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Report says ‘so-called’ NGOs are driving the “Commodification of Nature” in Chia

International Zapatista Translation Service | 10.06.2012 12:44 | Ecology | Social Struggles | Zapatista | World

** Attempts to appropriate the Lacandón Jungle by multinational corporations

** Indigenous communities of Montes Azules are at risk of eviction by federal authorities

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

The environmental organization Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste (hereafter Maderas del Pueblo), after taking a tour with other civil organisations through three indigenous communities established in the Montes Azules and threatened with eviction by the federal authorities, came to the following conclusions:

“The global strategy of ‘territorial clearing and control’, disguised as a philanthropic ‘conservationist spirit’, but answering to the multinational corporate interests of so-called green capitalism, is now interested in ecological conservation, in the form of natural protected areas of a federal character, for the purposes of commodification, appropriation and acquisition of multi-millions of dollars in private profit”.

For Maderas del Pueblo (Woods of the People), the “common natural wealth” in this and other indigenous regions (biodiversity, forest cover that captures carbon, uncontaminated water, minerals, scenic beauty), is “the invaluable patrimony of the Mexican people”; some of the world’s most powerful corporations covet this, and several of them already have a presence in the Lacandón Jungle and its surroundings.

And it enumerates the sectors: biotechnology and agro-food (Monsanto, Pioneer, Novartis, Bimbo); pharmaceutical (Pharmacia, Bayer, Pfizer, Aventis); automotive and oil (Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Shell, International Automobile Federation); bottling (Coca Cola, Nestlé, Pepsi Cola) and mining (Cemex).

The “conservationist privatization”, and the commodification of nature, “is driven by multilateral organisations for finance and for international cooperation,” like the World Bank (promoter of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor), European Union (Prodesis), the United States Agency for International Development (with the Lacandón Jungle Century XXI Project: Joint Strategy for the Conservation of Biodiversity) and, recently, by agreement of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), for the “disastrous” programme Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Environmental Degradation (REDD Plus).

These strategies are operated by allegedly “non-governmental” organizations [NGOs], of a transnational character like Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund, or national like the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza), Pronatura and “very specially” Natural Spaces and Sustainable Development (Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable), Mexican Nature and Ecosystems (Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos) and the Interdisciplinary Center of Biodiversity and the Environment (Centro Interdisciplinario de Biodiversidad y Ambiente, CEIBA).

The last three, the study emphasizes, are linked to the former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Julia Carabias, “who has implemented ‘green’ businesses in the southern part of the Lacandón Jungle, which range from the commercialisation of butterflies and projects for ‘marketing environmental services’ with funds from the National Forest Commission and Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), to hotels for ‘ecotourism’ and scientific tourism in what once was UNAM’s Biological Station at Chajul and [another] at the mouth of the Tzendales River.”

Maderas del Pueblo is clear that the current Chiapas government “has demagogically taken on the discourse of ‘ecology’ and the ‘struggle against climate change’, using the Lacandón Jungle as a spearhead”; they are also using the so-called Lacandón Community, composed of Lacandóns (the document calls them “Maya Caribes”) and Tzeltal “sub-comuneros” of Nuevo Palestina and Chols of Frontera Corozal, as minority “associates”, to implement ecotourism projects (“in reality, conventional scenic tourism and an elitist adventure tourism”), as well as programmes of paying for environmental services and REDD. To all this is added the expansion of African Palm plantations for agro-fuels in the strip that goes from Palenque to Marqués de Comillas.

After verifying the situation in the Montes Azules and in the communities threatened with eviction, Maderas del Pueblo calls on social and political organizations with a presence in the region to “build a united front in defence of land and territory”. The natural riches in the Lacandón region which “are strategic to national sovereignty” are faced with an “aggressive” territorial alienation which is underway solely for the purposes of the market.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Saturday, June 9, 2012
En español:

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the:
International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the:
Chiapas Support Committee, California
Wellington Zapatista Support Group
UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

International Zapatista Translation Service