Peasant ecologists halt highway construction on Chiapas-Oaxaca border

Federal judicial authorities in Mexico have granted an injuction to a group of Zoque indigenous campesinos in the Chimalapas region straddling the border of Chiapas and Oaxaca states, halting construction of a road through their territory. The petitioners, from the village of Santa María Chimalapa, Oax., say the project undertaken by the Chiapas state government, extending the Cintalapa-Rafael Cal y Mayor highway to the Valle de Uxpanapa highway in Oaxaca, would illegally impact communal lands. Complicating the matter is that some of the impacted lands are contested between Santa María Chimalapa, which claims them as traditional communal lands, and communities on the Chiapas side of the border which claim them as ejidos (redistributed lands). “The community is ready to defend its territory and seek a solution to these ancient conflicts,” said Miguel Hernández Jacinto, comisariado of communal lands for Santa María Chimalapa. Peasant colonists from Chiapas have apparently been settling the communal forest lands, and petitioning the agrarian reform authorities for reconition as ejidos. These forests are said to protect jaguars, tapirs, tepezcuintles and other species threatened with extinction. (La Jornada, June 13)

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