Action alert – resisting construction of new airport in Mexico City

ACTION ALERT: A new appeal from residents and groups resisting construction of a new airport in Mexico City

AMBITION, CORRUPTION, FOOLISHNESS, IMPOSITION, PLUNDER, AGGRESSION, IRRESPONSIBLE DEBT AND COLLECTIVE IRREVERSIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, ARE THE CONSTANTS IN PRELIMINARY WORKS FOR THE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT OF THE NEW AIRPORT IN MEXICO CITY.

In order to start the construction of the New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) on the bed of the historic Texcoco Lake, several associated works have been developed, such as highways, railway, river canalization and land granting for industrial parks, housing units and shopping areas. Likewise, new roads are being opened in farmland ejidos and on the banks of the San Juan and Papalotla rivers, which has involved removal of a large number of mature trees to expand the already existing rural roads and allow the entry of thousands of trucks and trailers which introduce materials such as volcanic rock (tezontle), teyolote, tepetate and stone extracted from the destruction of hills throughout Mexico’s Valley, in an attempt to replace the lake natural soil, destroying its nature, its biodiversity and its regulatory function of temperature (Climate Change), rain water and runoff from the higher parts of the Valley; in addition to affecting the residents of nearby communities, stripping them of their property and demolishing their houses, causing a forced displacement of families, destroying their patrimony and putting at risk their food, housing and economic security.

In addition, sprinkler irrigation network systems are being installed on the ejidos, that reach the perimeter of works prior to the construction of the New Airport as the perimeter wall, pretending to be in support of farmers but which in reality aim to deprive communities of the irrigation water flow from wells to benefit developers of housing, industrial, hotel, commercial, etc., as well as impacting parceled grounds of the river side communities.

In a very few days, were have witnessed and documented the drastic landscape alteration in the area of Texcoco Lake by the works for the New Airport, mainly due to indiscriminate tree cutting, the introduction of pipelines, houses demolition, destruction of wells for agricultural irrigation, the canalization of rivers, the severe ecological damage caused by the construction of the highway Mexico-Tuxpan in the section Ecatepec – Pyramids–Peñon-Texcoco and the development of railroad tracks that is expected to accelerate the introduction of thousands of tons of stone materials from the devastation of the hills, which daily are transported and emptied to cover the fertile soil, vegetation, and the water patches of the lake, destroying life of endemic plants and animal species, the cultivation of healthy food and ancestral nutritional treasures such as Spirulina, the sanctuary of migratory birds, the remnants of the prehistoric remains considered by renowned archaeologists unique in the world and the tranquility and subsistence means of the native population today being attacked, intimidated and submitted through the use of public force and the PRI paramilitary group “antorcha campesina”.

For over 4 years, our non-partisan and anti-capitalist organizational effort, a member of the Indigenous National Congress-CNI, of the Global Action against Airport Projects and Aviation Expansion and the World Social Forum-FSM, has conducted forums, colloquiums, seminars, cultural festivals, itinerant work meetings, press conferences, radio interviews, videos and publications that contribute to the spreading of the problem and to sensitize the population on the infeasibility and illegality of this mega-project of death, as well as the real very high risk of hydric system collapse and the affectation level throughout the Valley and center region of the country, including Mexico city.

While in countries of the first world, their airports have only 2 runways and Austria celebrates the final cancellation decision of the Vienna airport third runway on the basis of the fight against climate change, the New Airport in Mexico is projected to have 6 runways, so that while some function others undergo maintenance, which explains the folly and interest to do so in the Texcoco Lake, for the benefit of companies linked to the large transnational conglomerates involved in the project and to political power groups.

We make an urgent appeal to all society sectors in Mexico, Latin America and the rest of the world, to massively pronounce in defense of life and heritage of Texcoco Lake and of the peoples and communities that depend on it; because as people we cannot agree on such a project that is due to decisions of the high corruption in Mexico, that could even point to shady dealings and that should not be built in any part of our country.
June 14, 2017.

PLEASE SUPPORT APPEAL

You can help us to stop the largest ecocide in Mexico and Latin America by sending letters, e-mails and twitters and/or making phone calls to responsible government instances, to demand the definitive cancellation of this mega-project of death.

