies. On this day, Mynor Padilla, the former Head of Security for the mine under the ownership of Canadian company Hudbay Minerals and local subsidiary CGN, will be tried for the murder of Adolfo Ich Chamán.

In June 2014, it was announced that after 30 years of suspension and with an investment of $551 million, the Fénix Project resumed operations.

In 2017, Rodrigo Tot won the Goldman Environmental Prize as an Indigenous leader who led his community to a landmark court decision that ordered the government to issue land titles to the Q’eqchi people and kept environmentally destructive mining operations from expanding.

Polochic: Oil Palm and Sugarcane 10

Not far to the west of Lake Izabal, a very violent land dispute on sugarcane and oil palm plantations took place in the fertile lands of Polochic valley of Q’eqchi’ population. From 1888, the lands were privatized as farms and given to oligarch families of Germans, which employed Maya-Q’eqchi’ as mozos-colonos for the production of coffee and livestock care. In 1978, the Q’eqchi’ population suffered one of the first massacres of the civil war in Guatemala, in which 53 peasants died after claiming land access in the town square of Panzós. The conflict narrated below took place in 2010‒11. Conflicts over land have been aggravated due to the expansion of oil palm monocultures since 1998 and sugarcane in 2005, property of the Maegli and Widmann families respectively, who occupy more than three-quarters of the fertile land. This also brought intoxications and eye diseases due to the aerial spraying of the sugarcane, as well as water and air contamination. Many Q’eqchi’ communities were displaced to less productive areas. However, many continue sowing maize as a form of resistance and subsistence and do not hold any formal land rights. As in Miguel Angel Asturias’ novel, the Hombres de Maíz grow corn for livelihood and fight plantations and cattle ranching.

In 2010, some families decided to occupy 13 farms that had come under auction after the economic collapse of the sugarcane mill, asking the government to sell the farms to them. They suffered daily threats of murder from the private security of the companies. At the same time, a negotiating table was set up with representation of the companies, communities, State and human rights institutions. While these meetings were being held in March 2011, 779 families from 15 communities were violently evicted by the army and the police (directed by the Widmann family). Their houses were burnt, crops destroyed, and the peasant Antonio Beb Ac was murdered. Months later, the peasants Oscar Reyes and Margarita Chub Che were murdered as well, and women, children and male peasants were shot by the private security.p. 392

This case was submitted to the IACHR, which replied in June 2011, forcing the government to assist the evicted families through four precautionary measures. In March 2012, the Indigenous Peasant and Popular March was organized, with over a thousand people who walked 200 km. The civilian population, with the support of organizations, demanded the government to respect the precautionary measures, to adjudicate and regularize the occupied lands, and to order the capture of those responsible for the murders and aggressions. The government committed to accomplish these demands.

In June 2012, the cases of violation of human rights of the Q’eqchi’ communities were considered in the 14th Universal Periodic Review for Guatemala, from the Human Rights Council of the UN. In April 2013, Intermon Oxfam and La Via Campesina carried out the Crece- Vamos al Grano campaign, which collected 107,000 signatures delivered to the president of Guatemala to press him to give living means to families evicted. In October 2013, only 140 families were relocated on farms outside the Polochic valley without capability to cover their basic need to live. There were 611 evicted families continuing to live in the valley, suffering violence and living in extreme poverty.

Map of Central America, Jamaica and Southern Mexico.
Figure 18.2

Central America, Jamaica, Southern Mexico

Source:  Arielle Landau

Cerro Blanco, Transnational Mining Conflict between Guatemala and El Salvador

Due to the location of the gold deposit, in the Trifinio, a reserve shared by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and due to the risk of water contamination in Lake Guija in p. 393El Salvador, this project became a transboundary problem leading to cooperation of environmental defenders across borders. Goldcorp was to exploit the Cerro Blanco deposit in Jutiapa, with reserves of 1.3 million ounces of gold. Goldcorp is also present in Guatemala at the controversial Marlin mine and in Valle de Siria in Honduras. The Cerro Blanco Mine is located in Asuncion Mita, and has been a threat to human life, vegetation, wildlife and water since it was authorized in September 2007 by the government of Oscar Berger, who granted an exploration and exploitation licence for 25 years. However, the location of the site, in the Trifinio, proposed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, could lead to international litigation. It was suspended in 2013 by the local, regional and international opposition.

Environmentalists feared that the mine would dump its contaminated water into the Ostua River flowing into Lake Guija and from there into the Lempa River, a main water source for three million Salvadorans. Several Salvadoran activists were twice kidnapped and robbed by the Guatemalan police as they headed to the capital to protest.

The local church in Guatemala defended the population against the project and joined the protests against state repression and violence. In January 2012, more than 5,000 people from 17 municipalities held a peaceful march in the municipality of Jutiapa, which ended with a mass officiated by Bishops Julio Cabrera Ovalle and Alvaro Ramazzini, historic fighters against mining in the country. In August 2012, the Minister of Environment, Herman Rosa Chavez, stated that El Salvador did not want to go to international bodies, via litigation, to get Guatemala to stop the Cerro Blanco mining project; they were looking for a negotiated solution. This same year, representatives of the Center for Research on Investment and Commerce said they had analyzed the water discharged by the mine and found high concentrations of cyanide, mercury, arsenic and lead, which are directly related to conditions such as cancer, kidney failure, central nervous system diseases and genetic alterations.

In August 2013, the project was adjourned. Until then, Gold Corp had invested US$ 150 million. In 2019, it was announced that Bluestone Resources was contemplating production in 2021 “with solid financial aspects driven even more by the recent increase in the price of gold”. However, Guatemala was not a favourable location with very conflictive situations including Pan American Silver's Escobal mine (Chapter 4) and Hudbay-Solway Investment in the nickel asset in Lake Izabal.

The Canal of Nicaragua 11

Going South, we now consider a state-sponsored development bad dream, the Interoceanic Grand Canal, to be built across Nicaragua, affecting Indigenous territories. The opposition movement was initially led by peasants. The waterway is to traverse Nicaragua from west to east, beginning at the mouth of the Brito River on the Pacific coast and then across Lake Nicaragua (105 km wide) finally reaching the Caribbean. The interoceanic canal would be able to cope with 416 million metric tons per year that represents almost 4 per cent of global maritime cargo. The project would also include two seaports, an international airport, a free trade zone, a residential area to house 140,000 residents, highways, a power plant and 41 depots for sediment dredged from rivers. The construction was to begin in December 2014 and be completed within six years. The idea of constructing an interoceanic canal in Nicaragua is not new. Since the nineteenth century, the US and France considered the idea, preferring the Panama Canal. The idea was resurrected in 2012 when the Nicaraguan administration approved a special law for its construction and created the “Authority of the Grand p. 394Canal”, a special institution to oversee the construction and future operation of the canal. In June 2013, the Authority granted the construction concession to HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., a Hong Kong based company, in a tripartite agreement signed between Nicaragua, Russia and China. The new waterway would be 280 km long. The main advantage of the new route is its width of 83 m and depth of 27.5 m, which would make it suitable for very large ships. All this is not only going against hopes of dematerialization of the world economy but also against expectations of maritime traffic in the northern routes opened up by the loss of ice in the Arctic.

There was local opposition. Opponents such as the Coordinadora de la comunidad negra creole indígena de Bluefields, the Centro Humboldt and the Consejo de Ancianos del Caribe sur and Centro de Asistencia Legal a Pueblos Indígenas were concerned about land grabbing and the negative effects of the canal. A national network named Grupo Cocibolca was created to share information and organize mobilizations. Women have had a very relevant role in this, such as Mónica López Baltodano (politically opposed to Daniel Ortega) and Francisca Ramírez (one of the leaders of the peasant movement). They fear the environmental impacts on the biodiversity and protected areas, as well as the social impacts on the Indigenous and tribal people that would be displaced, mainly the Miskito, Ulwa and Creole.

Since the “Law of the Grand Canal” was approved, they presented petitions for judicial review to national courts and one to the International Human Rights Commission. In 2017, the National Court rejected the petition. Since April 2018, the movement against the Grand Canal, other environmental movements against the land grabbing in the Bosawás Protected Area, the student and feminist organizations strengthened their efforts against the government. Nicaragua has experienced a deep socio-political crisis that cost the lives of at least 200 protesters, including students, children and women, with over 1,000 wounded and around 5,000 arrested and criminalized protesters. The issue of the Grand Canal has been central to the protests against Daniel Ortega's government and the repression.

FIVE CARIBBEAN CASES

Bauxite Mining in a Maroon Community in Jamaica 12

Bauxite is the source mineral of aluminium. In Chapter 16, we saw a conflict with JISCO Company in Jamaica. Here the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), the world's largest producer of aluminium, has been mining bauxite since 1963, converting Jamaica into the sixth largest bauxite producer in the world. Since 2004, prospected in Cockpit Country, a Maroon territory located in Trelawny in the northwest. The company's exploration licence expired in May 2006 and was expected to be renewed. However, communities of Cockpit Country, local and national NGOs claimed that there had been no formal consultations and that a mine would cause irreversible environmental impacts. They formed the Cockpit Country Stakeholders’ Group (CCSG), struggling against environmental racism. “Maroons” are cimarrones in Spanish, the derogatory word for escaped African slaves.

Due to their political lobbying, street protests, judicial activism, as well as complaint letters and petitions, Jamaica's government withdrew the licence for ALCOA and the state-owned Clarendon Alumina Production Ltd's exploration in 2007. The leader of the maroon group, Sydney Peddie, commented: “We will be joining forces with all the influential people to p. 395thwart this issue. It will not happen or else there will be war”. Cockpit Country is a water reserve in Jamaica; 40 per cent of its fresh water comes from this area. It is also home to many maroons, as well as a habitat for endemic Jamaican birds (Figure 18.3). It is a historical site of struggles against the British colonists. In 1979, threats such as bauxite mining, agriculture and logging led to a proposal to declare it a National Park, followed in 1994 by a proposal to declare it a World Heritage Site. However, none of these met with success. In 2006, a petition was submitted to the prime minister asking him to take a stance against all mining activity in the area. In 2013, the CCSG developed a proposal asking for the definition of the total territory of Cockpit Country that belongs to the maroons with a boundary for a no-go mining area.

