By Luca Martinelli
Approaches of the Mexican and Chiapas Civil Society regarding the Agreement between the European Union and the Government of Chiapas. Guadalajara Social Statement Facing the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit "THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLES COME FIRST"
Any development cooperation action financed by the EU must be defined under the mandatory consultation and full participation of the affected populations, as stated in ILO Convention 169 and ESCR, freeing them from the growing external conditionality that subordinates development cooperation to a trade agenda based on structural adjustment programs that have historically proven to be unsuccessful.
Guadalajara Social Statement Facing the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit "THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLES COME FIRST"
In the final document of the Guadalajara Summit, which has gathered in the capital of the state of Jalisco the heads of State and Government of Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union at the end of May of this year, the leaders of the two regions declare their unconditional and firm respect for human rights.
Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of people who demonstrated in the streets of the city their rejection of neoliberal policies, the war in Iraq and the imperialism of the US and the EU in LA were beaten by the Mexican Police and later imprisoned. tortured and - when foreigners - expelled from the country, without any respect for their human rights.
The issue of human rights remains central on the Agenda of social and civil movements that, on the same days as the official Summit, have organized a Counter-Summit, in which thousands of representatives of hundreds of organizations from both Latin America have participated. as from the countries of the European Union; The issue remains central despite the ineffectiveness of the rules of International Law when efficient control mechanisms for their application have not been established; remains central because governments must be pushed to make the supposed rules of democracy that now also 'color' the Free Trade Agreements real and effective, so that the vultures have a more human face, as is the case of the Treaty between the European Union and Mexico.
"The government summit takes place in a context of serious setbacks and threats to the self-determination of nations, comprehensive human rights and peace, both in Europe and in America, and throughout the world. After two decades of suffering the policies neoliberals, Latin America continues to be the region of the world with the highest level of inequality.The extreme concentration of wealth and land is exacerbated by the cost of external debt, resources devoted to militarism, corruption and impunity. As if this were not enough, Latin America and the Caribbean are today seeded with "free trade" agreements [...] bilateral agreements push both in Europe and Latin America the same models that exacerbate unemployment and job insecurity, transforming into merchandise health, education, public services, culture and social security, among others, in addition to causing the disappearance of family agriculture through the Agricultural Policy Common wave (CAP). The Constitution that the EU is preparing to approve rescues this approach. That happens without the peoples of the EU having been consulted. This is the model of "social cohesion" that the EU intends to promote in Latin America and the Caribbean. "
Around these issues, an interesting debate has been opened in Guadalajara that has also covered the Project recently approved by the European Union in Chiapas, its lack of respect for human rights and the participation of civil society and indigenous communities in the decision. of the proyects. Many of the organizations that have participated in the Counter-Summit, and among them many from Chiapas, have promoted a document presented to the European Union and the government of the State of Chiapas, in which they ask for a moratorium on said agreement, denouncing that they have never been Consultations have been made in the communities "affected" by the alleged development projects, neither by the state government, nor by EU officials, thus contravening the rules established by Convention No. 169 of the International Organization of the Work; and that the project - the organizations that signed are still in the complaint - does not recognize the situation of war in the State, so it does not favor the rapprochement between the parties (Federal Government and Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and meanwhile encourages the fragmentation and polarization between the different indigenous communities and social organizations of La Selva.
Some of the social and civil organizations of Chiapas and Mexico committed to the process of Just, Dignified and True Peace in the conflict that broke out in 1994, have positioned themselves around the idea of sustainable development of the Lacandon Jungle shared by the EU and the government of the State of Chiapas. Miguel Alvarez, former executive secretary of the National Intermediation Commission (CONAI) and director of SERAPAZ (Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz), an organization based in Mexico City and whose president is the Bishop Emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas Samuel Ruiz tells us that his organization has not even been informed of the design of said project. According to him, the project, as it is conceived, cannot absolutely contribute to peace in Chiapas.
"Because peace requires participatory processes that contribute to detente and focus on the causes of the conflict, not measures that operate unilaterally and strengthen only the strategies and interests of the government and the powerful."
