Tuesday, February 23, 2010

México: Violent evictions in Chiapas for establishing oil palm monocultures

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from World Rainforest Movement Bulletin, February 2010, www.wrm.org.uy

México: Violent evictions in Chiapas for establishing oil palm monocultures

What follows is a communiqué from the Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) reporting on the violent situation that local communities and Indigenous Peoples of the Lacandona forest in Chiapas are presently going through.

"Appeal to international solidarity to protect the Lacandona Forest in Chiapas (Mexico), February 2010.

The Latin American Network against Monoculture Tree Plantations (RECOMA) is hereby denouncing the arbitrary treatment suffered by various communities in the Lacandona forest, in the area declared as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, in the State of Chiapas, Mexico.

Last January, the Chiapas State Congress approved funding for the construction of a palm oil processing plant. Shortly afterwards, dozens of families from the Municipality of Ocosingo were evicted from their territory, in order to give way for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations.

Dozens of heavily armed police arrived in helicopters and with aggressive violence evicted men, women and children from their homes, which they then burnt down and with no explanation, removed the community to the city of Palenque.

While the government talks about conservation and protection of the zone, it evicts those who have been truly responsible for making this conservation possible. At the same time, it replaces local ecosystems by oil palm monocultures.

Oil palm plantations are being promoted under an "ecological" mask, as if the production of agrofuels based on palm oil could be a solution to climate change. Apart from the falsehood of these affirmations, no mention is made of the serious negative impacts they generate such as violation of the local population and indigenous peoples' human rights, as is presently the case in Chiapas.

Furthermore, monoculture oil palm plantations are one of the main causes of deforestation and therefore contribute to worsen climate change through the release of carbon stored in the forests, destroying the means of subsistence and food sovereignty of millions of small farmers, indigenous people and other communities, and generating serious negative environmental impacts. The plantations require agrochemicals that poison the workers and local communities and contaminate soil and water. Monoculture oil palm plantations eliminate biodiversity and deplete fresh water sources.

In sum, monoculture plantations for the production of paper and agrofuels (such as in the case of oil palm) worsen the living conditions and opportunities for survival of the local population and are only beneficial to a small handful of companies that become rich at the expense of social and environmental destruction.

For this reason, we are appealing to the international community to condemn the plans for the expansion of monoculture oil palm plantations in Mexico, denouncing this situation by all means at your disposal. We also appeal to you to join and participate actively in the forthcoming Montes Azules Social Forum, in defence of the right to life and to the territory (http://www.wrm.org.uy/paises/Mexico/ForoMontesAzules.jpg), to be held on 5 and 6 March in the Ejido Candelaria, Municipio de Ocosingo, Chiapas, in the heart of the Montes Azules".

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