Energy Reform in Mexico may displace campesino communities
By Mercedes López Martínez
The Mexican Senate approved amendments to the secondary legislation governing energy reform, a decision that has been challenged by independent farmers groups as it threatens the collective ownership of land, instituted in the country after the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
With these reforms, the government of Enrique Peña Nieto threatens collective ownership rights by promoting a policy that gives priority to transnational corporations on the communal land of farmers and indigenous people. These communities could soon face the threat of oil and gas fields, mines and electrical installations on their land. As a response to protests, the Senate switched out the term “expropriation” for “temporary occupation,” which changes little, since both are compulsory.
The government’s priority is to attract foreign investment in Mexico, regardless of the political, economic, social or environmental costs. For example, through reforms to the National Water Act, private companies have been granted the control of various aquifers and right to use millions of gallons of water in fracking.
The farmers’ groups demand: respect for land ownership, the reallocation of resources to reinvest in campesino communities and the modification of energy reform laws.
If we continue on this path, the destruction of the campo, which began with the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, will be complete. Instead of strengthening the Mexican farmers’ role in the generation of healthy food and the conservation of land and water resources, the government has permitted private companies to strip the land of its resources and fertility and undermine its caretakers. If we continue on this path we will leave behind a trail of poverty, violence, and environmental catastrophes.