Because the life and nature are above the interest of money and alleged jobs…
NO! TO THE UNNECESSARY, ECOCIDAL AND UNAFFORDABLE
NEW MEXICO CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Enrique Peña Nieto, President of México, Los Pinos, Parque Lira s/n, Col. Chapultepec 1ª sección, Deleg. Miguel Hidalgo, 11850 CdMx, 0052-55 5093-53-00, 01-800 080-11-27, enrique.penanieto@presidencia.gob.mx, @EPN y @PresidenciaMX

Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Secretary of the Interior, Bucareli #99, Col. Juárez, 66000 CdMx, 0052-55 5728-74-00, 55 5728-73-00 Secretary ext. 32401 and Citizen Attention Module ext. 34397, secretario@segob.gob.mx, @osoriochong

Gerardo Ruíz Esparza, Communications and Transport Secretary, Xola and Universidad s/n, cuerpo C, floor 1, Col. Narvarte, Deleg. Benito Juárez, 03020 CdMx, 0052-55 5723-93-00, 01-800 888-10-13 Secretary exts. 10402, 10403, secretario@sct.gob.mx, buzon_ucg@sct.gob.mx, @gruizesp y @SCT_mx

Rafael Pacchiano Alamán, Environement and Natural Resources Secretary, Ejército Nacional #223, Floor 22, side B,  Col. Anáhuac, 11320 CdMx, Direct Secretary 0052-55 5628-06-02 to 05, Commutator 0052-55 5624-33-00 and 55 5490-09-00, Private Secretary exts. 10905 and 12076, c.secretario@semarnat.gob.mx, rafael.pacchiano@semarnat.gob.mx, fernanda.romo@semarnat.gob.mx, atencion.ciudadana@semarnat.gob.mx  @RafaelPacchiano

Roberto Ramírez de la Parra, National Water Commission Director -CONAGUA, Insurgentes Sur #2416, Copilco el Bajo, 04340 CdMx, 0052-55 5174-40-00 and 01-800 2662-482, http://www.gob.mx/conagua, @RobRmzdelaParra and @conagua_mx

Federico Patiño Márquez, México City Airport Group (Director del Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de México, S.A. de C.V.),  Floor 2-Oficina 203, Insurgentes Sur #2453, San Ángel, 01090 CdMx, mark from a cell pone to Commutator 0052 55 9001-40-00,  Managing Director 0052 55 9001-40-01, Citizen Attention Module 0052 55 9001-40-02, dirección.general@gacm.mx,  @FedericoPatiño_

Miguel Ángel Mancera Espinosa, México City Governor, Plaza de la Constitución #1, planta baja, Col. Centro, Deleg. Cuauhtémoc, CdMx, Citizen Attention Module 0052 55 5345-80-00 ext. 1263 and General Coordination of Citizen Attention ext. 1460, jefaturadegobierno@cdmx.gob.mx, @ManceraMiguelMX, @ManceraConecta y @GobCDMX

Eruviel Ávila Villegas, Mexico State Governor, Palace of the Executive Power, Lerdo Pte.#300, PB door 216, Toluca downtown, State of Mexico, 0052 72 2276-00-51, eruviel.avila@edomex.gob.mx, @eruviel_avila, @Gestion_Eruviel y @edomex

Andrés Ruíz Méndez (PRI-antorcha campesina), Atenco Municipal President, State of Mexico, 27 de septiembre St. s/n, cabecera municipal, 0052 595 95 3-65-06, atencopres.2016@gmail.com, @Andres_Atenco

Higinio Martínez Miranda (MORENA), Texcoco Municipal President, Nezahualcóyotl St. #22, Texcoco centro, State of Mexico, 0052 595 95 2-00-00 ext. 2006 y 2004, secretaria.particular@texcoco.gob.mx,  @higinio_mtz

Rosalba Pineda Ramírez, Chimalhuacan Municipal President (PRI-antorcha campesina) I. Zaragoza Square s/n, cabecera municipal, 0052 55 5852-57-71 and 0052 55 5852-57-72 ext. 104, http://chimalhuacan.gob.mx/gobierno_direccion?DR=2, @Rosalba_PinedaR

