Mexico: Campeche PPP summit draws protests

Mexico, Colombia and seven Central American nations held a 24-hour summit April 10 in Campeche, issuing a nine-point plan for revitalizing the regional development alliance known as the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP). Joining Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon were the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, and the prime minister of Belize. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was represented by his vice-president, Jaime Moreno. “Latin American integration is not a dream,” President Calderón told the gathering. “As our Octavio Paz saw, it’s a reality that we’re constructing day by day.” The major achievement of the summit was an agreement to pursue a region-wide oil refinery, to be located in an as-yet undetermined Central American country. Officials said four companies have expressed interest in bidding on the project.

The project was slated to process 230,000 barrels of oil a day when it was first proposed by President Vicente Fox in 2001, but it is now scaled down to 80,000 barrels per day. Most of the oil to be refined in the planned facility will come from Mexico.

The nine PPP states also pledged to step up cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, especially along the shared borders of member nations. “We’re facing international organized crime that requires us to organize against an enemy that knows no borders,” Calderón said.

Security personnel around the summit site far outnumbered the approximately 50 who came to protest, according to El Universal. The city’s hotel zone and convention center were cordoned off by five lines of police and military troops, with reinforcements standing by in two army trucks. Sharpshooters in camouflage garb were stationed on rooftops in the zone. (El Universal, April 11)

A report from La Jornada put the number of protesters at 150, from the Broad Progressive Front (FAP) and other organizations. (La Jornada, April 11)

However, April 10 also marked the 88th anniversary of the assassination of Emiliano Zapata, and marches held in commemoration elsewhere in the country denounced the PPP. In Xalapa, capital of Veracruz state, followers of the Agrarian Indigenous Zapatista Movement, the Popular Front of Organizations of Southeast Veracruz, the Regional Council of Nahua and Nuntaj Pueblos and the “Other Campaign” held a march against the PPP. Protest leader Daniela Griego said the project would represent the “destruction of our natural resources.” (APRO, April 10)

In Chiapas, thousands marched in the capital Tuxtla Gutierrez and blocked roads throughout the state under the slogan “Por Un Nuevo Reparto Agrario” (For a New Agrarian Reform). The protests were organized by the National Front of Struggle for Socialism (FNLS) and the Chiapas State Coordinator of Autonomous Organizations. (La Jornada, April 10)

In Oaxaca, Carlos Beas Torres, leader of the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus Northern Zone (UCIZONI), an affiliate of the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the Pueblos (AMAP), told a meeting against the PPP that the only ones to profit from the project would be people like Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, “the world’s thrid richest man,” whose Grupo Carso would likely win lucrative contracts in oil and telecommunications development. He said the PPP “is not a development strategy,” but “clearly a business plan that undermines our national sovereignty.” (La Jornada, April 12)

Protests were also held in Mexico City, where campesinos from Veracruz, Oaxaca and elsewhere marched on the Government Secretariat and blocked traffic. Representatives of both radical bodies such as the Popular People’s Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) and the semi-official National Campesino Confederation (CNC) participated. (Milenio, April 10)

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