The endemic Jamaican black-billed parrot (Wikimedia Commons).
Figure 18.3

The endemic Jamaican black-billed parrot

Source:  Wikimedia Commons

Cuba: The Bay of Cienfuegos 13

Cuban environmental conflicts’ history goes back to the loss of the Indigenous population after the conquest and the almost total deforestation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by the sugar industry. These were central moments of capitalist world-ecology. We include here several recent overlapping conflicts in the Bay of Cienfuegos. Located in the south of the island, there is contamination from oil and arsenic spills damaging the fishery, and from p. 396heavy industry. In 1960, the industrialization process began: development of oil refinery, food factory, fertilizers, construction materials, as well as tourist and port activities. The privileged geographical position made it the second most important port complex in Cuba. But the health of the ecosystem and human well-being are at risk.

An event was recorded on 29 May 2018 at the Refinería de Petróleos Cienfuegos S.A. Due to heavy rainfall, the crude storage pools overflowed into the bay. It was estimated that 12,000 cubic metres of oily water were discharged, occupying 70 per cent of the bay. In addition, a report by the UN Environment Program reported a total of four oil spills and one arsenic spill in 2001. The latter generated concern on the part of the local authority, which decided to permanently prohibit fishing. By 2013, Reinaldo Acosta Milan, director of the Supervision Unit of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, said the bay was free of arsenic and only the consumption of shellfish and molluscs was to be avoided. However, other studies warned that this could not yet be determined and warned of possible contamination in various marine organisms.

These scenarios have generated a great impact on the local community, especially on artisanal fishermen. They denounced to the local media that their activity is at risk. They must use alternative activities to support their families.

Cemex in Los Haitises, Dominican Republic and in Ponce, Puerto Rico 14

One famous conflict in the Dominican Republic is the fight against mining in Loma Miranda. For the sake of brevity, I focus on another case: the conflict caused by Mexico Cement, better known as CEMEX, a leading cement production company. Cemex got its bad reputation following the operations in the port of Barahona, today almost a cemetery because of bad environmental practices. In 2012, the Dominican Republic exported 1.37 million metric tons of cement. Some years ago, Cemex Dominicana was strongly lobbying the government to install a plant in the buffer zone of Los Haitises National Park. The project endangered the drinkable water reserves in the karstic formation subsoil. Various sectors of the country mobilized: young people installed a camp in the area in rejection of the initiative, trade unions declared their opposition, as did the scientific and environmental world. The administrative court decided against the company and suspended the installation of the plant. However, the Dominicans feared that the decision would be ignored

It is common for cement factories to burn waste. In 2002, another CEMEX factory, located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, began burning used tyres to produce energy and save costs. CEMEX purchased Puerto Rican Cement to keep expanding in the global market. Ponce is known for being exposed to different pollutants because of the industrial density. That's why the Environmental Quality Board placed an Air Resource Station to measure the quality of the air in this municipality. As a whole, Ponce has been in the range of acceptable air conditions, but the area where CEMEX plant is shows a high concentration of toxic emissions. The neighbours strongly complained.

In July 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency granted CEMEX a permit to produce energy by burning tyres. Eighty per cent of the costs in cement production are for energy. They proposed to the Solid Waste Administration that they would use 25 per cent of all waste tyres in the country, solving part of the problem the country had with tyre accumulation in landfills and tyre shops. CEMEX invested $21 million in machinery and emission control equipment. Different communities were concerned: burning tyres releases chlorine that when heated creates carcinogenic dioxins. CEMEX distributed a pamphlet explaining how they p. 397were going to manage the process but did not convincingly show how the emissions were going to be handled.

This caused protests. A spokesman from Acción Comunitaria Ponceña por un Ambiente Sano (APCAS) stated that they would exercise civil disobedience if necessary. Pablo Segarra, who was a member of the Environmental Board of the College of Medical Surgeons, also complained. Over 80 citizens and the APCAS demanded the Court of Appeals revoke the permits CEMEX acquired, which the Court did in 2008, demanding CEMEX be more explicit on the types of emissions and how they would control them.

Military Pollution: Vieques, Puerto Rico 15

Since 1938, the US Navy occupied up to 70 per cent of the Puerto Rican Island of Vieques as a training ground for live-fire practice and a bomb testing site. Thousands of inhabitants were forcibly removed from their homes and relocated to the centre portion of the island. Protests finally led to the Navy's departure in 2003. Vieques has now become a national wildlife refuge, yet the pollution was difficult to clean up. By 2014, the US had removed more than 16.5 million pounds of munitions, and the clean-up was expected to run through at least 2025 and was budgeted at around $350 million. Political scientist Amílcar Barreto chronicled how “Portions of Vieques were transformed into an environmental nightmare and a health hazard to those who call this place home… a windfall for the military became a disaster for Vieques residents – viequenses” (Barreto 2002).

While resistance to military presence had always been a fixture, 19 April 1999 marked a precipitating event for mobilization in Puerto Rico and across the Puerto Rican diaspora. When Navy bombs were dropped near civilians, killing David Sanes Rodríguez, a mass outcry erupted. In 2000, several encampments of peaceful protestors were established, and more than 200 of these disobedients were forcibly removed by the military (Duany 2003). This was a catalyzing moment further unifying numerous Puerto Ricans in the US to demand an end to militarization on the island. Meanwhile, the military continued to bomb Vieques (McCaffrey 2002). In February, 150,000 people participated in the Peace for Vieques March in the capital of Puerto Rico. President Clinton offered $90 million to permanently continue Navy operations there but an informal referendum in July 2001 showed that 70 per cent of the population wanted the Navy to leave immediately. Later, President Bush stated that the Navy would halt military exercises and leave the island by May 2003. In 2005, Vieques was added to the US Superfund (CERCLA) list, which allocates funds for cleaning-up toxic waste.

The military abuse inflicted on the island had health consequences. Research from 2000 revealed that the cancer rate on Vieques was nearly 27 per cent higher than on Puerto Rico's big island (McCaffrey 2002). Indeed, studies found 34 per cent of residents with alleged toxic levels of mercury, 55 per cent with lead and 69 per cent with arsenic. The island also lacked a hospital to treat illnesses such as asthma and cancer. Even though the island was later presented as an ideal tourism spot, the toxic chemicals remaining tell a very different story. It is alleged that PCBs, napalm and depleted uranium make the island dangerous. By 2008, it was reported that thousands of unexploded bombs still existed on the island (McCaffrey 2008) and in the area's waters. The clean-up of this nature reserve area has been deemed complete even though there remains munitions debris, some potentially still live.

This is one case in the EJAtlas that raises concern about the socio-environmental impacts of military activities. The fossil fuels spent by aviation and navies, and also terrestrial armies, p. 398as well as the chemical and nuclear risks, deserve much more attention from environmentalists. When we read in this book the people's complaints against chemical weapons deposits in Russia, or against nuclear testing in Mururoa, the Marshall Islands or Semipalatinsk, or remember the pacifist women of Greenham Common in Berkshire in the UK, we have an inkling of a large field for research and action that should grow.

MEXICO

Entering from Guatemala to Mexico across the Usumacinta River, we begin with a case in Chiapas and continue to Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Tabasco and then Oaxaca, Guerrero. Here again, I draw on my own memory of personal journeys since 1990, with close friends and colleagues like Víctor Toledo, Enrique Leff, Silvia Ribeiro, Gian Carlo Delgado, Sofia Ávila, Aida Luz López, Victoria Ruiz Rincón, Federico Guzmán, Yannick Deniau. I also draw on the newspaper La Jornada and Luis Hernandez Navarro.

Map of the states of Mexico.
Figure 18.4

The states of Mexico

Source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Transnational Usumacinta River: nuestros ríos son la vida

Ten years ago, on the border between Guatemala and Mexico, I attended a meeting on hydroelectric plants. I wrote an article for La Jornada translated here. 16

Five kilometres from Tenosique is the exit of the Usumacinta River canyon to the Tabasco plain. The river is big. A very beautiful place. In his book Oro Verde, Jan De Vos explained that one hundred years ago mahogany was taken out with oxen and forced labour and sent downstream for export from the Marqués de Comillas concession. We are on the Mexican side, on the other side is the Petén. I once visited Laguna del Tigre in the Petén (with Magaly Rey Rosa, in Guatemala) and observed oil extraction. Now I listen to the words of Guatemalan and Mexican activists reaching coordination agreements to defend themselves from the construction of hydropower plants. We are near Palenque, which is Mayan territory on both borders with ruins like Yaxchilan. In Guatemala there has been resistance in recent years against various projects located in the upper part of the Usumacinta basin. The company Hidro Santa Cruz has projects on the Qambalam River. During the protests one farmer was killed and several others were injured, the project was blocked, machines and offices were burned down. In Purulha in Baja Verapaz in August 2013, two sons of a resistance leader were killed. And in Xalalá, in Ixcán in the department of El Quiché, which is near Chixoy, there is a big project that is raising a lot of resistance.

We slept with members of the MAPDER (Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defence of Rivers) at the Christian hostel in Tenosique (Station 72). That hostel was full of young people from Central America waiting to board the freight train nicknamed The Beast. The train has no regular stop and no precise timetable, you have to get on the train that slows down at the abandoned Tenosique station. As we travel the short distance to the imposing Usumacinta in the morning, we are reminded of the massacre at the Chixoy River dam during the Guatemalan civil war. I also remember the assassination of Bishop Juan Gerardi in Guatemala when he tried to publish the data of a Truth Commission. Guatemala is a country of fear. And yet there are numerous popular consultations against mining projects and dams.