NON-PARTIES WIDE FRONT vs. THE NEW AIRPORT AND OTHER MEGA-PROJECTS IN MEXICO’S VALLEY ORIGINAL INHABITANTS AND NGO’s  EASTERN STATE OF MEXICO COORDINATION IN DEFENSE OF LAND, WATER AND CULTURE

Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México

Facebook – @CPOOEM_Edomex

Youtube: Coordinadora de Pueblos del Oriente Edomex

Photos by Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México:

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1) Current View of Lake Texcoco and migratory birds
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2) The advance of the devastation on the vegetation and the lake, in the background the Cerro de Chiconauhtla threatened in principle with cut it lower 40 meters in height by clogging the overflight of aircraft but could be blown up and pillaged in its entirety.
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3) Indiscriminate felling of trees by staff of the companies hired by the Grupo Aeroportuario, introduction of pipelines, transit of trucks and trailers.
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4) Machinery in the area of Texcoco Lake, implementation of a white powder (chemicals) to the fertile land.
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5) Recent View of Texcoco Lake, migratory birds and in the background the perimeter fence of the New Airport which is adjacent to the highway Peñón-Texcoco to which are intending to connect the expressway Mexico-Tuxpan highway in its tier Ecatepec-Piramides-Peñón-Texcoco by dividing communities, dispossession them and destroying everything in its path: arable land, agricultural irrigation wells, trees, animals, etc.

 

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Peña Nieto’s airport in Atenco and Texcoco poses Serious Threat of Flooding

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Peña Nieto’s airport in Atenco and Texcoco poses Serious Threat of Flooding

dsc_0570Flooded communal land in the Ejido Nexquipayac, Atenco. Photo: Sergio Grajales Ventura

By Sergio Grajales Ventura

The construction of the New International Airport of Mexico City (or as known by its initials in Spanish – NAICM) in the towns of Atenco and Texcoco poses a great risk of flooding, not just for the communities in the area, but for all of the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico. Additionally, land subsidence will accelerate, surface run-off will increase and the region’s most important regulatory reservoir, the former Lake Texcoco, would be destroyed.

I. Over-exploitation of water and subsidence

In a previous issues of El Salinero, we reported that in 2001 the Autonomous National University of Mexico’s PUMA programme (the University Programme for the Environment or in Spanish, “Programa Universitario de Medio Ambiente”) predicts that as early as 2020…

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International communique against the New Mexico City Airport

dorset chiapas solidarity

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International communique against the New Mexico City Airport

EMERGENCE OF A BROAD NON-PARTY FRONT AGAINST THE NEW AIRPORT AND OTHER MEGAPROJECTS IN THE VALLEY OF MEXICO BASIN

Mexico City, 4 February 2016

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In response to the announcement by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto to reactivate the construction of a new airport for Mexico City, more than 70 organizations of organized society in the East of the State of Mexico, Hidalgo state, the Federal District and the rest of the country during the Forum “All Voices against New Airport” and the Constituent Assembly on 10 and 11 November 2015 at the Ché Guevara Auditorium located next to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM, agreed to the creation of a Broad Front with a horizontal and inclusive structure, with an autonomous and self-managed character, whose main objectives are to defend the territory and to prevent the construction…

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“The project of the NAICM will lead to water shortage” Vandana Shiva in Atenco

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“The project of the NAICM will lead to water shortage” Vandana Shiva in Atenco

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Desinformémonos

Mexico City. 14 August 2016. “At some point it will lead to a water shortage” said Vandana Shiva and Sebastiao Pinheiro during their visit to Atenco yesterday.   With members of the Peoples Front in Defence of Land (FPDT) they toured the lands of Atenco that the government intends to dispossess in order to be part of the new airport in Mexico City (NAICM).  They arrived early in the camp that is located in the area where they intend to build one of the access roads.

Vandana, winner of the alternative Nobel prize for the environment, asked Mexicans not to allow life to be exterminated and to come to support the movement of the FPDT and all those who oppose the construction of the airport in these lands.