According to Blanca Martínez, director of the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center, in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas,
"It is very likely that if a" consultation "has been carried out [but] with some organizations, especially with the Lacandones who are the unconditional of the group in power [and] that it allows them to continue maintaining their prerogatives. I know that the Rigoberta Foundation Menchú was hired to carry out a consultation on an Ecotourism project in the area, to cover Convention 169 [of the International Labor Organization], and also [considering] the pseudo gain that the organization of a Nobel Peace Prize endorses this work. It is very likely that certain formalities have been covered. The problem for us is who was consulted, how it was consulted, with what level of clarity of information the possible consulted could give their opinion. From what we know of members of organizations such as Xinich and bases of the Aric (I am not very sure about their leaders), some of the communities that are at risk of being evicted, and Zapatita communities, were not consulted . I would emphasize the consultation, the method and the informed consent. Regarding civil organizations that are or follow processes in the area, specifically Frayba, Fray Pedro, the parish of Ocosingo, Enlace y Comunicación, Compich and all the NGOs of SCLC, we were not consulted at all " .
Asked if the project could - in her opinion - contribute to achieving peace in Chiapas, Martínez expresses her deep doubts because "I believe that although it could be an excellent plan for the conservation and development of the Forest, and even that it would include communities, the problem is that they do not take into account that we are living in an unresolved internal armed conflict, and that the Selva region is geostrategic also in military terms ", as two different studies recently published in Chiapas by CAPISE have shown and by CIEPAC researcher, Onésimo Hidalgo.
For his part, Miguel Angel García de Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste denounces the exclusion of many civil organizations from the discussion of the objectives and projects of the program, while other NGOs (which can undoubtedly be considered Government Organizations) will benefit from the program, included as consultants or trainers in the framework of the different projects that will be carried out in the next three years.
"An obvious sign [of the situation that has been created] is the clear omission in the consultation on this Program to all those NGOs that maintain a critical view of government programs and in particular, in relation to the situation in the area where conflict and in Montes Azules, and that, in various ways, we have an impact in that region, such as DESMI, CIEPAC, COMPITCH, CAPISE, El Frayba, Maderas del Pueblo, the Network of Community Defenders, SIPAZ, among others. "
This occurs while "a part of the funds are reserved for the payment of consultants and trainers (" NGOs "and offices), which it is foreseeable that they will be managed in a discretionary and exclusive manner by the Ministry of Social Development, to benefit the The same offices that have been doing counterinsurgency work for years and filling their pockets with money. Here, we are talking about Mero Lek AC (by Felipe Villagrán and Pablo Muench), Conservation Internacional, Conserva AC (by Marta Gómez Orantes), the office of Diana Orive (Adolfo Orive's sister), the office of Valentina Estrada (former affiliate of the Unión de Uniones, unconditional of Adolfo); Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable (by Julia Carabinas) and IDESMAC itself (whose owner Arturo Areola, apparently , already has a position in the structure of the Program) ".
In the words of the recently deceased journalist and former governor "in Rebeldia" of the state of Chiapas Amado Avendaño, García continues to mention that "this project, in the best of cases, could be located in what Don Amado Avendaño called the" counterinsurgency of good faith "(and that, giving him the benefit of the doubt). It is clear that such a large and sudden injection of resources into the conflict zone, through government agencies and official city councils, is going to function as a factor of division and of intra and inter-community tension, especially knowing (from within) how the state government operates (particularly the Ministry of Social Development and currently, SEPI itself -Secretary of the Indian Peoples-, in whose management positions related to this program there are characters such as Martín Longoria and Rodolfo Díaz Sarvide, or Juan Vázquez himself, who at different historical moments have played an openly counterinsurgent role) and how the so-called Program has operated Integral de Desarrollo de la Selva, which replaced the Cañadas de Zedillo program and has had nothing from Integral […]. This program, to which European funds will be added, has continued the absurd, patronizing and patronizing outpouring of funds for tiny and insignificant projects, with the only difference [regarding] the Cañadas [program], that it is less discriminatory in part. In fact, it was a struggle of Porfirio [Encino] upon his arrival to the government to cancel the Cañadas Program and then he proposed to build an alternative program, working on it, but his approach was finally perverted by both Secretaries of Social Development (the federal and the state) ".