In Mexico, six years ago there were terrible floods in 70% of Tabasco's territory that left the capital Villahermosa under water, apparently due to mismanagement of the Peñitas dam as part of the CFE's Grijalva hydroelectric complex. The government's promise to prevent flooding in the Tabasco plains with the construction of four hydroelectric plants (1959‒1987) along the Grijalva River since 1957 to date, has not been fulfilled.

At Boca del Cerro, in the Usumacinta Canyon near Tenosique, a large dam has been threatening for 40 years. The project would provide perhaps 420 megawatts of power with a 120-meter curtain. p. 399Various communities and places of ecological and archaeological value would be lost, signs of identity of great cultural value as the foundation of a confederation of Mayan nationalities. The Usumacinta and Grijalva rivers join watersheds in Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas and Guatemala, breaking the political frontiers and increasing transborder contacts between the upper and lower parts of the basins. Resistance movements are re-establishing transnational connections. Nuestros ríos son la vida, our rivers are life, they say. Our rivers are indeed life unless stopped by dams. Mapder and Otros Mundos support REDLAR (Red Latinoamericana contra Represas y por los Ríos), trying to make the management of the Usumacinta on the southern border of Mexico better than on the northern border, where the Colorado River delta ran out of water for the benefit of the United States and to the detriment of the delta's inhabitants and the river's own life.

Mariano Abarca and a Canadian Barite Mine in Chicomuselo, Chiapas 17

The Canadian company Blackfire was planning the world's largest barite mine in Chiapas, southern Mexico. Barite allows oil drilling without the risk of explosion by friction or gas pockets, since it does not produce sparks. Since June 2009, Mariano Abarca, a regional leader opposing barite mining and other minerals, maintained a sit-in at the town hall with other members of REMA (Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería) demanding the departure of Blackfire. The mine was in operation for nearly a year, after 24 months of negotiations to obtain the permits and make the accesses functional. In November 2009, Mariano Abarca was killed and the state authorities closed the mine temporarily. However, the company filed an appeal with the federal court. In April 2010, it ruled in its favour. Finally, the mine was closed after an appeal by the Chiapas government was accepted. As in other cases involving p. 400Canadian mining companies, there were inconclusive attempts to obtain justice in Canada, and demonstrations at the Embassy in Mexico as individuals apparently paid by the company itself were involved in the killing.

Abarca was shot in the head and chest by a man on a motorcycle. He had been violently and illegally abducted by the police in August, and again received death threats in the week prior to his death. In a November 28 email to supporters, Gustavo Castro, an activist with Otros Mundos AC in Chiapas, wrote: “[Mariano was] a dear friend, admired for his struggle against the Canadian mining company Blackfire, and a member of REMA-Chiapas. Yesterday we spoke to him on the phone and he told us he had filed a complaint against the company. Today he's dead”. Seven years later, in 2016, Gustavo Castro again had the bad luck of being the first to report the death of Berta Cáceres in Honduras.

In August 2019, members of the Abarca family, along with a number of Mexican organizations, held a press conference in San Cristóbal de las Casas to mark the anniversary of Mariano's murder. The Canadian authorities exonerated the Canadian embassy from responsibility for its behaviour in the months leading to the death. Abarca had gone to the embassy to report threats and allegations of harassment against community members. MiningWatch Canada, which has been advocating on the Abarca family's behalf, said the decision was made “without a serious evaluation of the significant public interest in ensuring public oversight of the actions of Canadian public officials engaged with mining conflicts around the world”.

The Yucatan Peninsula

The EJAtlas has more than one entry on the conflictive Maya Train project that president López Obrador has been so keen to build. Sometimes, the EJAtlas becomes local news. Thus, on 5 June 2019, Sandra Gayou Soto wrote in La Jornada Maya: 18

The Environmental Justice Atlas website has a record of 2,805 environmental justice cases, including five in the Yucatan Peninsula (…) the following appear:

  • The conflict in San José Tipceh, in Muna, with the solar energy mega-projects called Ticul A and B.

  • In Campeche, the conflict in Hopelchén with the Monsanto company, the planting of soybeans, and the effects on the environment and the bees, were recorded.

  • Also, in Campeche there is the dispute “for the maritime space between the oil industry and the fishing industry, Sonda de Campeche”.

  • In Quintana Roo, the town of Xcalak stands out, which in spite of promoting tourism “the community is not able to obtain the necessary resources to subsist, the tourism sector has excluded them, taking all the profits from tourism activities”

  • Holbox is the last point pointed out in the region, devastated by the arrival of mass tourism and where the “La Ensenada project” was intended to be carried out.

The journalist added that the singer Manu Chao published the link to the EJAtlas on his Twitter account. We were pleased to hear that. Since then, we have increased the number of cases in the EJAtlas by one-third.

Monsanto Kills the Bees 19

Monsanto caused serious damage to bee pollination and large extensions of forest because of the expanding monoculture of GM soy. Hundreds of beekeepers from Campeche and Yucatan p. 401filed three appeals before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation against Monsanto. Genetically modified soybean commercial plantations were grown in nine Mexican federal states mainly for the production of human-edible oil and animal food. From 2000 to 2009, production of Monsanto soybean GMOs was allowed for so-called experimental purposes. In 2010 and 2011, the experimental plantations became a ‘pilot program’ that allowed production of GMOs with or without containment measures (GMO Biosafety Law, 2005). In June 2012, the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Stockbreeding, Rural Development, Fishery and Food (SAGARPA) issued a permit to Monsanto for upgrading the soybean project on around 250,000 ha, from ‘pilot’ to ‘commercial’, without any containing measure. The Mexican Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) supported this decision.

Some 60,000 ha are located in the Yucatan Peninsula, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots (Tamariz 2013 20 ). Bees are important pollinators, which gives apiculture outstanding socio-ecological relevance. From pre-colonial times, apiculture developed along with a variety of native and endemic bee species. Since the mid-twentieth century, apiculture in Mexico became an industry beyond traditional usages. The honey production of the Mayan area in the Yucatan Peninsula accounts for 45 per cent of the nation's honey, 90 per cent of which is exported to the EU. The glyphosate used in production of soybean and the pollen of GMO soybeans has a negative effect on the bees and on the production of honey. Moreover, the production of soybeans implied deforestation to give way to monoculture plantations causing biodiversity loss and decrease in the quantity of nectar used by bees to produce honey.

In order to ban transgenic soybean cultivation in Mexico, Mayan beekeepers, honey gatherers and exporters from the Yucatan Peninsula created a political network together with environmental and human-rights organizations, scientific and governmental institutions. The network organized meetings and workshops, exchanged information, experiences and research findings, and shared a common political strategy. Furthermore, some formed an activist organization called Sin Transgénicos and organized protests “Ma OGM” (No-GMO in Maya) attended by 2,000 people in Mayan ceremonial centres. The Mexican Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad supported the cause by sending a petition signed by 660 scientists to SAGARPA and publishing news and opinion-articles on the issue newspapers.

In June 2012, the members of the network applied for an appeal to ban transgenic soy cultivation in Campeche, Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Chiapas. The appeal considers the Constitution of Mexico and several treaties regarding labour rights, Indigenous rights and participation in decision-making such as Convention 169 of the ILO and the Mexican federal GMO Biosafety Law. It denounced SEMARNAT for making the decision without taking into account the opinions of the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the National Institute of Ecology. In April 2014, the Second District Court applied protection standards on the rights of Indigenous peoples taking into account the essential function that beekeeping has to the culture, environment, economy and society of the local communities. Previously, it upheld a separate appeal by two Mayan communities from Municipality Hopelchen Pac-chén and Cancabchén. In November 2015, in response to the network Sin Transgénicos, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that the government must consult Indigenous communities before planting GM soybeans. In September 2017, Mexico's Food and Agricultural Service revoked Monsanto's permit to grow genetically modified soybeans in seven states, including Campeche and Yucatán.p. 402

An important role in this struggle was played by Leydy Pech, who received a Goldman Prize in 2020. 21

Pacto Ribereño ‒ the Riparian Pact against Oil Exploitation in Tabasco 22

In Tabasco we remember one socio-ecological movement in the 1970s. The “Riparian Pact” was established when an environmental problem generated massive political action, with broad peasant and Indigenous participation. With the boom of the oil market in the mid-1970s, the exploitation of crude oil in Mexico became one of the fundamental pillars of the economy as well as in the maintenance of the political system and its state party regime (the PRI), through the control of what would be the largest parastatal company: Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The Pacto Ribereño based their struggle on the social principles of peasant struggle: the right to land and the right to participate in policy decisions that affected their lives, economic development and culture. The economic demands were based on an independent and extensive ecological impact study. At its peak, the movement blocked nearly 300 oil wells in central Tabasco between March and November 1983. There were complaints about water and land contamination, and also against gas flaring.

The Riparian Pact arose in August 1976, when the ejidatarios and small owners of numerous ejidos and municipalities met in general assembly. All of them had been affected by Pemex in the Barra de Tupilco, on the Gulf of Mexico, which caused the salinization of the bar, as also the Guayo, Tular, Cocohital Rivers, and contaminated the lands and freshwater wells. In the next months, more ejidos and rancherías joined, and by November 19 there were 39 rancherías and 19 ejidos more, totalling 7,000 peasants from the municipalities of Reforma, Juárez, Pichucalco, Cárdenas, Huimanguillo and Comalcalco.