Meanwhile, members of the FPDT told the environmentalists that in these lands they grow crops of pumpkins, olives, corn…

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Massive Mexico City airport would be a disaster

It would spur privatized highway construction, destroy farming communities, increase flooding and urban sprawl, and line the pockets of contractors.

hazard pic 1Mexican police forces invade ejidal lands in San Salvador Atenco near Mexico City where campesinos have resisted the expropriation of their lands for a controversial new airport. 

This article  was written by Johnny Hazard and originally published on The Rag Blog on 10th May 2016. It is republished with permission. 

A special report

MEXICO CITY — The federal government of Mexico has begun a project to build a new airport, one of the biggest in the world, in a country where the vast majority of the people have never flown. This project threatens to:

  • spur construction of 16 to 19 new highways in the Mexico City-Toluca-Texcoco metropolitan area(s), all privatized from their inception, increasing dependence on the automobile in an area where car ownership has more than doubled in 10 years. Almost all toll roads in Mexico are privately constructed and owned but publicly subsidized. Giveaways of public money to corporations is the raison de’etre of most of the world’s new airport construction;
  • increase CO2 emissions (from the planes themselves and from cars and buses that would go much farther than before to get to the airport) in one of the most polluted cities in the world;
  • line the pockets of contractors, construction companies, and “starchitects”;
  • increase the risks of flooding and exacerbate the drying of lakes and rivers;
  • damage or destroy what remains of the farming communities around Mexico City and Texcoco;
  • increase suburban sprawl (result of all of the above).

As campesinos of Atenco prepared to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the state and federal attack on their town as revenge for their having defeated the first proposal to build an airport on their farm lands, a skirmish occurred on April 12 (see photo) in which surveyors were escorted onto the lands by a small group of soldiers and a tanqueta (mini-tank). Atenco residents ran them off, removed the surveying stakes, and set up a permanent camp on a local hill.

hazard pic 2The ejido of Atenco, with the suburb of Ecatepec in the distance. Photos courtesy of high school students in solidarity with Atenco, except where otherwise indicated.”

“Infrastructure” is the mantra of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and his state and local counterparts of other political parties. But they’re not talking about water (unless it’s to divert it toward golf courses and breweries), much less schools: what’s hot now is to offer “incentives” to construct private highways, high rise buildings, and airports.

In Mexico City a small percentage of the population has the funds to pay for a plane ticket.

In Mexico City, where a small percentage of the population has the funds to pay for a plane ticket, the construction of a new airport is all the rage (among politicians, executives and media owners). A second terminal at the current site is less than 10 years old; the existing airport is served by existing highways, other thoroughfares, the subway, and confined-lane buses, and underwent a recent remodeling job.

hazard pic 3Cyclists protest plans for the airport. Image from Nosotros defendemos a la madre tierra.

When Vicente Fox took office as the country’s first opposition president since the Revolution — he’s since allied himself with the ruling PRI — he attempted to build an airport on communally-held lands in Atenco, outside of Texcoco. (Texcoco is a city of about 100,000 people, about 25 miles northeast of Mexico City. Atenco is an adjacent farming community of about 20,000 people.) Fox’s airport proposal sparked a campesino uprising that damaged his presidency to the point that he had to cancel the project in 2002.

But now, the retooled airport project has become the centerpiece of Peña Nieto’s attempt to salvage his own presidency after government-inflicted human rights atrocities like that of the 43 education students who disappeared in September 2014, in Iguala, Guerrero, and economic scandals like his and his associates’ acquisition of mansions with “loans” from a firm, Higa, that has been favored in no-bid highway and train construction contracts. Higa built and paid for mansions for Angélica Rivera, the wife of Peña Nieto, and Luis Videgaray, a top cabinet official.

Another firm, OHL, based in Spain but which makes lots of its money in Mexico, is accused of massive fraud in Mexico, where it’s tied to the ruling party, the PRI, and in Spain, where it’s also tied to the right-wing governing party, Partido Popular. Recordings in which one OHL executive accuses others, and the company, of fraud were released last year. Around the same time, other recordings revealed that OHL paid for the vacations, in Spain, of the state secretary of transportation and his family.

hazard pic 4Proposed Mexico City airport design by Fernando Romero and Norman Foster. Image from eVolo.

