Representantives of dozens of ejidos (agricultural collectives) in the northern zone of Mexico’s Chiapas state issued a statement denouncing the approval of illegal sales of collective lands. The protesters, mostly Chol Maya from the municipalities of Tila and Salto de Agua, acused the federal Certification Program for Eijdo Rights and Land Titles (PROCEDE) of skirting regulations by approving sales which had not been agreed upon by all collective members, as required by law. The statement said the illegal sales have “left entire families without their patrimony.”
The affected communities include Usipá, La Preciosa, El Limar, Tila, Jolaco, Cruz Palenque, Nuevo Limar, El Calvario, Lucero, Jochintieol, Susucumil, Miguel Alemán, La Cascada, Chuctejá, Masojá Grande and Masojá Schujá. (La Jornada, April 8)
The protest comes as related conflicts in the Lacandon rainforest of Chiapas, stronghold of the Zapatista rebels, have already come to violence. Government talks with the Zapatistas have been at a standstill for years. The long-stalled Zapatista peace plan was to address precisely these issues, by giving indigenous peoples constitutional autonomy on their own lands.
On April 3, Luis H. Alvarez, head of President Felipe Calderón’s Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), told reporters that “the Zapatista National Liberation Army is not the intermediary” for the Calderón government’s relationship with Mexico’s indigenous peoples, and does not represent them. (La Jornada, April 3)