The demand of the payment of 4,123 million pesos (about US$ 209 million) for Pemex's damage were calculated by the movement itself. The movement agreed that, if their demands were not met, they would carry out a simultaneous blockade of Pemex's activities in all the oil fields where the members of the Pact lived. Eventually, the complaints got enmeshed into a government ‘paper wall’ of legal procedures, generating dependence and at the same time the hope that the State would solve the problems, as long as loyalty and patience were maintained. A bureaucratic structure of “administration” of social discontent was thus created. Thus, a Commission for the Ruling of Claims of the State of Tabasco (CODIRET) was instituted. Faced with this strategy, in November 1976 the movement blocked several oil fields. Two days later, the government sent 2,000 troops in order to recover the facilities. Peasant leaders were imprisoned and accused of causing damage to the communication routes and large economic losses. At the beginning of 1977, mechanisms were also deployed to divide the movement, making minor payments of compensation selectively.

In May 1977, a reorganization of the movement was achieved and negotiations began, in which the government finally recognized Pemex's abuses. An agreement was signed on October 25th. The peasants were led to sign individual agreements, according to which the claims would be covered in 90 days if they were property other than the land. Otherwise, an expropriation procedure would be made and compensation would be paid. With this, the dispossession of ejido lands was carried out and the payments were not made. In August 1978, the Riparian Pact decided to block the well 83 “El Golpe”, in Comalcalco, for more than seven days. The Mexican government then deployed a strategy of co-optation through one of its strongest arms of the time: the National Peasant Confederation, integrating some leaders into p. 403the apparatus. Thus, in November 1979, the Riparian Pact supported the candidacy of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the municipal presidency of Comalcalco and published a statement repudiating the Communist Party.

However, the payments did not materialize and the environmental damage of the oil industry continued. A document sent by the ejido population of El Carmen to President López Portillo presented the arguments and demands:

Our ejido consisting of 702 hectares has been totally destroyed by said company [PEMEX], locating wells, roads, ditches to put pipes and building buildings of different sizes. The waters […] are currently totally contaminated with layers of oil and residues, and gas flaring goes on day and night. The roofs and walls of our houses, the wire fences of our paddocks and pastures, everything is finished; the cattle die […]. We walk from one place to another letting the different authorities know, both agrarian and from the company Petróleos Mexicanos, so that we are compensated for all the damages they have caused to our interests. The company Petróleos de México is a large company that exploits the oil wealth of our country, but only to benefit certain people, we farmers always receive humiliation and poverty.

In 1983, there were already more than 19,000 lawsuits and payment of compensation started to be made, seven years after the beginning of the movement. It should be noted that, between 1973 and 1992, Tabasco extracted 660,000 barrels per day, generating a revenue of approximately US$ 130 billion. Five decades later, environmental damage in Tabasco continues, and so do some demonstrations and blockades by local populations.

Oaxaca: Windmills 23

There are several communities on the coast of Oaxaca which have been struggling against wind energy. Pablo Neruda talked to the wind one hundred years ago, warning it of what had happened to its friend the water: “Aire no te vendas. No, aire, no te vendas, que no te canalicen, que no te entuben, que no te encajen, ni te compriman, que no te hagan tabletas, que no te metan en una botella, cuidado!” (Air, don’t sell yourself. No, air, don’t get sold, don’t get channelled, don’t get tubed, don’t get compressed, don’t get turned into pills, don’t get bottled, watch out!).

It is rare that local rural communities of shepherds or peasants claim property rights on the wind. Rather, the complaints arise because the land is expropriated or grabbed to build windmills, roads and electricity towers. They have been documented in the EJAtlas and they allowed one pioneering article on worldwide resistance to windmills (Avila 2018). We are in favour of an electricity transition away from fossil fuels but we know there are socio-ecological conflicts against windmills in which to the livelihood argument of loss of access to land another argument is often added: the alleged threat to the life of local birds.

Indigenous communities in Oaxaca have famously and successfully struggled against large-scale private windmills despite the violence against them. Over the last 25 years, Mexico registered a fast development of large-scale wind farms in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the south-west of Oaxaca. This region is considered to have wind power potential capacity of 33,200 MW. The territory comprises traditional lands of the Binnizá and Ikjoots groups (Zapotecos and Huaves in Spanish), most of them organized through communal land regimes and customary law. They are ancestral inhabitants, and their rights were reaffirmed as ejidatarios after Zapata's revolution and its subsequent land reforms. Indigenous communities in p. 404the area heavily depend on traditional livelihoods rooted to the territory, including fishing and farming activities.

The Isthmus is also part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor and one of the largest migratory bird routes. In 2015, the Wind Corridor in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec comprised over 15 private wind power projects, intended to supply electricity to private companies, while some are destined for public distribution in urbanized areas. Opposition started in 1994 and gained force as private projects (often by Spanish firms such as Iberdrola and Gamesa) spread out. Local organizations expanded through several political instances with the contribution of different external actors. They sued over illegal land leasing contracts and environmental impacts on construction and operation phases. Additionally, Indigenous communities made strong complaints against the privatization and dispossession processes over their lands and resources.

In San Dionisio, Juchitán and other places, some projects were stopped after the courts determined that companies must consult communities following ILO 169 Convention standards. Additionally, in February 2015, the District Court in the State of Oaxaca ruled to acquit leader Bettina Cruz Velazquez of charges made against her, after a flawed judicial process in which she was in and out of prison for some years (Figure 18.5).

Bettina Cruz (Robin Canul/Radio ONU).
Figure 18.5

Bettina Cruz jailed because of opposition to corporate windmills in Oaxaca

Source:  Robin Canul/Radio ONU

Hydropower: La Parota in Guerrero, San Juan Tahitic in Puebla and Naranjal in Veracruz

La Parota Dam in Guerrero 24

La Parota hydroelectric project finally was stopped after more than ten years of mobilization and judicial battles, criminalization of opponents and violation of human rights. The dam was p. 405to be 192 m with a capacity of 756 MW. It was to be built on the Papagayo River in Guerrero state, less than 50 km from the Acapulco harbour in the Pacific, at the cost of US$ one billion. It was first introduced in 2003 by the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), and it would have permanently damaged the biodiversity of the area. Local residents, who would have suffered from the flooding and loss of their lands and homes, started a long struggle to defend their territory, organizing protest rallies and roadblocks.

In 2004, affected communities created the Council of Communal Land Owners and Communities against Construction of La Parota Dam (CECOP). They joined forces with MAPDER and held numerous protests and activities, sometimes meeting with violent police repression, which resulted in rights violations and two deaths. The CECOP also started a legal battle. In January 2006, a Mexican court declared that some of the consultation meetings held by the CFE were invalid.

In September 2007, a temporary injunction was ordered by a Mexican federal judge in response to a suit accusing the government and the CFE of illegally granting environmental clearance and a water concession for the dam, along with human rights violations and refusing to conduct an open and transparent approval process. However, the judge lifted her own restraining order against the project in November. Finally, 16 August 2012 saw the end of La Parota Dam with the “Acuerdos de Cacahuatepec” signed in Acapulco between members of CECOP and the Governor of Guerrero, Ángel Aguirre Rivero. The Governor would inform the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, that the local peasants and landowners refuse to sell their lands for building this dam. 25 Perhaps La Parota was only “postponed”. One leader of the farmers’ movement, Marco Antonio Suástegui, was arrested in June 2014. The CECOP released a press note and a letter of support was signed from many groups in and outside Mexico. Suástegui's brother was kidnapped, as he is also a well-known member of CECOP.

Hydropower in Apulco River, Puebla 26

On 13 November 2018, Martín Hernández Alcántara introduced an article in the newspaper La Jornada de Oriente on environmental conflicts: “Nine cases from Puebla are registered in the Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas), which this month counted 2,610 environmental conflicts around the planet”.

I would like indeed to summarize here all these nine conflicts, adding some more, but there is room only for one of them. Since 2013, people of San Juan Tahitic have been resisting extractivist projects, so-called death-projects, proyectos de muerte as they are locally known and also known (second-hand) in the international academic literature (Post 2022). 27 The Indigenous people developed a resistance struggle in defence of their territory that included the expulsion of representatives of the company Gaya, that entered their lands without permission. In May 2016, it was reported that the SEMARNAT rejected the Gaya Hydroelectric Project, which was intended to install a “mini” energy generator on the Apulco River, just 5 km from the community of San Juan Tahitic, in Zacapoaxtla. This was the second time that SEMARNAT, in charge of environmental preservation and regulating the use of natural assets, rejected the project.

On 1 June 2018, Adrian Tihuilit was shot in the head and thrown into one of the ravines off a dirt road that goes from Xilitla to San Juan. It was the second murder of an environmental and human rights activist recorded in 15 days in the north-eastern Sierra of the state of Puebla. Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez, a member of MIOCUP-CNPA, also received threats prior to the discovery of his body, found in a motel in Cuetzalan. Those murders caused consternation p. 406among the residents and those opposing the hydroelectric plant: “They are hunting us. His death shows that they are going against the activists who oppose the proyectos de muerte, the death projects”.

The dam at Naranjal, Veracruz 28

Noé Vázquez Ortiz was killed as he was preparing the opening ceremony of the annual meeting convened by MAPDER, a network of villages, Indigenous communities and environmental justice organizations in defence of rivers formed ten years ago in the area of the Parota dam but drawing on meetings in Guatemala and Honduras. He was brutally tortured and assassinated by four men on 2 August 2013 in Amatlán de los Reyes, state of Veracruz. He was collecting flowers, herbs and seeds in the Cerro de la Cruz for the ritual opening. According to MAPDER, the Ministerio Público de Amatlán (the public prosecutor) refused to accept the denunciation of the murder on the same day and Noé's family was not properly informed by the authorities. The activists also denounced that the security of the event was not guaranteed by the police forces, contrary to what the Governor of Veracruz had promised. There was little doubt that Noé was targeted for his years-long struggle for rivers and local communities and against large dam projects like the Naranjal dam on the Rio Blanco.

