The plan, which includes a thermoelectric plant, a gas pipeline, and an aqueduct, will affect the environment and the local economy, protesters say.
The peoples are opposed and Obrador disqualifies them.
JANTETELCO, Morelos. As part of the defense of their territory, peasants and inhabitants of various towns in the eastern part of the entity blockade the Siglo XXI highway from 10 in the morning, at the height of the municipality of Jantetelco, to demand the cancellation of the Comprehensive Morelos Project (PIM).
According to them, said project, which includes a thermoelectric plant, a gas pipeline, and an aqueduct, will affect the environment, their way of life, and the local economy.
A long line of cars, cargo trucks, trailers, and other vehicles can be seen on the highway that connects the Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific Ocean, at the height of the municipality of Jantetelco, where in the 19th century the priest Mariano Matamoros was taken up arms in pursuit of the Independence of Mexico. Right here in 2012, the fuse of the movement against the PIM was lit, when the information on the thermoelectric plant and the gas pipeline became known.
Jaime Domínguez, one of the most visible leaders of the opposition movement, inhabitant of Jantetelco and winner of the Don Sergio Méndez Arceo National Human Rights Award, says with hope: “This has been going on for eight years, first it caught here, then it jumped to Amilcingo, then to Huexca… we will continue, this problem was local, then it was the state, then regional, now it is national.
For now, the mobilizations will increase, at the same time that the legal fight continues and international bodies have gone to denounce “the irregularities, the abuses that the Mexican State is committing against the communities of Morelos,” says Domínguez, who was arrested by the government of Graco Ramírez and tortured by the Single Command police in 2013.
It was expected that the blockade on the Siglo XX Highway would continue until 2:00 p.m. this Wednesday, while assemblies are held in the communities to determine the next mobilization actions, which are combined with the legal and political struggle, in local instances, federal and international, as reported by the activists themselves.
In the middle of the blockade, an image of Samir Flores Soberanes, one of the main opponents of the PIM, assassinated on February 20, 2019, accompanies the protest. 20 months have passed since his murder and so far there is no progress in the investigation.
Huexca: A long-standing conflict
The conflict over the imposition of industrial megaprojects in the town of Huexca began eight years ago, when in 2011, still under the administration of the PAN Felipe Calderón, the Federal Electricity Commission began the promotion of one of its most ambitious projects in Morelos, to halfway between Cuautla and Izúcar de Matamoros. The Combined Cycle Power Plant (CCC Centro) would produce 622 megawatts through the combustion of natural gas and the reuse of gases to heat water and convert it into steam.
Along with a gas pipeline (which crosses risk areas near the Popocatépetl volcano) and an aqueduct (which overexploits the flow of the Cuautla River, vital for the ejidos), the construction of two thermoelectric plants in Huexca is part of the Morelos Comprehensive Project (PIM) , a mixed investment plan with billions of dollars at stake.
The Project seeks to bring energy to the eastern part of the state, particularly in the industrial zone surrounding Cuautla, where different transnational companies such as Saint Gobain Glass, Continental, and Gruinda are based. Companies such as Bonatti and Enagas, or the Spanish Abengoa and Elecnor are the big beneficiaries of the PIM thermoelectric plants.
Defenders of the territory have been fighting for several years in the states of Morelos, Tlaxcala, and Puebla, facing persecution and jail, accused of crimes whose sentences range from 4 to 30 years in prison.
“Consultations are won by the one who makes them”: Emiliano Zapata’s grandson
The promises of employment, progress, and tourism are not new to the residents of Huexca. Since 2012, Graco Ramírez, then campaigning to govern Morelos, had invoked the same “respect for the will of the people” in the face of disagreement with the mega-project. A few months later, after his takeover, Ramírez sent the state police to break up a sit-in with which the desperate residents sought to stop construction.
Villagers, activists, human rights defenders, and political and social organizations add to the problems surrounding the PIM the way in which the López Obrador administration seeks to resolve the conflict. The consultation, a tool that has already served AMLO to approve two very controversial megaprojects, is again being questioned and pointed out by figures such as Jorge Zapata, grandson of the southern caudillo, Emiliano Zapata, who described the consultation as “rigged.” “Consultations are won by the one who makes them,” he declared.
Referents of the fight against megaprojects, such as the Front of Peoples in Defense of Water, Land and Air (FPDTA) of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala, as well as the Permanent Assembly of the Peoples of Morelos have expressed their rejection of the initiative by López Obrador.
We demand that [AMLO] comply with the change. Jaime Dominguez, an opponent of the PIM, detained and tortured by the government of Graco Ramírez.
They denounce that the current administration has ignored not only the claims of the population, but also the various evidence and arguments that specialists have provided. They challenged the President to drink a glass of water fired by the thermoelectric plant, contaminated by heavy metals that are difficult to treat and which, they denounce, is even red.
Residents who reject the consultation demand, in addition to its cancellation, full reparation of the damages caused by the PIM works.
Despite the fact that the National Human Rights Commission (the same one from which AMLO requested a recommendation on the teacher conflict in Michoacán), concluded in 2018 that the Morelos Comprehensive Project violates the human rights of the population, the labor administration seeks reactivate the works by means of a “revision” to the Project.
According to experts from the University Center for the Prevention of Regional Disasters (Cupreder) of the Benemérita Autonomous University of Puebla (BUAP) interviewed this Monday by Carmen Aristegui, both the gas pipeline and the thermoelectric plant are settled in areas of eruptive danger, an issue that was also eluded by López Obrador’s report.