Growing Fuel Instead of Food: Agro-fuels in Chiapas
“Capitalism also makes its wealth from plunder, or theft, because they take what they want from others, land, for example, and natural resources…… they also want to privatize electricity and water and the forests and everything, until nothing of Mexico is left, and our country will be a wasteland or a place of entertainment for rich people from all over the world,…..but there are Mexican men and women who are organizing and making a resistance struggle…. there are indigenous, and they are making their autonomy and defending their culture and caring for their land, forests and water” – from the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle.”
The state government promotes expansion of the cultivation of agro-fuels
In November 2008 La Jornada correspondent Hermann Bellinghausen defined ‘the four horsemen of progress’ for Chiapas: tourist development, mineral exploitation (mining), oil, and ‘biocombustibles’. The latter are commonly known in Latin America as agro-fuels, to remove any connotation of environmental benefit that ‘bio’-fuels might suggest. The four horsemen are four routes used by multinational corporations, in conjunction with the Mexican (and US) government, to steal and plunder the land and its natural resources, the rivers and forests, the mountains and valleys, and to evict and destroy the indigenous peoples, their lands and territories. It is the resistance against these four horsemen that Hermann records and celebrates with such dedication.
The article records that as part of the Mesoamerica Project, the federal and state governments had agreed to build an agro-fuel power plant in 2009, and had set aside 3000 hectares of land to grow enough Jatropha to produce 10,000 litres of fuel daily from this plant. Much of this land was in zones adjoining ecological reserves, and this scheme had generated considerable opposition, particularly from “the Zapatista autonomous municipalities, communities of the Other Campaign and other independent organisations”.