Noé was a craftsman, a defender of nature and culture and an active member of Colectivo Defensa Verde Naturaleza para Siempre. In a press release issued after his death, MAPDER explains that hydroelectric dam projects have increased since 2010 in Veracruz. So far, they have tried to install 112 private dams in the state. In Mexico, it's been calculated that between 1936‒2006, 4,200 large dams have come up and displaced 185,000 people. Since 2011, the 370-MW hydroelectric project El Naranjal threatened the territory of Amatlán de los Reyes and seven municipalities, representing nearly 30,000 people. As a result of the protests, there was an atmosphere of intimidation. According to MAPDER national spokesman Cesar Ramirez, the dam construction lobby in the country is extremely strong and includes the CFE and CONAGUA (National Water Commission).

Despite the tragedy, the meeting was held. It had different purposes: from legal assistance and guidelines to discover the new tendencies in dam constructions, small hydropower and its risks. Also, the role of private companies under the discourses of energy self-sufficiency. From those meetings emerged the need to bridge actions not only against the dams, but also the mining industry. The movement strongly questioned the structural reforms in the energy sector and the high electricity prices.

In an interview with Radio Mundo Real, Gustavo Castro explained that the great challenge was now to face private corporations building dams rather than the government. Ten years ago, the World Bank and bilateral banks used to give funds to governments, while now private companies are given the right to generate their own power. This entails privatization of rivers and appropriation of Indigenous land. Moreover, the discourse in defence of dams has changed, in favour of so-called small barrages which supposedly cause no harm to the environment and to communities. Solidarity came from all over the world. As his people say, Noé has not been buried but given back to the land so that he can bloom again and give strength to the struggle. Years later, in the 2020s, the dam has not yet been built.

Gold Mining in Carrizalillo, Guerrero 29

This is one of the most terrible conflicts in the EJAtlas. This community in the state of Guerrero suffers an extremely high degree of violence as a consequence of gold mining, first by the Canadian firm Goldcorp and now by LeaGold Mining with no end in sight.p. 407

The “Los Filos” mining complex includes two open pits (“El Bermejal” and “Los Filos”); the so-called “Nukay Tunnel” of underground extraction, and a leachate yard (400 ha). The project extends over 2690 ha distributed among the communities of Mezcala, Carrizalillo and Xochipala. Carrizalillo's lands are distributed in small properties and in communal ejidos in a zone crossed by the Golden Belt, where foreign and national mining companies prevail. The community has a little more than 1,000 inhabitants who, before the arrival of mining, planted cornfields, produced and sold pumpkin seeds, raised livestock and produced mezcal.

First, Peñoles S.A. reached an agreement for the temporary occupation of the ejido lands, initiating a series of conflicts which persist from 2003 to date. In 2005, the Canadian company Goldcorp purchased the exploration results as well as the subsoil concessions, to start an open-pit mine called Los Filos. However, to begin operations, the company had to renew the agreements with its predecessor for the purchase and rental of land. In 2006, the mining of the El Bermejal pit began and the leachate yards started to be watered with sodium cyanide. The first “doré” bar was produced. In 2007, the conflict between the company and the community of Carrizalillo started. A permanent assembly of ejidatarios, local population and workers demanded an increase in the payment from the company. It was at that moment that they learned that the company had illegally bought the communal lands. The Unitary Agrarian Tribunal issued a ruling obliging the company to return and pay for the damages to the lands, while at the same time opening up a new possibility to ‘improve’ the previous agreement.

The peasant Ejido ordered the company to close down. This lasted for 83 days, during which various situations arose. First, 80 people were violently arrested by the police. A negotiation was opened with the companies to draft a new land lease agreement that increased from 1,250 to 13,500 pesos/ha per year. The lease agreement should also be done only for one year, to allow the community to gain experience and evaluate its annual achievements improving the conditions. Goldcorp's tremendous financial asymmetry with the Ejido was obvious: the company received $999.26 for every thousand dollars of gold sold, and the communities only 74 cents. Subsequently, the part for the villagers rose to $5.87.

However, there was no harmony between the company and the Ejido. A local census showed that the population spent about 27 million pesos because of their deteriorating health, while the company covered only a quarter of that expenditure. After 2010, because of heavy metals, the population showed respiratory diseases, skin diseases, eyes, and ears, cancer, gastrointestinal problems, and the number of pregnant women who had abortions and premature births increased. A census conducted in 2012 found that all families in the community had at least one sick member. Damages were documented with support from the REMA and the Mesoamerican Movement against the Mining Extractive Model (M4).

The Goldcorp Company's ugly reputation extends internationally. Carrizalillo also shows the intersectionality between metal mining and struggles for better public health. Thus, Carrizalillo appeared prominently in the sessions of an international Popular Tribunal for Health in July 2012 in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, where Dr Juan Almendares was active. A ruling was issued against Goldcorp, starting the international campaign “Goldcorp Makes Me Sick” and preparing documentation that would allow the affected people to demand accountability.

Damages include the disappearance of 14 water sources and the contamination of others. In the rainy season, each family spends between 1,000 and 1,500 pesos per month to purchase safe water, which triplicates in the dry season. The main water collection sub-basin of Carrizalillo, which occupies 77 per cent of its territory, has been destroyed. There is a constant growth of the leachate yard. The development of the mining project also caused a total destruction of the landscape. The forest and the hills were replaced by the two pits, each p. 408more than 2.3 km wide and 1 km deep. This implied the destruction of two protected areas: the 118th Priority Land Region, rich in plants of the genus Bursera, and the territory declared as an “Important Area for the Conservation of Migratory Birds”. Areas of tangible historical and archaeological heritage evidence also were destroyed. The company's working conditions are another area of permanent conflict in contrast with the official discourse of a “socially responsible company”. It is alleged that there have been several deaths of mine workers from cyanide poisoning.

Mexico City Conurbation Swallows Up Ejido Lands: Resistance at Xochicuautla 30

I shall consider one of various conflicts that have arisen because of the great expansion of Mexico City. Together with Victoria Ruiz Rincón and Sara Mingorria, we published a comparative article on nine somewhat similar such conflicts recorded in the EJAtlas. Xochicuautla is at the extreme west of the conurbation. To the east, México reaches Puebla, and to the North the discarded airport of Atenco near Lake Texcoco. Between Atenco and Arco Sur lies the city of Mexico; further south Cuernavaca in Morelos with some doubtful “social housing” projects in La Ciénega and Cerro de la Tortuga. To the west, the road Naucalpan to Toluca where there has been resistance by an Otomí community because the four-lane motorway (Naucalpan-Toluca) would cut across their sacred territory and forest. ¡Xochicuautla no se vende, se ama y se defiende! (Ruiz Rincón et al. 2019). The four lanes motorway, with a length of 39 km and a capacity of 30,000 vehicles per day, would cost US$ 370 million.

One day in 2007, while working on his land, Antonio Reyes, a member of the Supreme Indigenous Council of Xochicuautla, noticed a group of workers surveying his crops. When asked why they were there, they told him that Enrique Peña Nieto, then governor of the State of Mexico and later president of the country, had authorized the construction of the Toluca-Naucalpan highway. In this way, the community learned about the project to be built in its territory, and not through free and informed consultation. The Otomí Ñatho Indigenous community was then involved in a legal dispute with the state government for a decade because they were not willing to have “the veins of their Sacred Water Forest” cut off to build a toll road.

The community is still immersed in a legal struggle. In addition, the community has undertaken a dialogue to examine how the project could be developed to affect the ecosystem and cultural dynamics of the region as little as possible. IACHR issued precautionary measures and the Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH) issued a recommendation in 2016 that recognizes the violations committed against their human and Indigenous rights. They insisted on not being an agrarian community, but an Indigenous one. This means that their titles do not come from the land reforms of the twentieth century, but are much older.

According to official data, the construction of the highway will directly destroy 600,000 m2 of the Great Water Forest. The highway plans to pass between the Ciénegas de Chignahuapan and Chimaliapan, two lagoons belonging to the Ciénegas de Lerma, a natural area protected by state, federal and international law, cutting off the passage of hundreds of birds that travel daily between one lagoon and the other. Considered a sacred place by the ñañhú, ñuhú, mazahua and otomí Indigenous peoples.

In 2017, the company Autovan (a subsidiary of the Higa Group) began building the toll road. The absence of consultation led to a protest that the state authorities tried to suppress through threats, harassment and the unjustified detention of 22 people.p. 409

Cemex Burns Municipal Solid Waste as Fuel in Atotonilco de Tula and Huichapan, Hidalgo 31

The company Cemex that we have met already is responsible for cases of heavy pollution in Hidalgo, northeast of Mexico City. In fact, several communities in the states of Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo and the State of Mexico affected by the cement industry are protesting, as the industry is poisoning entire communities across the country: the burning of waste in cement plants is a global issue. It is sometimes “greenwashed”, like in Huichapan with solid waste burned as alternative to fossil fuel.

Hidalgo has an Environmental Protection Law that prohibits both the incineration of rubbish and the transport of waste not produced in the state; however, every day it received 15,000 tons of waste from Mexico City. The shipment to cement kilns was one main “solution” promoted by an agreement signed between CEMEX and the Mexico City government for the treatment of waste from the Mexican capital, following the closure of the Bordo Poniente landfill (the largest in Latin America) in December 2011. The government of Mexico City paid the CEMEX 300 pesos a day for every ton of rubbish transported and burned in its incinerators. Tyres, car batteries, electronic waste, pirate cassettes and disks, plastic, infectious biological waste, heavy metals and pesticides form a cocktail of toxic gases in the incinerators wreaking havoc on people's health.

