Defending their lands and opposing the new airport in Mexico City!
British companies are involved!
In 2001, the indigenous common landholders of San Salvador Atenco in Mexico were successful in their fight against the building of a new airport in Mexico City on their ancestral farm lands. The Peoples Front in Defence of the Land (FPDT) became emblematic for their highly symbolic machetes, and their determined resistance.
In May 2006, the government seized its chance to punish the community for defeating this megaproject. (Breaking the Seige, documentary here). Following an attack characterised by extreme police brutality and violent repression, 2 young people were dead, 26 women raped by the military police, many injured, and 217 people arrested. 9 leaders of the Atenco farmers were illegally sentenced to 31 years, 2 for 67 years, and one for 112 years. The people organised, and a national and international campaign for the liberation of the prisoners was launched with the support of the Zapatista-inspired Other Campaign; the prisoners were finally absolved and freed in 2010.
The man responsible for ordering this repression and the rape of the women was the former governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. He is now the President of Mexico, and the Atenco issue was the shame of his presidential campaign. Two years later, on 3 September 2014, he announced the plans for a new, much larger, international airport in the same area to the east of Mexico City. The new airport will have six runways and be able to handle 120 million passengers a year, four times the capacity of the existing airport; it will cost an estimated £5.5 billion, and have an associated large scale urbanisation project, known as Future City.
The people of Atenco have known this was coming for a long time, and were ready to renew the fight in defence of their lands. For years the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has been using pressure tactics to convince people to sell their lands. The FPDT and their lawyer are currently denouncing the illegal changing of the titles to the lands from social (communal) to private as a means to evict the original inhabitants. The FPDT are currently involved in a legal struggle to reverse this procedure. Members of the group were physically attacked by hired thugs, resulting in fifteen people being wounded.
The violence and the threat to their lands has never gone away. Now they are asking for our help again.
The struggle and resistance of the people of San Salvador Atenco is symbolic of struggles going on throughout Mexico and Latin America, where the indigenous peoples are defending their lands, their mother earth, against megaprojects being set up by their governments for the benefit of transnational corporations. They are struggling for land, life, freedom, for communal and collective values.
“The land is not for sale. She is to be loved and defended.”
They know they succeeded before because they had worldwide support. Again, they say:
“We need the hands of everyone”
The UK Connection:
The architect: The design for the airport has 2 chief architects; one of these is Norman Foster, also known as Lord/Baron Foster of Thamesbank. Norman Foster, as well as being a very famous architect, is British, with his company’s headquarters conveniently situated close to the Thames in Central London:
Foster + Partners, Riverside, 22 Hester Road, London SW11 4AN
T: +44 (0)20 7738 0455
F: +44 (0)20 7738 1107
Perhaps he doesn’t know the history of blood, rape, years of illegal imprisonment and misery; perhaps he doesn’t know how many people the airport will displace. Perhaps we should tell him.
The engineering consultants, supervising the master plan for the airport:
Much of the project is hidden behind government secrecy, but according to El Financiero, the consultants and technical specialists for the new airport are the ARUP Group, whose British CEO is Sir Gregory Hodkinson, and whose headquarters is also conveniently situated in Central London:
13 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 4BQ,
T+44 (0) 20 7636 1531 firstname.lastname@example.org
They also have offices in many UK cities, including:
225 Bath Street, Glasgow, G2 4GZ
T+44 (0) 141 332 8534 email@example.com
63 St Thomas Street, Bristol, BS1 6JZ
T+44 (0) 117 976 5432 firstname.lastname@example.org
6th Floor, Three Piccadilly Place, Manchester, M1 3BN
T+44 (0) 161 228 2331 email@example.com
What to do:
*Inform yourselves – see the links below
*Share the news – the situation is urgent – through all your networks
*Contact other groups
*Write to Norman Foster and Gregory Hodkinson
*Organise a protest or an action at one of the offices above. Link up with others!
*Organise a video screening
Current situation: http://multimedia.telesurtv.net/web/telesur/#!en/video/interviews-from-mexico-282557
FPDT blog (in Spanish): http://atencofpdt.blogspot.mx/
Latest information in English: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/tag/atenco/