For the last year, ejidatarios consulted from Zapotlán, Zapotiltic and Zapotitlán de Vadillo stated that they had heard of wildfires caused intentionally because owners of forested land wanted to transform it and install their avocado plantations there. They explained that, when the area is burned, the owners can achieve the change of land use from forest to agricultural without problems before the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).
Zapotlán El Grande, Jalisco. The flames have enveloped the south of Jalisco for 10 days. It took a week and a half for the municipalities surrounding the Colima volcano – Zapotlán el Grande, Sayula, San Gabriel and Tuxpan – the fire to burn 12,172 coveted acres of forest, ideal for the buoyant fashion crop in the region: the avocado.
The impact of the ecosystem reaches the 13 thousand 311 hectares that, according to the Ministry of Environment and Territorial Development (Semadet), were affected by fires during the first four months of the year.
As if it were the plague that moves through the body, little by little the sky turned yellow and the raspy air began to make life difficult in the region.
Based on its empirical knowledge, the Nahua Tuxpanense community, allied to Zapatismo, attributes the fires to the intention of leveling the forest to make way for the avocado monoculture , which is exported to Japan, Canada and Europe and feeds the government slogan ” Jalisco , the agri-food giant of Mexico “.
From a year ago, Zapotlán consulted ejidatarios, Zapotiltic and Zapotitlán de Vadillo said they had heard of fires forest caused intentionally because of forestland owners wanted to transform and install their plantations of avocado. They explained that, when the area is burned, the owners can achieve the change of land use from forest to agricultural without problems before the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).
From 2000 to 2019, Semarnat has authorized the change of land use, from forest to avocado orchards, in 176 hectares in San Gabriel and 38 in Zapotlán, according to the response to the request for information 0001600464718.
In addition, the Federal Procurator for Environmental Protection (Profepa) has identified at least 278 illegal hectares of “green gold” in what were once forests of Zapotlán, San Gabriel and Tuxpan
In parallel, according to the response to the request for information 0001700336218, the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, formerly PGR, has initiated nine investigation folders for land use change in Zapotlán el Grande, for which a person was sentenced in May 2013.
Data from the federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader) show that these four municipalities located in the Nevado de Colima mountain range – the highest mountain in the west of the country – concentrate 40 percent of the avocado plantations in Jalisco, that in December of 2018 they added 22 thousand 532, only behind Michoacán, which has 166 thousand 512.
For Oswaldo Romero Chávez, nahua tuxpanense member of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Indigenous Council of Government (CIG), this air has impregnated the smell of extermination.
“They told me in the morning that the flora and fauna were also affected. In and of itself there are no bees, they were also lost with the burning. The Nevado will take several years to recover. We are failing as humanity, “he says.
Romero Chávez affirms that the peasants of the area who plant basic grains such as corn, beans and vegetables for self-consumption and local commerce have been pressured to reassure their land to producers of this avocado.
Registered by the Government as “small producers”, for them to migrate to the avocado crop alone is practically inaccessible, since planting the new “green gold” costs up to 300 thousand pesos per hectare, with profits generally starting in the fifth year, which makes it a luxury that few can afford.
In his book, La agroindustria del aguacate in the south of Jalisco , researcher Alejandro Macías Macías documents how a single producer, of the 1,152 registered in the region in 2012, accounted for 11 percent of the planted area.
“There are people who are called runners. These people go to your house and offer you dollar amounts. They tell you about a quantity. We see it as a way of being harassed because there are people who have another thought, that we do not want to rent for the avocado but to plant our own corn, as our ancestors have done, as it is traditional because our corn is used for the holidays, take advantage of the support of my house, “says Romero.
Although in the municipality of Romero Chávez it went from zero to one thousand 30 hectares of avocado plantations in a decade, the star crop of the agro-export model adopted by Jalisco has not penetrated the traditional Nahua gastronomy of the “town of eternal celebration”, where it continues reigning the coachala, a dish based on corn dough, tomato sauce, pasilla chili and cooked chicken.
For the Nahua councilman, the way to resist capitalism in his community is simple: to take care of the harmony between what is given to the earth and what is received from the earth, which is also reflected in the interpersonal relationships in the town .
“With the avocado, there is more economy and more comfort. Before the families came to plant their own corn, but now with the ease that there are, several things arise, “describes Romero Chávez.
The councilor explains that in the region there were no foreign supermarkets that exist today, which he calls “raya stores”.
“Socially, before people depended on their own land and families worked together; Now they work for a pattern and the pattern is the one that says. There are amenities, yes: they bring you to your house, you do not make tortillas anymore. Now you go and buy at the stores of Ray. That’s what changed in the social, it’s a drastic change, “he laments.
Of the more than 12,000 hectares affected by fires in southern Jalisco, 886 damaged Nevado de Colima, on the border between Zapotlán and Tuxpan. According to the Semadet, 89 hectares of mesophilic forest were burned there, an ecosystem in danger of extinction that survives only in 1 percent of the national territory. In it coexist from bats to pumas among oyameles, oaks and the endemic spruce of the mountain: the abies colimensis -also in danger of extinction.
With concern, the councilor of the Nahua community of Tuxpan, to which María de Jesús Patricio belongs, Marichuy, the spokesperson of the CNI, explained the cultural loss that the change in the use of the land represents.
“Sometimes we go to the Nevado, which we call an orchard, in a place called the Loma del zopilote, to bring laurel and bud to fix our altars of Holy Week or some party we have in the community.
“We ask permission from Mother Earth for what we are going to take. We do not knock down small trees, pure branch. Until that we will need. Where are we going to grab that? It already burned. That affects us a lot. “
Although Governor Enrique Alfaro and the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alberto Esquer, have cited Article 97 of the General Law of Sustainable Forestry Development that proposes a 20-year ban on burned forest land to try to quench the discontent in the networks social against avocado growers, the councilor of Tuxpan knows that economic interests outweigh the laws.
Romero Chávez said that at the end of the first half of the year, the CNI Tuxpan, the Southern Zapatista Peasant Union (UCASZ) based in Amacueca and work teams in Colima will invite civil society to organize themselves to plan strategies of resistance to the projects capitalists in the region.
“The catastrophe came big. I have never seen this in my life and believe me that I am really impressed with everything that is happening. It is necessary to awaken the conscience in each one of the inhabitants of the south of Jalisco and to take care of our forests, to be more responsible to take care of everything that Mother Earth is giving us and to conserve what we have. In some way we must organize ourselves.
“If those people have been causing the fires, tell them not to do it. Because here, in this boat called Earth, we all go. “
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