Millennial town near Santa Lucia requires consultation; AMLOS government says that there is no need

Although the community is less than a kilometer from the work, the authorities believe that it will not impact on it and that is why they should not be consulted.

The community of San Lucas Xolox, in the State of Mexico, is preparing to celebrate in 2020 the thousand years of its foundation. It is the oldest town in the area that surrounds the Santa Lucia air base and presumes that its name comes from where the empire of the Chichimeca king Xolotl was. However, the current government did not consider it an indigenous town that had to be consulted for the construction project of the new Felipe Ángeles airport.

In the municipality of Tecámac, to which Xolox belongs, there are 12 towns that are considered original, along with Zumpango and Nextlalpan, the others that surround the base, add 20 . But only one consultation was carried out in one of them, San Miguel Xaltocan, Nextlalpan, on March 10. In the rest, not even squares were installed of the public consultation that the transition team organized in October throughout the country to decide whether to cancel the New International Airport in Texcoco and build another one in Santa Lucia.

Some inhabitants have begun to organize and have already gathered about 350 signatures to ask the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) to be recognized as such and to consult on the work, since until now the only negotiations have been between the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), in charge of the project, and the farmers to sell their land. The villagers want the entire community to be considered for what they will be involved in terms of noise, water shortages, insecurity and other effects of the mega project.

The coordinator of Indigenous Rights of INPI, Hugo Aguilar, confirmed to Político that although Xolox has more speakers of indigenous language than Xaltocan, it was decided not to consult because the Institute considered that the work will not significantly impact the life of the community, located less than a kilometer from the airstrip.

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Heavy machinery on the hill of Xolox

Negotiation between military and peasants

Filiberto Mena has a food store right in the small central square of the town, next to the church, where the offices of the ejido commissioner are also located. From the door of his business, he noticed in the last month an unusual presence of soldiers coming and going to talk with the peasants.

Later they would find out, account, that the ejidatarios agreed to negotiate only with them the sale of land necessary for the project, without communicating with the rest of the inhabitants.

Aguilar, of the INPI, confirmed in an interview that this agreement existed.

“When we did interviews with some owners, they said they did not want the community to be involved in the dialogue and negotiation of the sale of their land,” he said, explaining the reasons why there was no consultation at Xolox.

Benjamín Galindo, another neighbor of the town, says that then the dissatisfied decided to approach and demand that they also negotiate with them.

“We noticed some and said: What is happening? We began to see soldiers who came and had to leave the information. In one of his meetings we practically went to the brave. I am the son of an ejidatario, I am not an ejidatario, but they know us, so they can not say no. We approached and when they vacated with the ejidatarios, we entered. ‘And who are you?’ They asked us. “We are from the town, and these ejidatarios are not going to decide on 15 thousand inhabitants that we are,” he recalls.

In response, he adds, the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu) sent a representative to open the dialogue.

“Here the only happy ones are the ejidatarios. The community is not so happy, and not because it does not touch them, but because what is going to become of us? “Mena claims. “No one is going to stop the progress, but when it is least planned, that would be one of the requests. Let there be communication, sit down and talk. “

They fear overexploitation of resources, pollution and insecurity

Xolox has its own drinking water system, which can even be drunk, extracted directly from the subsoil. In the area there is a network of wells in the Cuautitlán-Pachuca basin, which supplies part of the consumption of Mexico City, but according to the National Water Commission (Conagua) already has an over-exploitation of 800%.

The main concern of the residents of Xolox – as in San Miguel Xaltocan, where the government promised to solve their shortage problems – is the water, both in the basin, and the one that will be lost if the entire territory is populated that surrounds the base and overexploitation of resources occurs.

Part of the territory of the town is the Tláloc hill, where ceremonies are made that mix the Catholic mass with pre-Hispanic rituals, such as the dance of the Voladores de Papantla. The climb is steep, full of nopal trees among which neighbors have opened gaps, and where they claim that there were archaeological remains.