The counterinsurgency character of the project seems evident and - concludes García - the only and final objective of the Salazar government promoting said projects
"It is to undermine resistance, with the constant and increasing offer to the communities of the Conflict Zone of government money for small projects, thereby seeking to provoke desertions and co-options that weaken the EZLN. This is serious in the current context of the Juntas. of Good Government and of the autonomous municipalities ".
Jorge Santiago, director of DESMI (Economic and Social Development for Indigenous Mexicans) and collaborator for many years with Samuel Ruiz, gives us a specific analysis of the draft of the project, which allows us to highlight many of its contradictions, noting that although the project is "Well elaborated, but it is not located in the context of the development of alternatives to the model of submission, control and interests on the part of the Neo-liberal State."
1. The true beneficiary of the financing is the Secretariat of Social Development of the government of the State of Chiapas and not the indigenous and peasant population to whom it is supposedly directed. The fact that the project will be implemented by government agencies has very strong implications in a region divided and experiencing a state of war. It is assumed that most of the resources will be destined to populations related to the government although "it is not possible to value where most of the resources will go. It is not known how much of this money will be destined to the population. Costs are considered infrastructure, staff salaries, purchase of vehicles, computers, etc ".
2. There are obvious errors and mistakes in the "identification" of the project. "Of the benefited population only their name is said; they do not speak of their language, their history, the history of the Lacandon Forest, the agrarian, forestry and agricultural situation, they do not speak of the political situation of the communities, their organizations, it is not recognized that the population is politically divided and that there are also various community organizations and different churches.The unresolved conflict with the EZLN is never mentioned, the Autonomous Municipalities are not mentioned, this reality is denied, as if the population was uniform. " In order for the project to truly provide support to the indigenous communities settled in the 16 micro-regions of the Lacandona Forest, around the Montes Azules, the government of the State of Chiapas and the European Union would have to take ethnic characteristics into account, social, cultural and political of said Region.
3. In no paragraph of the text "does it speak of the military presence in the region and [of] its political significance and [of] the consequences with regard to development itself. All the problems generated by the military presence" are not evident . When "you talk about reorganization, you may be covering up relocation with promises of resources."
Further deficiencies stand out when analyzing the idea of development promoted by the Program, where "there is never talk of food self-sufficiency [while] there is talk of a development project with a view to products that are of interest to multinationals."
Santiago concludes that "a Project that does not take into account the conflict and local actors and the socio-political implications in relation to the search for peace in the region can be considered counterinsurgent."
What to do?
Blanca Martínez invites European Union officials to "monitor whether their investments are really going to result in a context of an unresolved internal armed conflict, or if the aim of a project like this is to exacerbate situations that lead to a polarization such that military logic prevails. " Because if it is "in this sense [of the EU] it is valid to support or promote a project so that more than development possibilities can be added to the counterinsurgency."
According to Miguel Álvarez, "understanding that [the project has already] been approved, that it has not yet begun its operation, but rather that it should first carry out a direct consultation in the field with the various actors involved in the problem, which constitutes a representative council of local actors and national organizations to redesign the project in a way that serves peace, and to establish organs and activities for civilian contribution in the care and transparency of the application ".
It is necessary the real participation of the indigenous peoples who cry out for the Right to be subjects of their own development and carry it out in practice with their Autonomy, as well as the participation of the Civil Society that for years has worked with the indigenous communities of the Jungle in the design of development projects. The Mexican government, much less the European government, have the right to outline actions that impact the lives of indigenous peoples without prior, informed and extensive consultations, and not only from groups related to the government. This will guarantee that the projects are directed towards Peace and not counterinsurgency.
* By Luca Martinelli
NEWSLETTER "CHIAPAS AL DÍA" No. 419