n the first few months of the administration of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, the human rights thermometer is burning red. Migrants, indigenous communities, women, social activists, journalists and many others confront mounting threats.
The wealth of Mexican businessmen who top the millionaires list of Forbes Magazine is based “on the theft of the nation’s commons” says Francisco Lopez Barcenas, author of the book on mining legislation in Mexico, “Mineral or Life”.
They set out on February 25, from different parts of a country torn apart. In silent defiance, they entered the capital city of Tegucigalpa on March 6. On International Women’s Day they made their demands of a government that has trampled their rights and brought bloodshed across the nation since the rule of law was shattered three and half years ago.
The real strength of the villages that are fighting against expropriation of their lands for expansion of wind farms in Oaxaca lies in their traditional system of community assemblies. The assembly decided to reject the Mareña Renovables project and a proposed government consultation on it for failing to respect their rights as indigenous peoples.
Idle No More (INM), started in late 2012 as an aboriginal movement to block regressive legislation threatening indigenous, territorial and treaty claims in Canada, has quickly become a worldwide vehicle for indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental complaints. By early 2013 It has attracted significant attention from Latin American quarters.
It was 35 years ago when Amexco S.A. de C.V. began its infamous illegal dumping of lead-contaminated residues in Tijuana – 30,000 m3 of slag imported from California under what the Mexican government deemed the false pretext of car-battery recycling. By the time Mexico’s federal environmental prosecutor analyzed remediation options in 1996, the U.S. corporation Alco Pacifico Inc. had acquired the liability. Mexican law mandated the return of the hazardous waste to its country of origin.
The three most threatened human rights on the planet today are the right to water, the right to a healthy environment, and the right to food. In Chihuahua these are ever-growing threats that have claimed two victims already. Ismael Osorio and Manuelita Solis, his wife, were murdered near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc on Oct. 23 while they defended these rights.
Juventina Villa knew her days were numbered. A leader of an environmental organization in the mountains of Guerrero, Mexico, she and other activists have been in the crosshairs of organized crime and government forces for years. With the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence come to an end on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, organizations of women throughout the world are calling for more protection for women human rights defenders and justice for those who have been assassinated. In most cases, the crimes against them have not been punished.
Monsanto’s bitter seeds have given another blow to the Mexican honeycreepers that had previously succeeded in stopping short the transnational corporation’s plan to plant 253,000 acres of transgenic soybeans in the Yucatan Peninsula that would have jeopardized beekeeping in the region, the main livelihood more than 25,000 families.
In an era of food crisis, the fight for corn has intensified, and the importance of this grain – a staple of the diet of Mexico and a large part of the world – has been revealed to the fullest extent. The scenario we are faced with is a battle between a culture that revolves around the material and symbolic production of corn, as well as the cultural, social, and historical value placed upon this crop by humankind, and the network of commercial and political interests that sees this prodigious crop simply as another way to increase power and profit by means of plundering its native lands.