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22 February 2010 | |

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Violent eviction of communities in Montes Azules, Chiapas to give way to monoculture plantations and tourist projects

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Under the pretext of “reforesting” the area and setting private tourist resorts in Montes Azules, in the Mexican state of Chiapas, there have been evictions of local communities in January.

State and federal police officers, army troops, government authorities and cameramen and journalists participated in the operation. They arrived in helicopters and burned down their houses in several parts of Ocosingo municipality.

The villages affected by this Mexican state policy are 6 de Octubre, San Gregorio, Nuevo San Gregorio, Ranchería Corozal, Suspiro, Buen Samaritano and Laguna San Pedro y Salvador Allende. Several of the villages that have been evicted are bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).

La Jornada newspaper reported on January 31 that the communities are accusing the government of lying, for burning down indigenous houses, while the papers talk about resettlement of Zapatista activists of Laguna San Pedro, whose houses were destroyed, the co-op store was robbed and they damaged fruit trees, corn, beans, clothes and work tools.

Private projects to harvest palm oil to produce biodiesel, as well as forestation and the creation of luxurious tourist projects in Chiapas, are behind these land grabbing.

According to testimonies of the displaced families of El Suspiro, 3 to 5 helicopters landed there, nearly 60 police officers came out in uniforms. “The police forced María Cortés Pérez and Magdalena García Cortés out of their homes, and they later put them on the helicopter and sent them to Palenque”. The eviction took place without prior notice, without producing any legal document or warrant and without letting people take their belongings with them.

The Biosphere Reserve of Montes Azules hosts a fifth of the Mexican biological diversity, since it hosts 50% of the rainforests, 50% of the birds and daily butterflies, 30% of mammals, and 10% of the total fresh water marine species.

The Mexican government believes the communities living in the reserve are “irregular populations” that have to be displaced to give way to palm oil plantations and an agrodiesel processing plant, which is planned through private investments.

According to Otros Mundos, Friends of the Earth Mexico, the actions of Ocosingo municipality show the “contempt of Chiapas government for its residents, by means of lies and constant violence, especially against the native peoples, which goes against their culture, ways of life and physical integrity”.

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