PBI-Mexico accompanies Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water at highway blockade at Cholula garbage dump

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On March 21st, PBI-Mexico tweeted: “Today PBI accompanies the @fpdtampt [Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water] at a protest against the landfill in San Pedro Cholula. We urge state and federal agencies, such as @Segob_Puebla [the Secretary of the Interior of the State of Puebla] and @AmbientePuebla [Environment Secretary of Puebla], to sit down with the affected towns to resolve this conflict.”

Periódico Central reported: “During the morning of this Thursday, March 21, inhabitants of different indigenous peoples of Cholula blocked the Cholula-Calpan federal highway with tires and vehicles to demand the closure of the sanitary landfill. …Residents denounce that the aquifers and crops in the area are being severely contaminated, so they decided to close the federal highway to Calpan.”

Video: PBI-Mexico takes notes as State Police arrive (El Heraldo de Puebla).

La Jornada de Oriente notes: “The mobilization began with the participation of organizations such as the Guardians of the Metlapanapa River, the February 8 Movement, the Defense of Cholulteca Water, the People’s Front in Defense of Land and Water of Tlaxcala, Puebla and Morelos, as well as the Rubén Jaramillo Center for Studies on Poverty.”

And El Sol de Puebla adds:

Shouting ‘Out with the garbage dump’, a group of residents of the municipalities of San Pedro Cholula, Juan Crisóstomo Bonilla and Calpan, protested outside the Cholula dry landfill to demand its definitive closure, for being a ‘source of contamination’.

To reinforce the demand, the protesters have blocked the Cholula-Calpan state highway, in both directions, and have also hung banners and placed a blanket at the main entrance of the site, to prevent garbage collection trucks from entering or leaving the place.

Photo: Bus blocks the highway.

Photo: A banner is hung on the front gate of the garbage dump.

‘No to the garbage dump, no to the garbage dump’ is the only demand chanted by the inhabitants, who since last month, activated protests against this precinct, inaugurated in July 2015 by authorities from the three levels of government.

They also threaten to extend the protest indefinitely and maintain the sit-in, until the Ministry of the Environment, Sustainable Development and Territorial Planning of Puebla closes the place.

It is important to say that after two hours of these mobilizations, no government representative has approached the conflict zone to engage in dialogue.

Faced with the scenario, the Indigenous Peoples reported that they will not withdraw from the facilities of this urban solid waste processing plant, since they will not allow the discharge of more garbage.

Photo: The blockade at the gate of the garbage dump is reinforced. Photo by Luisa Tirzo.

Antonio Zaca Manjarrez, a resident of San Pedro Cholula, for the umpteenth time, asked for the definitive closure of the open ground landfill, as well as for the authorities to demand that the private company that operates it apply an abandonment program, that is, that with the closure, the mountains of garbage already generated are also taken away.

‘The authorities just drag our feet, they say that they are operating under official standards, but that is not possible, because here there is a lot of water in the Cholula region and the water mirrors are 27 meters away and the unfortunate thing is that they are burying the garbage at that same depth and they are contaminating the water and the land. And we want closure’, he added.

He added that they are willing to maintain the sit-in throughout this day and as long as it takes to achieve the definitive closure.

It should be noted that in the presence of the protesters, the entry and exit of collection trucks from some municipalities is suspended at the landfill in question, as they wait their turn to carry out maneuvers.

Outside, there are two units of the City Council of San Nicolás de los Ranchos, as well as three trailers, where the latter, according to the complainants, come from the State of Mexico and Oaxaca to unload their waste.

While inside the landfill, it is heard that the staff is working normally, although the employees try to convince the demonstrators to allow the exit of a dump truck and another heavy load unit.

PBI-Mexico has accompanied the Peoples’ Front in Defence of Land and Water – Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala since early 2020. In August 2022, that accompaniment was extended for another three years.

Further reading: PBI-Mexico to observe protest demanding closure of Cholula Landfill given concerns about air and water pollution (PBI-Canada, March 21, 2024)

Update: MTP Noticias reports that the blockade was still in place more than 12 hours later (at 12:45 am on March 22).

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