The company’s stock fell in both countries. In an attempt to cut losses, OHL México sold some assets to an Australian pension fund and other curious buyers. OHL now controls contracts for some of the new airport-related freeways mentioned above and recently revamped its board of directors to include people from the airport authority. The government, instead of cancelling contracts, arranged to have the journalists who denounced this fraud fired. (Carmen Aristegui, dismissed from three radio stations over the years, maintains her program on CNN Español where she filed this report on the subject.)

In May 2006, police raided the town of Atenco and raped, beat, and detained residents.

The farmers, farm workers, and allies who prevented the airport from being built in the first years of this century paid a heavy price for their victory: In May 2006, state and federal police raided the town of Atenco and, according to dozens of witnesses and various human rights organizations, raped, beat, and detained residents and visitors including the Chilean cinema student Valentina Palma, who was sexually assaulted, beaten, and immediately deported. She was about to graduate from film school in Mexico but has not been able to return. Forty-seven women alleged sexual assault; no one has ever been punished.

hazard pic 5A dirt road within the ejido.

After mass detentions, Ignacio del Valle, one of the most visible leaders of the anti-airport movement, was sentenced to 102 years in prison, and 10 others received sentences of 30 years. All were released amid public pressure after four years. This police action was a bipartisan collaboration between the outgoing president, Fox, and an up-and-coming governor named Enrique Peña Nieto.

While many were captured and imprisoned, others went into hiding; del Valle’s daughter, América, was eventually able to put herself out of danger by seeking asylum at the Venezuelan embassy.

While the activists were indisposed, new president Felipe Calderón discreetly revived the airport project. (This was against the advice of cabinet member, hydraulic engineer, and former PAN official Jose Luis Luege, who supported a plan to reconstitute the parts of Lake Texcoco that have been dried. The PAN is Partido de Acción Nacional, the conservative party of Fox and Calderón.)

As Ignacio del Valle stated at a recent forum at the Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México: “the violation that many women of Atenco suffered of the most sacred rights of a human being is something that we don’t forget and we don’t pardon. But we don’t hate. In spite of having been tortured in prison, I don’t hate the oppressors.”

Del Valle adds that the Atenco campesinos organized as Frente de los Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra hope that people will come out to protest during the 10th anniversary of the attack, “not to call us pobrecitos, but to express indignation with us.”

San Salvador Atenco is the “cabecera municipal” of a group of pueblos that include Atenco, Acuexcómoc, Nexquipayac, and others. Behind them is a vast unspoiled area that contains ejidos — communal farmland. The ejido is a figure of the Mexican revolution of 1910-1917 and was an attempt to redistribute land stolen by the pre-revolutionary president Porfirio Díaz and his cronies through a de facto slavery system.

“Our ancestors were peones on the haciendas in this area,” del Valle explains. And before that, pre-colonial, indigenous farmers: Alicia, an older woman in the Atenco community who has a third-grade education and often speaks at public forums, evokes the indigenous roots of Atenco: “This is not a battle. It’s a struggle for our mother earth.”

Campesinos move between the towns and the fields on old bikes.

Campesinos move between the towns and the fields on old bikes to which they strap shovels or machetes. The ejido of Atenco, one of three in the area, has 2,500 hectares on which around 300 people work full-time and others farm in addition to their other occupations — manual in most cases, though there are a few teachers and a dentist.

hazard pic 6Field of cilantro, irrigated.

We visited El Cilantrero, the Cilantro Man, bearer of a Mexican tradition in which people are known by nicknames and almost no one knows their real names. He cultivates seven hectares of cilantro and spinach. This may sound like a hobby farm in U.S. terms, but it’s enough for him and three workers to live on. In 2001, the government under Fox offered seven pesos per square meter for the land that it intended to expropriate. Now the offer has increased exponentially and some have succumbed.