However, the back is devastated by a mine that extracts stony material. From the top, where you can clearly see the existing airstrip, which begins two kilometers from that point, you can also see that all the surrounding mountains have excavations. The residents are worried that the mining activity will increase in the region and that the vegetation of the hills will be affected, which serves to collect water.

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Mine on the hill of Xolox

On the other hand, there is a wastewater outlet that is on the land that is going to be sold to the Sedena, so they wonder where it is going to go to give that. But nobody has given them information about it.

“In Xaltocan they negotiated, and not for their own benefit, but for the community itself. And that’s what it’s about to do, that here comes a consultation. Progress is not going to stop; If we already had to be here, we will try to do the best we can, “insists Mena.

In addition to these elements, they are concerned that insecurity may increase. It is already considered a red light for the number of assaults that are on public transport going to Tecámac and Zumpango, and because they say that organized crime has thrown corpses out there. In other towns, they say, when it has been known that there are people with large amounts of money after the sale of their land, they have already been raised.

No need for consultation because it will not affect the community, says the INPI

However, for the INPI, none of these concerns implies a significant impact on the life of the community, and therefore ruled out making a consultation.

The coordinator of Indigenous Rights, Hugo Aguilar, explained that since January they began to analyze the situation of the towns around the airport project, to issue a technical criterion. The first element to consider, is that there are more than 40% of native speakers, a condition that is not given in any case.

But another element is self-identification, that is, the community is considered indigenous because it maintains traditions, forms of organization and pre-Hispanic rituals. In San Miguel Xaltocan, the only place where airport approval was voted, inhabitants told Political Animal that INPI approached them to ask them if they wanted to self-write as an indigenous people and obtain the benefits of Convention 169 of the International Organization of the Labor (ILO), which establishes the obligation to make a prior, free and informed consultation on decisions and works that will affect the people.

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Central square of San Lucas Xolox

The key issue was, according to Aguilar, that in Xaltocan there is an ejido of shared ownership over lands that are needed for the expansion of the air base, while in the rest of the villages each farmer owns his plot.

“In the case of San Lucas Xolox, there is a higher number of speakers of indigenous language than in Xaltocan, with them we could also conclude that they are an indigenous community, in Xolox and Ozumbilla; however, we find that these two communities no longer have collective property on the land. Then there is no direct or significant impact on the collective heritage of the community.

Inhabitants refer that, according to historians, this Xolox codex would be between 1720 or 1740.

They have already adopted full ownership over their collective property lands for years and today they have small properties in the vicinity of the airport and on the surface that will be affected by the expansion of the airport. So having this circumstance, we issued the opinion that the affectation already falls on individuals, and no longer on the community as such, “said Aguilar.

– But in addition to the lands, the town is next, will have some impact for the works, no? -, he was questioned

“So is. But look, we are guiding ourselves with a criterion that was issued by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation four years ago. The Supreme Court says that not all issues are consultable, but only those that generate a significant impact on the life of the community. So, for the moment, with the elements of the project that we have, the significant impact that the communities are going to suffer is because of their lands. “

Aguilar did not rule out, however, that the studies carried out from now on may show that there will be some environmental or other damage that leads them to reassess the obligation to make a consultation. He also acknowledged that the people have the right to request that they be considered indigenous, as they are trying to process it in San Lucas Xolox, but insisted that even if they achieve this recognition, the claims about the environment, water, noise and insecurity are not Valid for INPI criteria.

“If they asked to be consulted about the airport issue, we would have to analyze the elements that we have, which is the plane of land affectation, and that is the most we have. With those elements, we would continue saying: consultation is not necessary. That does not mean that you can not consult, because a progressive position and full protection of rights, yes, although not necessary, can be consulted. But it is not obligatory to make the consultation. Let’s say, it would not affect the construction of the airport, the validity of the project, the fact that it is not consulted, because it can be shown that there is no significant impact on the community, “Aguilar said.

Source: animal politico

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