The inhabitants of Huichapan organized themselves as “Ciudadanos Unidos por el Medio Ambiente” to resist this false solution and to build their own alternatives for waste management. The local community was supported by the Global Alliance for Alternatives to Solid Urban Waste Incineration (GAIA) and state deputy Sandra Ordaz Oliver, President of the Health Commission of the Local Congress. She committed to enforcing the ban on burning solid urban and hazardous waste throughout Hidalgo, as well as promoting a Zero Waste law including sustainable options such as reduction and separation of waste at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

In 2012, GAIA reported that the community of Huichapan achieved the closure by the SEMARNAT of the plant, after six months of peaceful mobilizations and legal actions. Environmentalists warned about the increase in cancer and pulmonary diseases in the community of Maney, as a result of the contamination from the incinerator, and even after it stopped. Biologist Jorge Tadeo Vargas, coordinator of the campaign, along with Mariel Vilella (from GAIA) told the newspaper La Jornada that according to surveys in Huichapan, 30 per cent of its population suffer from respiratory, cardiac, skin and cancer diseases.

***

After the refusal to incinerate urban solid waste in the municipality of Huichapan, the company continued the same practice in the Atotonilco plant in Tula. This time, they were more discreet and tried to hide the evidence. The arrival of the solid waste took place in the early hours of the morning and the employees were forced to keep silent on pain of losing their jobs. In mid-2013, a group of citizens from the community of Boxfi alerted other citizens to the bad smells coming from the factory and the arrival of trucks with waste. These citizens, together with the municipal environmental organizations and again supported by biologist Tadeo Vargas (and GAIA) complained to the authorities. Together with colleagues from the states of Mexico, San Luis Potosi, Puebla and Hidalgo, they created the Front of Communities p. 410Against Incineration. They are opposed to building cement plants, ask for regulation of this industry, based on the knowledge of their negative impacts on communities and demand the non-incineration of waste in cement plants.

Zacatecas: A Mining Frontier from the Sixteenth to the Twenty-first Century

Few states in Mexico have, from my point of view, such an interesting history as Zacatecas, at the border between Mesoamerica (Central America, southern and central Mexico) and northern Mexico. Some of this history, from colonial times, is reflected in the case I include here. As in Potosí one smells capitalist world ecology.

The tailings dam (presa de jales) La Zacatecana: the values of toxic waste 32

There have been numerous conflicting attempts to profit from the toxic mine tailings (mercury, silver, gold) in this dam in the Arroyo de la Plata, downstream of the city of Zacatecas, the ownership and safety of which is in dispute. The Arroyo de la Plata (the Silver Brook) is a stream of heavy metals. This case of La Zacatecana and El Pedernalillo lagoon was described as “the worst ecological tragedy in Mexico” by Buco Lepetic, a UN advisor who spent months studying the pollution in that community. If not the worst, it is one of the longest in time. Below the water lies a lot of mercury, as well as heavy metals such as lead and other waste from silver and gold mining, that have been arriving from the city of Zacatecas via the Arroyo de la Plata since the sixteenth century. In Zacatecas, for centuries, the tailings were dragged by the rainwater and deposited, before the construction of the dam that gave origin to the lagoon, in the basin of the Arroyo de la Plata. The quantity and toxicity of the tailings are a matter of dispute ‒ local ejidatarios suspect that scientific studies are aimed at getting them evicted for the benefit of business interests.

The first form of contamination in La Zacatecana was caused by the dispersion of the residues of colonial mining. The waters and the tailings were dragged into the valley of Guadalupe; they were retained in the dam of what would become the ejido La Zacatecana and in the surrounding lowlands, as this was where the main stream flowed. Contamination originated in the method of obtaining the silver by amalgamation with mercury or quicksilver, and by burning.

The volume of metals deposited in the Zacatecana Dam gave rise to a myth that transcended the borders of the ejido. This myth could be supported by the reality of the Santa Teresa company's exploitation of the tailings a hundred years ago, and more recently by the ORCA mining company's 2005 Bankable Feasibility Study for the Laguna Silver Project. ORCA calculated that exploitation could take place in an average of seven years, and that the volume of mercury, gold and silver would be profitable. The ejidatarios finally rejected the project. Because quicksilver is a heavy mineral, it has been leaching towards the water table.

During the twentieth century, already during the Republican period, the second form of pollution was generated by the mineral residues deposited in the Guadalupe Valley. During the entire century, metallurgical and mining companies were established on the periphery of the dam, the ejido of Zacatecana and Pedernalillo, which were dedicated to the treatment of waste. The metallurgical industries dredged these lands, along with those of the dam, to exploit the gold, silver and mercury they contained. When the process was finished, they left heavy metal residues on the arable land. Finally, the last stage of the contamination in that p. 411territory was the arrival of the black waters coming from the city of Zacatecas through the same stream.

In Zacatecas, two other cases related to this one are “Industrial waste in Nuevo Mercurio” and “Environmental liabilities of Minera San Acacio, Vetagrande”. In addition, other notable mining conflicts are included in the EJAtlas and analyzed by Federico Guzmán in his book: Megaminería y 7 maldades del despojo territorial (“Megamining and 7 evils of territorial dispossession”) (2018).

El Zapotillo and Temaca, Pueblo en Vilo (A Village on the Edge) in Jalisco 33

To the west of Mexico City is Guadalajara, the second largest city in the country, where I have taught and, with Beatriz Rodríguez Labajos, wrote the preface to an excellent book on environmental conflicts in the state of Jalisco (Tetreault et al. 2012). Here, I have selected the very long struggle of the town of Temacapulín against the El Zapotillo dam.

The project consists of the construction of a dam in Cañadas de Obregon for supply of water mainly to Leon and Guadalajara cities. The project is promoted by the CONAGUA and the Comisión Estatal del Agua (CEA). The original project was modified in 2008, doubling its capacity, with a reservoir (911 Hm3, 105 m high curtain) distributing 3.8 m3/seg to Leon, 3.0 m3/seg to Guadalajara and 1.8 m3/seg to Los Altos Region. The expected dam cost was US$ 1300 million, which doesn’t include the pipeline nor the other necessary constructions.

I have visited Temaca several times. It is a case that can be definitively won during the six-year term of President López Obrador, although the cruelty has already been committed for a long time, keeping this town and its migrant “absent children” on edge. Dam projects, often announced a long time in advance, are a type of social torture for local populations because investments stop, outmigration begins. The ecologist and Environment Minister Victor Toledo visited Temacapulín in July 2019, promising that the project would be discarded.

This dam in the Altos de Jalisco would flood the town of Temacapulín, with about one thousand inhabitants, an eighteenth-century basilica and thermal water sources. For 15 years, Temacapulín has been fighting this project promoted by the Mexican government, and the governments of the states of Jalisco and Guanajuato. The El Zapotillo dam is being built under the justification of supplying water to the city of León in Guanajuato, the Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone and the region of Los Altos in the state of Jalisco. The construction company has been, at times, the Spanish FCC. The construction has not stopped despite the Ruling 93/2012 issued by the Second Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, which obliges the authorities and construction companies not to exceed the height of the curtain beyond 80 metres. The case has achieved worldwide fame, and the curtain reached 100 m high.

Rarámuri (Tarahumara) against Deforestation: Isidro Baldenegro's Murder, Chihuahua 34

The Sierra Madre Occidental is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, ranging from snow-covered peaks to four separate canyons, each deeper than the Grand Canyon. In addition to the tropical migratory birds which winter in the region, it is home to 26 endangered species including thick-billed parrots and spotted owls, as well as a number of native fish, reptiles and amphibians. This region is home to the Tarahumara, also called Rarámuri who p. 412to some extent resist resource extraction, violence and corruption. In fact, most of the region's old-growth forests have been logged.

Since 1973, the Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental had registered eleven murders of environmentalists fighting illegal logging in the municipal territory of Guadalupe y Calvo, Southwestern Chihuahua. Isidro Baldenegro got the Goldman Prize in 2005. He was a subsistence farmer and community leader of the Tarahumara people in the Sierra Madre Mountain region. Like his father Julio, he spent much of his life defending forests from logging by talamontes. In 1993, he founded a grassroots EJO called Fuerza Ambiental and was named local secretary of communal property in 1999. In the following years, Isidro organized a march of 70 community members and ejidatarios to the city of Chihuahua to demand the definitive suspension of forest exploitation in Coloradas. On 23 September 2002, Isidro, at the head of the group, took over the offices of the state delegation SEMARNAT for more than 24 hours. He participated in the blockade of a highway in the Tarahumara mountains, which was used by logging trucks to transport felled trees. The following year, a protest headed by the wives of murdered community leaders led to a court ruling banning logging. But his efforts angered the powerful network of state officials, landowners and criminal bosses involved in logging. In 2003, he was imprisoned for 15 months on false charges of arms and drugs possession. His detention triggered widespread international condemnation from groups like Amnesty International, which eventually helped secure his release in 2004. In January 2017, he was murdered at 51 years old, in his uncle's home in the community of Coloradas de la Virgen, as his own father had been in 1986.

An editorial in La Jornada (27 May 2017) titled “Indigenous environmentalists, the most vulnerable”, explains that the extractivist projects causing the death of so many Indigenous activists are not only processes of land grabbing for cattle raising, deforestation, timber extraction and the new wave of big or small mining projects, but also investments by organized groups in illegal cultivation of marihuana and poppy (for heroin), mainly for export. This is a continuation of an old history of exploitation of both “preciosities” and “bulk commodities” at the commodity extraction frontiers.

On 3 May 2019, Otilia Martínez Cruz and her son Gregorio Chaparro were also killed in the community of Coloradas de la Virgen, Chihuahua (Chapter 4). The Sierra Tarahumara has become a grave for environmental defenders. Otilia, 60 years old, was a relative of Julián Carrillo Martínez, who had started a legal case to request the annulment of forest harvesting permits, which the SEMARNAT had granted to mestizo settlers in the Indigenous territory of Baborigame. From 2013 to 2019, at least another ten Indigenous defenders of forests were killed in Baborigame because of their opposition to criminal bands that illegally cut the forests. Killings continue and the population is migrating to other areas.