(The ejido system began to be destroyed, quasi-privatized, during the regime of Carlos Salinas in the 1990s in a move, similar to the Indian Allotment Act of 1924 in the U.S., to weaken collective traditions and open land up to settlers and speculators.) Ignacio del Valle remembers 2001: “We never felt that we were poor because we lived in an environment in which nobody had to steal; everybody contributed beans, hogs, etc. That tranquility was broken on October 22,” the day that the Fox administration decreed the expropriation of the ejido of Atenco (which means “on the lake shore” in the Náhuatl language).

A rigged assembly of the ejido took place in June 2014. Goons with no connection to Atenco posed as members of the ejido and hundreds of state police assured that no one would challenge them. The president of the ejido, Andrés Ruíz Méndez, now mayor of Atenco and a local leader of the PRI, called the meeting in a private location with electric fencing and railroaded a vote in favor of selling off the ejido to the federal government in this manner. The assembly lasted 15 minutes.

Fabiola Gutiérrez Quiroz reported on this assembly in Spanish in the alternative newspaper desinformémonos.

Many archaeological treasures are threatened by airport construction.

As Don Rodrigo, a local farmer and member of the movement, showed us the fields from the main hill of Atenco, four men appeared in a pick-up. “We came to see the lizard.” Someone showed them a stone in the shape of a lizard, about eight feet long and with hieroglyphics, one of many archaeological treasures threatened by airport construction. “This is where they want to put the runways,” Rodrigo said. About 50 feet away is “La silla de Nezahualcóyotl,” a rock shaped like a bench where Nezahualcóyotl (“Hungry Wolf”), also known as“the Poet King” — el Rey Poeta — sat and looked out at the valley. He reigned a century before the arrival of the Spanish in 1521and was one of the engineers responsible for the construction of some of the most sophisticated hydraulic and irrigation systems of that era.

The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), a government agency ostensibly charged with historical and cultural preservation, concedes that in Atenco there are stone artifacts that date from 8,000 ACE to 700 CE and that there is evidence of the presence of mammoths from the same period. Local activists maintain that there are 1,000 indigenous archaeological sites in Atenco alone. Anthropologists based in Mexico City who ask not to be identified allege that even in the early phases of construction and surveying, crews found and immediately destroyed indigenous artifacts and that the INAH pretended not to notice.

hazard pic 7Nopales grow on one of the hills from which Atenco residents protect their land.

Atenco borders on Texcoco, Ecatepec (an industrialized, highly polluted suburb), and the northeastern part of Mexico City. Lake Texcoco, one of seven lakes in the metropolitan area, dominated this zone until, immediately after the conquest, the Spanish began their ecocidal practices of drying lakes and rivers, thinking that by doing so they controlled flooding.

Farmers predict that the paving of this area will aggravate flooding.

Atenco farmers predict that the paving of this area, one of the few green spaces left within an hour of Mexico City, will aggravate flooding in the city by further increasing hardscape. And local scientists with an organization called Ciéntificos Comprometidos con la Sociedad (Scientists Committed to Society) share this belief and cite a suspicious environmental impact statement that gave a fast-track authorization, at Christmastime, to the project based partly on “neighbor” interviews with residents of Ecatepec, but not of Atenco or Texcoco.

The scientific organization adds that the project violates the regional development plan for greater Texcoco, which mandates the promotion of agricultural activities and prohibits construction over the basin of Lake Texcoco, an official protected natural area.

Similarly, Grupo Aeroportuario de la Ciudad de México and Guinness report that the airport will contain the world’s largest parking lot, supplanting that of the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, and offering 20,000 parking places.

The scientists’ group also sounds the alarm about a vague plan to construct an “Aerotrópolis,” an airport city that would include this parking lot and a host of convention and hospitality facilities so that a visit to Mexico would be limited to that area. When the Secretariat of Natural Resources approved the airport project, it “gave a blank check” to this and other aspects whose characteristics are unclear.

