Threatening the Land and People of Chiapas

Threatening the Land and People of Chiapas

The Mexican government has announced plans to bring ‘progress’ and ‘development’ to Chiapas, under the renewed “Plan Puebla Panama” scheme, now called the “Mesoamerica Initiative.”

“A renewed push to exploit and destroy the land and people of Chiapas,” says rootforce, the plan involves the ‘four horsemen of Chiapas’: mining, infrastructure, bio-fuel, and oil.

For some time now Chiapas has been faced with major challenges surrounding minerals exploitation, particularly from Canadian mining companies, who, as we should all know well by now, “are notorious throughout Latin America [and the rest of the world] for their ruthless eviction of traditional communities and for their devastation and pollution of lands and rivers,” says Jessica Davies.

This is precisely what awaits Chiapas where “there are apparently 55 new mining applications pending… for the exploration and extraction until 2056 of gold, silver, copper, barite, lead, titanium, iron, zinc, antimony, molybdenum, and other minerals needed for the oil industry,” Davies adds.

Regarding infrastructure, the government wants to help the extractive industry and expand tourism by constructing roads, bridges, and various other developments.

For instance, in the Northern part of Chiapas, a so-called “eco-archaeological tourism” theme park is currently in the works.

Located at the pre-colonial Mayan city of Palenque, the ‘them park’ will consist of “[a highway and 3 bridges] as well as hotels, restaurants, related businesses and an expansion of the Palenque Airport,” according to the Chiapas Support Comittee. “The highway and other construction will cut through and divide the land of the living Maya while facilitating the tourist exploitation of [their ancestors].”

Plans for the final two ‘horseman’ – oil and bio-fuel – were announced by the Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel, on November 21.

Kessel said that in 2009, Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, would be allowed to start prospecting and drilling for oil in the Lacandon rain forest, among other areas.

Kessel further announced a plan to produce bio-diesel in Chiapas, using a plant called “Jatropha curcus.”

Also known as the “Black Vomit Nut” Jatropha is a very controversial plant because of its highly toxic properties. Consuming as few as three of its seeds can be fatal to humans.

Overall, this four-part scheme, which has been pledged to “save the economy” and bring “progress and development for the benefit everyone,” implies “very serious threats to the rich biodiversity of the state of Chiapas and to the rights and the lands of the indigenous peoples of the region,” states the NGO ‘Maderas del Pueblo’ in a November 23 communique.

With it, “the federal and state governments have shown that they have embarked on a ’schizophrenic demagogy’ in which, at the same time as they announce policies, programmes and ‘green’ resources to tackle climate change, there is an obvious contradiction as they are clearly demonstrating themselves in favour of a return to a savage capitalism, of a short-term and extractive character, together with the interests of grand capital, of the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, of those producing bottled water and all those keen to convert wood and forest cover into ’sinks’” for the multinational carbon market; of all those hiding behind a disguise of green philanthropy and supported by cross-governmental, national and international organisations, and calling themselves ‘conservationists’, and who have been encouraging and applauding the official policy of pillaging and plundering the biodiverse indigenous territories and turning them into ‘Protected Natural Areas’ ‘for the benefit of humanity’,” Maderas del Pueblo continues.

“The basic question [now] is: Will the indigenous people and campesino communities, with their lands, natural resources and rights all threatened, permit this proposed plunder to take place?”



Nuclear parity threatened

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MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti military correspondent Ilya Kramnik) – The 1991 Soviet-U.S. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) expires December 5 next year.

This brings to the fore the problem of reducing nuclear arsenals and the monitoring of the process because the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which is valid through 2012, does not provide for irreversible reductions and does not establish a permanent mutual verification mechanism.

The 1991 treaty, which entered into force in late 1994, limits the sides’ strategic offensive potential to 1,600 carriers and 6,000 warheads. START II, the successor of START I, banned the use of MIRVs on ICBMs but it was never validated. In 2004, Russia officially withdrew from START II in response to the U.S. pullout from the 1972 ABM Treaty in 2002.

First decommissioning authorization in Italy

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The final decommissioning of the Bosco Marengo uranium enrichment plant has been authorised in Italy. It will be the first nuclear facility in the country to begin decommissioning. The decision was taken after consultations between the minister of economic development, Claudio Scajola, and the Italian Nuclear Safety Authority (Ispra).

The enrichment plant, known as Fabbricazioni Nucleari di Bosco Marengo, started operation in 1973, as result of the cooperation of Ansaldo Meccanico Nucleare and General Electric. Agip Nucleare, the former nuclear corporation controlled by the Italian oil-giant ENI gained a majority stake in the late 1970s.

Bosco Marengo produced more than 500 tonnes of fuel for domestic and overseas nuclear power plants. In 1989 ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment, bought the plant which was among a group of facilities that were subsequently transferred to Sogin, the decommissioning authority, in 2005.

US refuses Marshalls bid to use aid for nuclear victims

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MAJURO (AFP) — The US has refused a request by the Marshall Islands to use grant money to compensate victims of the American nuclear weapons testing programme in the western Pacific atoll nation, officials said.

The US tested 67 nuclear weapons at Bikini and Enewetak atolls from 1946 to 1958 and a Nuclear Claims Tribunal was set up by the two governments to compensate those displaced or suffering health problems due to the tests.

But the 150 million dollars the United States provided for paying settlements ran out three years ago and the US State Department has said there is no obligation to pay more

Concern for Climate Change Defines Energy Dept. Nominee

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The man tapped to be the next secretary of energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, recently compared the danger of climate change to a problem with electrical wiring in a house.

Suppose, he said, you had a small electrical fire at home and a structural engineer told you there was a 50 percent chance your house would burn down in the next few years unless you spent $20,000 to fix faulty wiring.

“You can either continue to shop for additional evaluations until you find the one engineer in 1,000 who is willing to give you the answer you want — ‘your family is not in danger’ — or you can change the wiring,” Chu said in a presentation in September.

DOE: Expand Yucca Mountain or plan new site

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BRATTLEBORO – The secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy told the president and Congress on Tuesday that the time is now to act on either expanding a proposed nuclear waste facility in Nevada or developing a second site.”The Secretary of Energy recommends that Congress act promptly to remove the statutory limit … and defer a decision regarding the need for a second repository,” stated Samuel Bodman.

The facility was authorized by Congress for the storage of 70,000 metric tons of waste, he wrote.

Attorneys say ex-worker not aware of Davis-Besse errors

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Attorneys for Andrew Siemaszko yesterday sought an acquittal for their client on the grounds that the one-time Davis-Besse employee was oblivious to errors in key documents that went to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission weeks before the plant’s old reactor head nearly blew apart in 2002. A former systems engineer who FirstEnergy put in charge of the reactor head despite inadequate training for that job, Siemaszko was convicted in August by a U.S. District Court jury in Toledo on three of five felony charges of withholding vital information from a government agency.

Now a resident of Spring, Texas, Siemaszko faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. He is to be sentenced Feb. 6 unless Judge David Katz overturns the verdicts.