Cananea and Buenavista del cobre: Grupo México Polluting Sonora 35

To the west of the state of Chihuahua, the conflicts on copper mining considered here took place in Cananea in Sonora, near the border with Arizona. The strike of the Cananea mining company and the 1906 massacre, before the 1910 Revolution, are famous in Mexican history. In recent times, Sonora excelled in mining with the two most important copper mines in Cananea and Nacozari. This has resulted in large environmental liabilities; the San Pedro River is severely contaminated with heavy metals coming from Cananea. Talking about Germán Larrea (main shareholder of Grupo Mexico), Sergio Tolano Lizarraga, general secretary of p. 413the Cananea Miners’ Union, does not mince words: “We are facing a businessman who does not respect the life of the workers, nor the inhabitants of the communities where they exploit the resources. We went on strike because of insecurity and unhealthy conditions. These acid leaks are pure poison. We here in Cananea have a high rate of deaths from cancer”.

The Cananea mine operates in conditions that are leading it “deliberately to collapse”. There is a high risk of workers developing silicosis. In 2007, one of the trade union sections went on strike for violations of the collective bargaining agreement, demanding improvements in health and safety and the restart of the operation of the hospital for the miners. Cananea has a long history of strikes due to labour demands on wage increases and better health and safety conditions. This is to some extent a case of working-class environmentalism. The tensions stem from Grupo Mexico's alleged strategy to improve its overall position at the expense of the workers and the environment.

In June 2010, the police took over the mine and managed to reopen it after a three-year strike. With its reopening, Grupo Mexico promised to invest some US $5 billion and create 6,000 jobs. Paisajes Mineros (UNAM, Morelia) writes: “In June 2013, the mining union said that none of the promises made by the company to re-open the mine were fulfilled, which is why the problems have only grown. Grupo Mexico […] refuses to invest in the health and welfare of their workers and city dwellers”.

***

In Cananea, one of the mines belonging to Grupo México is Buenavista del Cobre. In 2014, Grupo México caused a great ecological disaster, and allegedly failed to fulfil its obligations to the victims. This disaster took place in the Bacanuchi and Sonora Rivers, where 40,000 cubic metres of acidified copper sulphate (sulfuric acid) leachates were dumped into the Tinajas stream. The Buenavista del Cobre mining company was responsible for the accident. Two years later, lawyer Luis Miguel Cano of the PODER association reported that “the cleaning of the river, the installation of water treatment plants with the technology to filter heavy metals, the construction of a clinic to attend to the affected people had not been carried out; however, they have not been sanctioned and no one was judged through criminal or administrative channels”.

Compensation was established. Following evaluations by PROFEPA and the 50 irregularities found at the mine, Grupo Mexico paid a fine of Ps.23.5 million (US $1.5 million) and a trust fund of Ps.2 billion (US $125 million) to attend to environmental and social issues in the area. Three years later, in 2017, an appeal was won against the company. A ruling by the First District Court of the State of Sonora recognizes that at least the wells of Sinoquipe and La Labor present arsenic and manganese contamination at levels higher than those established in the WHO's guidelines for drinking water quality. “This ruling demolishes the official discourse of the government and Grupo Mexico, which caused the spill, according to which there is no longer contamination in the Sonora River”, stated the Sonora River Basin Committee (CCRS). For this reason, the CCRS, accompanied by the Project on Organization, Development, Education and Research (PODER), filed a lawsuit for protection against the Institute of Security and Social Services of the Workers of the State of Sonora, the Secretary (ministry) of Health and the Mexican Institute of Social Security. The lawsuit points out that, in the scenario of uncertainty generated by the verification of contamination in wells, it is urgent to have a diagnosis of the populations’ state of health to confirm whether they suffer or are going to suffer from any exposure or intoxication by heavy metals.p. 414

The 2014 spill directly affected 22,000 people and indirectly affected another 250,000 in seven municipalities along the Sonora River, the CCRS said. A report in Forbes on 27 July 2017 echoes a UN group investigation corroborating the events:

After three years, no one has been charged. The UN Working Group said that the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection filed a criminal complaint, but Mexico's Attorney General's Office has not followed it up. The spill has been the subject of social protests and attempts in the Mexican Congress to rein in the mining industry. It is not the first major disaster involving Grupo Mexico. A month after the spill […] the company said it “regretted” the tragedy. At the time of the spill, Buenavista del Cobre was in the midst of a $3.4 billion expansion project. […] With a net worth that Forbes estimates at $14.6 billion, German Larrea is Mexico's second richest person.

Grupo Mexico is the third largest copper producer in the world with large investments in Mexico, Peru, Arizona and Texas. It is impossible to mention it and not remember its current involvement with the Tia Maria project in Arequipa that has caused several deaths of environmental defenders.

Alamos Gold in Mexico, Turkey and Canada 36

Similar international reach applies, at a smaller scale, to the Canadian company Alamos Gold that operates or attempts to operate some very controversial gold mines in Mexico (Sonora and Morelos), and is also involved in a conspicuous conflict in Turkey. I wrote an article on the Los Alamos Gold company (for La Jornada de Oriente 37 ) which I reproduce here in English. We had hoped to form an environmental movement reaching two distant countries (Mexico and Turkey), focusing also on Canada. We failed.

In Mexico

Alamos Gold has two mines in Mexico's Sonora region: El Chanate (very close to the US border) and Mulatos (in Sahuaripa, east of Hermosillo). El Chanate suffered a major cyanide spill in 2016 and Mulatos suffered a landslide in December 2018 in which some workers died. The landslide had been predicted since 2014. There was even a complaint to the National Commission on Human Rights for insufficient action to prevent it. Such accidents become the rule rather than the exception.

In Miacatlán, Morelos, there has been an ongoing fight against the company Alamos Gold in defence of the territory and the archaeology of Xochicalco, a pre-Hispanic monument. While the claims in Sonora are focused on the reparation and compensation for the damages already caused to workers and the environment, people in Morelos are preventively fighting against new mining activities. In August 2016, a meeting of the Morelense Movement against open cast mining was followed by a march. Banners included slogans such as: “We want beans, we want corn, we want the mining company out of the country” (Queremos frijoles, queremos maíz, queremos la minera fuera del país).

Two years after, once López Obrador became president, the members of the Morelense Movement against the Open Pit Mining Concessions initiated another protest under the name “Life and the Defence of the Territory”. The campaigners demanded elected authorities to cancel mining concessions. This petition against Alamos Gold is ongoing.p. 415

Alamos Gold in Turkey: Mount Ida

In 2019, the already famous case of Alamos Gold in Turkey took another dimension: it proceeded with planning activities of open-pit gold mining projects using cyanide on Mount Ida. The struggle against mining projects in this area has been going on for over ten years and local opposition managed to stop the project in 2013. The attempt to reopen triggered the mobilization of 10,000 people, uniting environmentalists, local and rural people and supporters of the opposition to Erdogan.

Cutting down many trees in Mount Ida to prepare the ground prompted the outbreak of protests. In protest, environmental activists set up a camp and tens of thousands of people marched through the mountain. This environmental protest in western Turkey shook the country's politics, with strong accusations against the government allowing damage to nature for a foreign company to profit.

The Kirazli mine, in the western Turkish province of Çanakkale, south of the Dardanelles, had been acquired by the Canadian company in 2010 for around $90 million. Çanakkale includes the peninsula called Gallipoli (in European languages), the site of a battle in World War I in the attempt by the Allied powers to weaken the Ottoman empire. Çanakkale and Gallipoli are names that imply a call for resistance, this time against a foreign company and without weapons of war.

Aside from the excessive logging, environmental activists also denounce that the company will use cyanide to leach gold. The mine is close to the Kazdagi National Park, a wooded area that includes Mount Ida, 1,774 m high, with rivers and water reserves which could be affected. The mayor of the provincial capital of Çanakkale, Ülgür Gökhan, who belongs to the Social Democratic Party opposing Erdogan, criticizes the mining concession, while the mayor of Istanbul, also in opposition, met with the Canadian ambassador to discuss the case, thereby displeasing the Erdogan government.

It is not only in Turkey and in Mexico where the pressure of public opinion should force Alamos Gold into a corner. The Canadian public should be more aware of what Canadian mining companies do abroad. If a triangular movement could arise between activists in Turkey, Mexico and Canada, the respective governments could take action more easily. Appeal could be made to Canadian EJOs concerned with the behaviour of Canadian mining firms abroad. The Minister for the Environment in Mexico, the brilliant ethno-ecologist and political ecologist Victor Toledo, resigned on 6 August 2020, after only one year as minister and he could do nothing to stop Alamos Gold concessions in Mexico which would have become big news in Turkey. The international campaign against Alamos Gold has not yet taken place.

CONCLUSION: ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENDERS FORM NETWORKS, BUT THEY ARE SUBJECT TO EXTREME VIOLENCE

The different conflicts we have summarized and briefly analyzed have much in common. The environmentalists are most often Indigenous peoples, peasants, villagers and citizens, sometimes industrial workers, medical doctors and scientists. Conflicts often involve peasant communities which sometimes are also Indigenous communities. The cases in Panama (mining and hydropower) involve Indigenous groups like the Ngäbe-Buglé, a pattern repeated time and again. Sometimes the main social actors are Afro-American maroons. Maya resistance in p. 416Guatemala and Southern Mexico in defence of their own land and water has been strong. The Huichol and the Wirikuta conflict appear in another chapter.

Central America and Mexico are a region of strong open violence against women and men environmental defenders. There have been some mass killings (as in Chichoy, Guatemala) but also dozens of individual assassinations of environmental defenders (Mariano Abarca in Chiapas, Noé Vásquez Ortiz in the hydropower plant “El Naranjal” in Veracruz, and so many others). Even recipients of the Goldman Prize, that one would expect to be protected by international fame, have been victimized such as the Rarámuri Isidro Baldenegro. Other famous victims appear in other chapters, like Betty Cariño and the Lenca leader Berta Cáceres. There are also more subtle forms of violence: like racism, internal colonialism, and also the “slow murder” of toxic products like heavy metals from mining waste, pesticides or mining and industrial pollution.