The environmental impact statement doesn’t indicate how big the airport city would be, but the Scientists Committed to Society estimate that it would require 3.5 million cubic meters and that it would consume 23 million cubic meters of water per year. “Starchitect” Norman Foster claims the airport project would be self-sufficient in terms of water. He also plans to put a giant tarpaulin under the airport site, and at the same time to elevate it onto a platform to prevent the airport from sinking. (Texcoco is one of the most-rapidly sinking parts of the center of the country.) At the same time, residents of Texcoco, Atenco, and other nearby communities wonder where the projected 125,000 workers will live.

(There is a detailed analysis of the project in Spanish, based on the study of Scientíficos Comprometidos con la Sociedad, in the independent newspaper desinformémonos.)

As a few ejido members cashed their expropriation checks, members of the underworld smelled their money.

Atenco residents speak of how, as a few ejido members cashed their expropriation checks, members of the underworld smelled their money and kidnappings, a previously-unknown phenomenon in the area — Texcoco is one of the safest cities in the state — began to occur. Residents fear what could happen if the project continues and boom town nightmares such as those that have happened in Alberta and North Dakota materialize: exponential growth of towns, environmental devastation, huge influx of young males and concomitant alcohol abuse and sexual violence.

Fox called this land “sterile” and “almost desert” to justify its planned destruction. Atenco residents now grow more than before in what they call an act of resistance, to prove that the land is fertile. Cilantro, lima beans, corn, wheat, spinach, and asparagus are some of the plants they grow for subsistence, sale, and to give away to occasional visitors.

As we left the town and headed into the ejido, Rodrigo said that the area is full of little rivers and showed us two. Over one of them there is a simple, one-lane bridge built recently by local residents with no government assistance. They embedded a machete into the pavement. These are “farm implements, not weapons,”* activists are fond of saying since 2001 when their marches into Mexico City, machetes held high, scandalized the respectable citizenry.


He told us that one of these rivers, now about two feet wide, is destined to be buried by one of the new highways. In the pueblo of Tezoyuca the government began in October to demolish houses, usually without warning, to make room to widen a now-modest highway. (See photographs of this Grapes of Wrath-style demolition of the home of a 71-year-old man in the nearby town of Tezoyuca in the video above.)

Most residents of the Mexico City area who have the purchasing power to buy plane tickets live in or beyond the south and west of the city — exactly opposite of Texcoco, which is about 25 miles northeast of the center of the city. From Tlalpan, a densely populated middle-to-upper income area in the southwest of the city, to Texcoco or Atenco is about two hours by car or in mass transit (buses and trains, making at least three transfers).

One of the reasons that some neighbors support the airport project is, of course, the promise of jobs — as if United Airlines were going to go door to door in low-income, rural communities asking who’s ready to work as a pilot, air traffic controller, or bilingual interpreter. In February, the CROC, a federation of hack unions controlled by the PRI, blocked two highways that serve Texcoco or Atenco for most of a day because the government was not honoring promises to channel jobs to their members.

The contractors

Architect Norman Foster of England recently found one of his airport designs rejected in London. And another London project, to expand Heathrow from two to three runways, is  a subject of constant protest, as George Monbiot has reported in The Guardian in a column in which he refers to the Heathrow 13 who chained themselves to block an existing runway and were found not guilty; Monbiot calls them heroes, not hooligans.

Norman Foster: New International Airport for Mexico City RIBA, Nov 2015 from urbanomex on Vimeo.

The Mexico City airport is projected to have six runways, making it the biggest in the Americas and one of the three biggest in the world. (Some of the other mega airports, such as the one in Dubai, are also Foster-designed. And much of his work has been in oil-rich emirates. See his efforts at greenwashing and self-aggrandizement in the video above.)

One of the main contractors participated in the ‘rebuilding’ of Iraq.

One of the main contractors, Parsons of Pasadena, California, participated in the “rebuilding” of Iraq as part of the U.S. occupying force beginning in 2003, along with companies like Halliburton and Bechtel. But, having accepted acting as accomplice to this U.S. violation of Iraqi sovereignty, Parsons also defrauded the U.S. government and the neocolonial government of Iraq by not building the more than 100 clinics and hospitals it was paid for.

