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May 28, 17

Mexico: Community Stops Logging, Builds Encampment in Morelos

Since March, six private companies hired by the Ministry of Communications and Transportation have been leveling trees in the National Protected Area of Tepozteco National Park. However, beginning on Monday, May 15, the deforestation and subsequent ecocide accelerated at an unconscionable rate. Given the situation, the organized community of Tepoztlán in a public assembly agreed to block the main access to the town and go to the work site to stop the machines.

Members of the Youth Front in Defense of Tepoztlán told Desinformémonos: “Since Monday, they started to indiscriminately cut down trees. We assume this is because they just approved a new legal injunction from the two that we submitted against the highway. It appears they sped up the deforestation before they receive notification. Work here started several weeks ago because the Supreme Court (SCJN) ruling on the last injunction was not in our favor. Now two more injunctions have been filed, with one already approved.”

On Friday, May 19, the deforestation almost reached the center of Tepoztlán. “We’re not sure how many trees they knocked down, but initially we have counted 2,825 trees total,” said members of the Front in Defense of Tepoztlán who know the work are spans from Kilometer 0 in La Pera to Kilometer 20 +700 at the Huacalco toll booth.

On Friday, May 19, activists led by Larissa de Orbe gathered at PROFEPA (Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection) to lodge a popular demand. They were treated very badly. First, they closed the doors of the institution, then after much struggle, they were permitted to pass, but they set the police on them, recalled the residents of Tepozteco.

On Friday afternoon they convened an assembly in the town square (zócalo) of Tepoztlán, as they have been doing for more than four years. With a large attendance and much indignation for what was occurring, the Tepoztec residents decided in the public assembly to build an encampment at the entrance to the town and to go and halt the machines.

In the early morning of Saturday, May 20, they gathered at the roundabout to start the encampment, which remains ongoing, and issued a call to all residents to attend to the emergency: “We act now or our community, culture, and traditions end. Those who view Tepoztlán as a business will NOT pass,” they stressed.

Upon going to the logging site in order to stop the machines and warn the workers to stop doing it, the workers got in the trucks owned by the contracted companies and fled.

“We’re now concerned with protecting the bigger trees which have not been cleared yet, like the fig and cypress trees,” said members of the Youth Front in Defense of Tepoztlán.

Local authorities such as Lauro Salazar, the mayor, and Eligio Ortego, the town’s environmental manager, came to the encampment. In a signed document, they committed themselves to holding a public town hall meeting on May 22 to address the issue of ecological damage and to demonstrate, as they mentioned at the encampment, that they are doing something to stop it.

For their part, members of the Front stated, “we’ve made it clear that this community began a legal battle in 2013, when we submitted an injunction against the expansion of the Pera-Cuautla highway in our territory’s protected natural area. As a strategy to atomize the mobilizations, the government sent the requested injunction to a court in Acapulco and within a few days they in favor of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation. We now have two injunctions pending before the court and we are on alert to prevent the return of the machines.”

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Desinformémonos is a Spanish-language news website based in Mexico. "Here we are not proposing a neutral or falsely objective journalism. We are a space below and to the left, outside of power and the powerful, for autonomy and the right of the peoples to decide their own destiny."

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