Sometimes, the conflicts end, provisionally, in international tribunals or in arbitration courts such as ICSID, as the crucial cases of Crucitas from Costa Rica and Pacific Rim from El Salvador. This is a World Bank tribunal, but civil-society international tribunals appear in this chapter, such as a Water Tribunal or a Health Tribunal. Networks of the environmentalism of the poor and the Indigenous appear in Mexico and Central America such as MAPDER and REMA, and the Movement 4M, active in water conflicts and in mining conflicts across the Mesoamerican region. Zapata fought already in 1910 for rights on water and land against the sugarcane factories at the time of Porfirio Diaz.

There are many mining conflicts involving famous Canadian and US companies but also the Mexicans Germán Larrea and Carlos Slim. Sometimes such conflicts are transnational (as between Guatemala and El Salvador). Apart from mining and hydropower, there are conflicts on biodiversity conservation and the use of biomass: against sugarcane and oil palm plantations, deforestation, for coastal protection, or against glyphosate that threatens the cultural bonds between Mayas and Melipona bees. There are also strong urban or semi-urban movements, for instance against burning of domestic waste or tyres in cement factories. Or defending peasant-Indigenous ejidos against the growth of the conurbation of Mexico City. There is at least one case (Vieques, Puerto Rico) of a rotund victory against military installations. And cases of resistance against new Chinese investments ‒ such as the unrealistic Nicaragua transoceanic canal. Spanish companies appear in conflicts on wind energy in Oaxaca and in some dams (like El Zapotillo in Jalisco). It would have been easy to add more conflicts on gas fracking (as we saw in Cohauila in Chapter 16).

Mexican contemporary environmentalism was born from ethno-ecology as a scientific-practical discipline but also from the grassroots Pacto Ribereño against damage from the oil industry in Tabasco in 1976, from the resistance against nuclear energy in Patzcuaro and Laguna Verde, and against eucalyptus plantations (Paré, 1992), and from the defence of communal forests against talamontes. Some of these are included here. The fight against imports of transgenic maize is well known. In Mesoamerica, community bonds between people and the maize they cultivate have been particularly strong.

There is more communal and ejidal land in Mexico and in Andean America (because of land reforms in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador) than in many other regions of the world. The “commons” is nothing new. In Mexico, because of Zapata´s agrarian revolution of 1910 plus Lázaro Cárdenas’ legislation in the 1930s, a great part of the agriculture, forest and pasture lands is in communal property, not in private property. The name “ejido” is Spanish but ejidos gain their strength from Indigenous identities. The fights of the ejidatarios against p. 417land grabbing belong to the practice and vocabulary of the Mexican environmental justice movement. And also against water grabbing in rural and urban contexts: no hay sequía, hay saqueo. In other words: Tierra, Agua y Libertad.

Livelihood and health; sacredness of rivers, lakes, forests; communal Indigenous or peasant property rights; ecological worth of agricultural or “wild” biodiversity, such are the non-chrematistic values often deployed in the struggle against the growth in the social metabolism of industrial capitalism. Among the values deployed is also the pride in ancient history. Consider, for instance, Xochicalco in Morelos threatened by Alamos Gold. This was a political, religious and commercial fortress from the period of 650–900 that followed the break-up of the Mesoamerican states such as Teotihuacan, Monte Albán, Palenque and Tikal. In Mesoamerica, archaeological, historical, cultural values are among the most powerful among those displayed by local environmental activists in valuation contests.

Central America, the Caribbean islands and Mexico is a region of many old and new environmental conflicts. It is a frontier of extraction. Mexico is a country exploited by foreigners since the time of Zacatecas’ silver in the sixteenth century, but it is also the country where the notion of “internal colonialism” was invented by Pablo González Casanova. It is a country of internationally famous authors in political ecology like Enrique Leff and Victor Toledo, and also a country with a “fake” Green Party, a sad though small political phenomenon unmentioned in this chapter.

I could have included Laguna del Tigre in Guatemala (and oil extraction), the fight on the airport of Atenco, pollution in El Salto in Jalisco and the Atoyac River in Puebla-Tlaxcala (an “environmental hell”), air pollution in the city of Mexico, the new project of the Maya Train in Mexico. These and many other cases are in the EJAtlas.

Notes

1

This chapter has profited from the issue no. 60 of the journal Ecologia Politica in 2020 with the title “Decolonial ecology of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean” edited by Aida Luz López, Sofía Ávila and Catalina Toro.

2

Gordon, T. and Webber, J.R. (2014). Minería Canadiense y resistencia popular en Honduras, Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero, 16 January.

Valle de Siria, Honduras (P. Chávez & Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

3

Crucitas, Costa Rica (P. Chávez & Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Mowforth, M. (2015). Las Crucitas mine, Costa Rica ‒ the violence of development, Pluto Press, 4 January.

4

Pacific Rim at El Dorado mine, El Salvador (Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Transnational Institute ‒ TNI, and Patricio Chavez & Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

5

Oceana Gold, Cierre del proyecto El Dorado, El Salvador. A communiqué from the company.

6

Ngöbe-Buglé against Copper Mining (Panama) (Patricio Chávez), EJAtlas.

7

Kuna Yala´s climate change refugees, Panamá (Grettel Navas), EJAtlas.

8

Chixoy Dam and Rio Negro massacre, Guatemala (Lucie Greyl), EJAtlas.

Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Xalalá, Guatemala (Grettel Navas), EJAtlas.

9

Fenix, El Estor, Lake Izabal, Guatemala (P. Chávez, Irene Pietropauli and Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

The Goldman Environmental Prize, Rodrigo Tot, 2017 Goldman Prize Recipient.

10

Sugarcane cultivation and oil palm plantation in Polochic valley, Guatemala (Sara Mingorría), EJAtlas.

11

Interoceanic Grand Canal project, Nicaragua (Fundación Neotrópica), EJAtlas.

12

Bauxite mining in Cockpit Country, Jamaica (Grettel Navas), EJAtlas.p. 418

13

Crisis ambiental en la Bahía de Cienfuegos, Cuba (Christian Marrugo), EJAtlas.

14

Cementera en Los Haitises, República Dominicana (P. Chávez & Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Waste Tire Burning for Energy Production in Cemex Plant, Ponce, Puerto Rico (Edgardo G. Nieves Duprey), EJAtlas.

15

Vieques Navy Military Pollution, Puerto Rico (Kathleen de Onis), EJAtlas.

16

Martinez-Alier, J. (2013) En el Usumacinta, La Jornada, 3 November.

17

Chicomuselo contra Blackfire, Chiapas (P. Chávez and Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Peña, C. (2019). Mining, murder and Canadian impunity in Mexico, NowToronto, 3 September.

18

Gayou Soto, S. (2019). Atlas de Justicia Ambiental registra cinco casos en la península, La Jornada Maya, 5 June.

19

Mayan beekeepers against Monsanto transgenic soya, Campeche, Mexico (Jovanka Spiric), EJAtlas.

20

Tamariz, G. (2013). GM crops vs. Apiculture. An ecological distribution conflict in the Mayan region of Mexico, Doctoral dissertation, Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals, Autonomous University of Barcelona.

21

The Goldman Environmental Prize, Leydy Pech, 2020 Goldman Prize Winner.

22

El Pacto Ribereño en contra de la explotación petrolera en Tabasco, Mexico (Aida Luz López), EJAtlas.

23

Deutsche Welle (2020). Fuerza Latina ‒ Bettina Cruz: los derechos sobre el viento, 7 April.

Mareña Renovables in San Dionisio del Mar, Oaxaca, México (Sofia Avila), EJAtlas.

24

La Parota Dam, Mexico (Lucie Greyl and Daniela Del Bene), EJAtlas.

25

Sipaz Blog, (2012). Guerrero: Gobernador Aguirre Rivero no apoyará construcción de La Parota, 22 August.

26

Hidroelectrica Gaya en el rio Apulco, Puebla, México (Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

27

The vocabulary of the environmental justice movement (such as proyectos de muerte) is born in grassroots struggles and then sometimes adopted academically, as in this instance.

28

Hidroeléctrica El Naranjal, Veracruz, Mexico (Joan Martinez-Alier and Daniela Del Bene), EJAtlas.

Radio Mundo Real (2013). Luchador contra las represas es asesinado en el inicio del X Encuentro Nacional del MAPDER, 2 August.

29

Mina Los Filos ‒ El Bermejal, Carrizalillo, Guerrero, Mexico (REMA, Yannick Denieau), EJAtlas.

30

Xochicuautla, Comunidad Otomi, Mexico (Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

31

Huichapan, waste incineration in Cemex factory, Hidalgo (Jorge Tadeo Vargas, Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

32

La Zacatecana dam: the value of mine tailings, Mexico, EJAtlas.

33

Presa de El Zapotillo, Jalisco, Mexico (Heliodoro Ochoa and Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

34

Rarámuri (Tarahumara) fight against deforestation, and Isidro Baldenegro's murder, Chihuahua, Mexico, EJAtlas.

La Jornada (2017). Indígenas ambientalistas, los más vulnerables, 27 May.

35

Cananea mine, Mexico (Patricio Chávez and Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Toxic spill from mining company belonging to Grupo México, Sonora, Mexico, EJAtlas.

Sol Pérez J. (2020). Grupo México: Epítome de la deshumanización y la barbarie del extractivismo, Ecologia Politica, no. 60.

36

Alamos gold mining company in the “Sonora cluster”, Mexico (Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Alamos gold mining company in Miacatlan/Xochicalco, Morelos, Mexico (Joan Martinez-Alier), EJAtlas.

Ida Mountain (Kazdagi) prospecting for gold, Turkey (Duygu Avci, Alper Akyuz, Begum Ozkaynak, Cem İskender Aydın), EJAtlas.

37

Martinez-Alier, J. (2019). México y Turquía, la misma compañía, La Jornada, 19 August.

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