“They also build prisons,” as critical pedagogue and area resident Peter McLaren commented after having looked into Parsons at my request; it appears that for these, the completion rate is higher. Parsons describes itself as “an engineering, construction, technical, and management services firm with revenues of $3.2 billion in 2015. Parsons is a leader in many diversified markets with a focus on infrastructure, industrial, federal, and construction.” (Sic.)

High-speed or other rail alternatives

It’s curious, though not surprising, that a proposed train to Querétaro was halted, due to accusations of corruption and that the airport, with much more potential for environmental devastation and with the same corrupt parties involved, receives little criticism or scrutiny.

Almost all passenger trains in Mexico were eliminated in the 1990s during a phase of the ongoing privatization push under then-president Ernesto Zedillo. A conventional train could get to Querétaro in two hours instead of the highway time of three hours; the cancelled or suspended train would have done it in one hour and would be the gateway to Guadalajara, Monterrey, Laredo (San Antonio, Austin, Dallas), Zacatecas, Leon, Aguascalientes and most of the northern half of the country, thus making it unnecessary to fly to such destinations.

All these cities except the ones in Texas could be reached in less than five hours, much less in some cases, by high-speed rail, and much of the demand for domestic and even international air travel could be supplanted by rail. One rail project is underway: a train from Mexico City to Toluca, the capital of Mexico State, which is now reachable in an hour or more by bus and will reportedly take 39 minutes on the new train, which, like the airport, is immune to recent across-the-board budget cuts.

This train could easily be expanded to Morelia, Lázaro Cárdenas, and the beach towns of Zihuatenejo and Ixtapa, eliminating still more plane trips and offering a good alternative to bus and car transportation toward the west. And Toluca, coincidentally, has a new and under-used airport and is close to the parts of Mexico City where the richest people live.

*Machetes are, in fact, used in all of Mexico for farming and for landscaping in cities; they can be bought at small farm implement stores and even at Wal Mart, but sensationalist media insist on associating them with violence.

Army Invades the Ejidal Lands of San Salvador Atenco

The Mexican army invaded ejidal (communal) lands of Atenco, where communities have resisted land expropriation for an airport for more than a decade. The military convoy was escorting a party of workers from one of the companies contracted to construct the airport. The community of Atenco has begun daily patrols to prevent further intrusion into ejido lands and is calling for international solidarity.

dorset chiapas solidarity

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Army Invades the Ejidal Lands of San Salvador Atenco

atenco invade 

In the morning of April 12, while the police forces of the State of Mexico continued advancing at the other end of the state, in San Francisco Xochicuautla, a convoy of military entered the ejidal lands of the community of San Salvador Atenco to escort a gang of workers from one of the private companies in charge of the construction of the new airport in Mexico City.

Community members who have resisted the expropriation of their lands for more than ten years told Desinformémonos that the day before, April 11, an official of the company had already arrived in the communal lands, at the base of Cerro Huatepec, with the intention to “carry our measurements.” Facing the intrusion, villagers moved in and responded.

“The compañerxs told them that they could not be on communal lands because we are in…

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Leaflet distributed at the Climate March today by groups from the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

Landholders of San Salvador Atenco, Mexico, successfully resisted plans to build a mega-airport on farmlands in 2001. In 2006, the government punished the community with a brutal police raid. The propject was revived, even larger than before, in 2014. Resistance continues, and UK based Dorset Chiapas Solidarity is urging people to write to the two UK firms that have been contracted as the airport’s architect and engineering consultant.

dorset chiapas solidarity

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Leaflet distributed at the Climate Change March in Edinburgh

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Defending their lands and opposing the new airport in Mexico City

On the front line of Blockadia, resisting climate change

Solidarity with the people of San Salvador Atenco

British companies are involved

Take action!

In her book THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING – CAPITALISM VS THE CLIMATE, Naomi Klein writes of the central importance of Blockadia.  She describes how round the globe local people are taking direct action to resist extreme extractive industries and mega-projects which cause great damage to the environment and contribute significantly to climate change.  One such struggle is happening now in Mexico.

atenco

In 2001, the indigenous common landholders of San Salvador Atenco 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…

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