Indigenous Community in Chiapas
At the request of the community assembly of Amador Hernández in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, Grassroots International along with the Global Justice Ecology Project, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Carbon Trade Watch, the Global Forest Coalition, the Timberwatch Coalition, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project are circulating a communiqué and sign-on letter (posted below) that were written by the assembly concerning the impact they are experiencing from the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) carbon credit plan.
We hope you will respond by signing on to the action after the communiqué below, to ask that medical services and the human right to health be restored to this community, and that threats to their territorial sovereignty cease without delay.
Communiqué from Amador Hernández, Chiapas: (sign on letter follows)
We, the residents of the Amador Hernández region in Chiapas, which forms the core of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, well-known for its extraordinary biological richness, and is the site of historic resistance by indigenous peoples, denounce that the illegal threats by the bad government to expel us, culturally and physically, from our territories, have moved from words to deeds.
Our opposition to the theft of our territory, as decreed in May 2007; our rejection of the unilateral delimiting of the agrarian border of the Lacandona Community demanded by investors in projects associated with the REDD+ Project; our refusal to accept the conservationist programs of “payment for environmental services” and “productive land reconversion,” and our decision to reinitiate a process of self-determined community health based in our traditional medicine, together have aroused the arrogance of the bad government, motivating them to advance a “new” counterinsurgency strategy to undermine our resistance.
It is a strategy that doles out sickness and death, dose by dose.
The strategy has consisted in an “administrative” withdrawal of health and medical services to our communities. It began in March 2010, with the suspension of aerial evacuations that had been offered to transport our gravely ill (where we live there are no roads). Also beginning last March, the only medical personnel we have seen are medical solidarity brigades. Shipments of medical supplies have been drastically reduced, and halted altogether since last November, and much of the medicine we have left is now expired. Since last September we have received no vaccines and no insulin. And, as if it were a message, during this entire period the only pharmaceuticals they have continued to send, and which now fill the shelves of our abandoned health clinics, are birth control medications.
We have sent letters and more letters to the supervisor of Health District IX, in Ocosingo, asking that medical services be restored. We have received no answer.
The deaths of children and old people in hospitals where the majority arrive only to die, began in May. If it had not been for the reaction of our communities, who organized to buy the most urgently needed medicines, for the support of our traditional remedies, and for the solidarity of medics and healthworkers from civil society, today the region of Amador Hernández would be suffering hundreds of grave illnesses and dozens of deaths – a scenario which, in the calculus of the bad government, would have forced us to surrender control over our territory and to renounce the self-development of our traditional community healthcare programs.
One more thing: the confrontation. This past month of February, the governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines, traveled to the Lacandóna Community to make the first payments of the state-run REDD+ program; as he doled out the money, he told the beneficiaries that it should not be considered as a gift, but as a payment to guard the border against their neighbors – that is, us.
As the fields we cultivate are precisely on the border with this Community, and planting season has begun, we fear that these new community guardians might take advantage of the situation to provoke a confrontation which will, in turn, justify the intervention of pubic security forces and the installation of military encampments, as occurred in 1999.
This would facilitate the completion of the delimiting of the Reserve, which is a condition for accessing transnational REDD+ funds. For its part, the Mexican government would thus obtain tactical positions from which to exert pressure, monitoring, and destabilization of our territory, as it tried to do in 1999.
The war of power continues. For the indigenous peoples, who have freely and bravely decided to walk our own destiny on a different path from that of the political regime and the economic system that turns everything into merchandise and thievery, the bad government sends illness and slow death, and projects that fortify intercommunity conflicts, paid for now by the resources associated with REDD+. And all in the name of service to humanity.
No to the demarcating of the Lacandon Border that robs us of our land! No to the commodification of our Mother Earth! Yes to the right to health, and to life, and to our indigenous culture!
Sign-On Letter to High-ranking Officials of the Mexican Federal Government and the Government of Chiapas:
This letter is collectively addressed to the three Federal and three State authorities mentioned in the text of the action alert. The denounced actions demonstrate, by omission or commission, and in greater or lesser degree, the probable implication and coordination of each and every one of these government agencies in conceiving, designing, implementing or tolerating the actions and aggressions addressed here.
Of the federal and state public health officials, WE ASK:
- That you reestablish the withdrawn health services, under the terms and conditions set by the affected communities, acting within their rights granted by the law, in order to prevent further aggressions;
- That you make public the legal reasoning behind this inhumane affront;
- That you sanction those responsible, and those complicit.
Of the Secretary of Agrarian Reform, WE ASK:
- That you order a halt to the delimiting of the Lacandon Community Zone (la brecha lacandona), until you have the consent of all of the neighboring communities that will be affected, and thus avoid conflicts between our communities;
- That you cease sending your employees to the region of Amador Hernández to use lies to attempt to convince people to participate in the FANAR Program (previously known as PROCEDE).
Of the Governor of Chiapas WE ASK:
- That you suspend the state REDD+ Project in the Lacandon Community Zone, as it constitutes a counterinsurgency plan that promotes conflicts between neighboring communities;
- That you stop lying to the indigenous peoples regarding the climate-related objectives of the REDD+ Project in Chiapas, and declare its true purpose: to conserve and recuperate biodiversity in the areas of greatest biological wealth in order to turn it over to the control and exploitation of transnational interests.
Of the officials of the Interior Ministries, both Federal and State, WE ASK:
- That you prevent any attacks, threats, or unconstitutional actions that could be directed in any way toward people or civil society groups who, through their work of solidarity, support the promotion of health in the communities of the region of Amador Hernández.
THE HUMAN COMMUNITY NEITHER SUPPORTS NOR ACCEPTS THAT THE FRUITS OF THE EARTH BE GIVEN TO SOME AT THE COST OF THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS.
To sign alert, send name, organization (if any), country and email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more background on community resistance to REDD in Chiapas, click here.
For information on what REDD is, click here.