PBI-Mexico accompanied People’s Front and Otomi peoples protest PIM “death project” in defence of the Cuautla River
Photo by La Jornada.
On January 10, La Jornada reported that the People’s Front in Defence of the Land and Water of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala (FPDTA-MPT) along with Indigenous Otomi peoples held a rally against the construction of a thermoelectric plant In Huexca.
Huexca is a small Indigenous community near the Cuautla River situated within the rural municipality of Yecapixtla in the central Mexican state of Morelos.
The rally was held outside the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), the state-owned electric utility building the thermoelectric plant.
The plant is part of the Morelos Integral Project (PIM) that also consists of a 171-kilometre gas pipeline that would cross the states of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala and a 12-kilometre aqueduct that would divert water from the Cuautla River.
The water from the river would reportedly be used to cool the turbines of the thermoelectric plant which could be operational by December 2021.
The 40-minute protest linked their shared opposition to megaprojects like the PIM and the Mayan Train (a tourist train now being constructed without consent through Indigenous territories), to demand the return of the 43 students from a politically radical, poor, mostly Indigenous teachers’ college who were disappeared in 2014, and to demand justice in the murder of Indigenous Nahuatl land defender Samir Flores Soberanes.
Flores, a member of the FPDTA-MPT and a vocal opponent of the PIM, was killed on February 20, 2019 in the town of Amilcingo in Morelos. The FPDTA-MPT described his murder as “a political crime for the human rights defence that Samir and the FPDTA carried out against the [project] and for people’s autonomy and self-determination.”
The La Jornada article quotes Teresa Castellanos, the coordinator of the Huexca Resistance Committee, who says: “[We oppose the PIM] because in Morelos there is not enough water for this megaproject, since the Cuautla River and its tributaries barely supply the 32 ejidos and 12 properties that make up the Association of Users of the Cuautla River that has been granted since 1926.”
Ejidos refer to communally held plots of farmland granted to poor often Indigenous farmers following the Mexican Revolution (that lasted roughly from 1910 to 1920).
Castellanos adds: “I hope that [Mexican] president (Andrés Manuel López Obrador) will reconsider and not continue to impose this death project that will end the water of Morelos and the peasant life of all.”
The FPDTA-MPT has also stated: “Lopez Obrador [supporting the PIM] betrays the peasant and the promise of change of his government, to favour transnational corporations [including] Canadian miners like Alamos Gold, among others.”
Last year, Toronto-based Alamos Gold reactivated work on their Esperanza open-pit gold mine near the community of Tetlama (about 60 kilometres due west of Huexca). Mines can be energy-intensive and could use electricity generated by the plant.
El Sol de Cuautla further reports: “In addition to the [protest held on January 9], opposition to the PIM plans a new mobilization for January 17; a caravan that will depart from Huexca and arrive in Tenextepango, in the municipality of Ayala.”