Indigenous land defenders in Mexico seek to connect with the Wet’suwet’en in shared opposition to TC Energy pipelines
Photo: In January 2020, Indigenous Otomi peoples in the town of San Pablito called for the TC Energy Tuxpan-Tula pipeline to be cancelled because it would cross the sacred hills of the Pahuatlán region in the state of Puebla.
Calgary-based TC Energy is both the largest foreign investor in Mexico and the company building the Coastal GasLink pipeline on Wet’suwet’en territory in Canada.
TC Energy currently owns five pipelines in Mexico, including in the mountainous Sierra Tarahumara region of Chihuahua.
Researcher Martha Pskowski has noted that the murders of Rarámuri land defenders, including Julián Carrillo, discouraged some Rarámuri from speaking out when the company started building a gas pipeline through the area.
On December 1, Natural Gas Intelligence reported the company is looking at in-corridor expansions and expanding its existing pipelines in Mexico.
The company is also looking at a $4 billion-plus capital investment in an offshore gas pipeline that would start in Tuxpan in the state of Veracruz and run to Yucatán that would be developed with the state power utility Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).
The pipeline would “essentially function as an extension of the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan system” that currently supplies 15 per cent of Mexico’s gas imports.
The article also notes that TC Energy “is working to have [the] Villa de Reyes [pipeline] fully in-service by mid-2022”. Educa Oaxaca has previously noted that construction on this pipeline had been suspended due to Indigenous resistance.
The Tuxpan-Tula gas pipeline
The Natural Gas Intelligence article also reported that TC Energy plans to complete its Tuxpan-Tula project, a 287-kilometre gas pipeline from Tuxpan, Veracruz through the states of Puebla and Hidalgo.
Several months prior to this in August 2021, Reuters reported on a new pact between TC Energy and the state power utility CFE that “says Mexico will step up efforts to help TC Energy complete the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline after work stalled over concerns the project would cut across lands local communities consider sacred.”
Just weeks prior to this pact, Mary Ng, the Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, met with the Mexican Secretary of Economy and TC Energy’s Senior Vice President of Pipelines in Mexico and President of TC Energía at the TC Energy office in Mexico City.
Indigenous opposition to the TC Energy Tuxpan-Tula pipeline is covered in the 216-page report Territories of water: defense of community areas and the shared history of their peoples (published in December 2021).
The report was produced by researchers from the Workshop for the Defence of Territories (Taller por la Defensa de los Territorios), the Autonomous University of Mexico City (UACM), the Center for Studies for Change in the Mexican Countryside (Ceccam) and GRAIN in collaboration with communities impacted by the pipeline.
The report links TC Energy and “a series of irregularities in Mexico against Otomi, Nahua and Totonac communities and in Canada against Wet’suwet’en communities.”
When the report was presented to the Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples in Defense of the Territory of Puebla and Hidalgo, the council “accepted and celebrated the document, and pledged to continue their fight, and eventually to establish links with the Wet’suwet’en communities that resist TC-Energy in Canada.”