Atenco Assembly Re-classifies “Ejido” Lands. Development Plans Await

See the photo slideshow below.

See the photo slideshow below.

Story and photos by Débora Poo Soto

San Salvador Atenco, Estado de México, México.

[Scroll below slideshow for English version.]

Se llevó a cabo la segunda asamblea ejidal en la que el objetivo era modificar la clasificación del suelo de las tierras ejidales, de San Salvador Atenco, a “Pleno Dominio”.

Después de que el 18 de Mayo de 2014, fracasó la primera asamblea ejidal que fue convocada con el mismo objetivo. El 1 de junio en una segunda asamblea ejidal llena de irregularidades y, por tanto, probablemente ilegal, se aprobó el cambio de la clasificación de la tierra de Atenco.

El Frente de los Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (por sus siglas en español FPDT), convocó por segunda vez a organizaciones y personas solidarias a formar un cinturón de paz y dignidad a las afueras del salón privado en el que se intentaría llevar a cabo la asamblea.

Esta vez, al igual que el 18 de mayo, las personas que apoyan al FPDT acudieron pacíficamente, pero ahí se encontraban policías vestidos de civil y supuestos hijos de ejidatarios quienes fueron agresivos con las personas que se oponen a que las tierras comunales dejen de serlo.  Dicho grupo de personas estaban uniformadas con playeras en las que se leía: Atenco, Paz y Progreso.

La asamblea se llevó a cabo en un salón privado y con las puertas cerradas y un grupo de personas con sus camisetas de “Atenco, Paz y Progreso” paradas afuera de la puerta. Las personas uniformadas evitaron que algunas de las personas del FPDT ingresaran al lugar.

Después de que el Pleno Dominio fuera aprobado, la gente del FPDT y quienes los apoyan marcharon a la plaza principal, donde llevaron un mitin y definieron los pasos a seguir: establecerán un plantón y juntaran firmas para denunciar las irregularidades de la asamblea.

En repetidas ocasiones se escucharon voces de los ejidatarios quienes repitieron que están dispuestos a dar su vida para defender sus tierras. La aprobación del cambio de clasificación implica que las tierras se dividen y que puedan ser vendidas individualmente, la gente del FPDT considera que ese es el primer paso que ha dado el gobierno federal para –otra vez-, intentar despojarlos de sus tierras.

 

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English translation:

In a possibly illegal Ejido Assembly a vote was taken to reclassify the ejido. (The assembly may have been illegal because of violations that include not holding the meeting in a public place and lacking quorum for the vote). Attendees of the “assembly” reclassified the Atenco ejido asa  “Full Domain” or “Dominio Pleno.”

Ejidos are composed of agricultural lands communally owned by local farmers, or ejidatarios. (Go to the bottom of this post for more a more in-depth definition of an ejido.)

Since 2000, various administrations headed by Fox, Calderon and Peña Nieto wanted to take over the communal lands of Atenco. The politicians had their sights set on building an airport, despite studies showing it wouldn’t be wise or even possible to build an airport on the land . In 2002, farmers stunted President Fox’s plan to bust up ejido land for an airport. Similarly in 2013, an even grander plan was blocked that would have used the lands for the expansion of Mexico City. (More on that here.)

Recent attempts to take over the communal lands of Atenco culminated in a meeting last month (more on that plus photos here), but plans were stunted due to a failure to meet quorum.

The Ejido Assembly was reconvened on 1 June 2014. Again, the Front of Peoples in Defense of the Earth called for organizations and caring people to form a Belt of Peace and Dignity outside the private salon where the assembly would take place.

Yesterday, a group of people in shirts reading “Atenco, Peace and Progress,” guarded the entrance to the sight of the assembly, preventing the Belt of Peace and Dignity entrance.

By the end of the Assembly, the reclassification was allegedly approved. For the Front of Peoples in Defense of Land, another phase of struggle has begun.

After the “Full Domain” classification was approved, people of the Front and their supporters marched to the main square, where they led a rally and defined steps for moving forward: establish a sit-in and collect signatures denouncing the irregularities of the assembly.

Repeatedly, voices of ejidatarios declared they are willing to give their lives to defend their lands. Approval of the change in classification implies that the land will be divided and thus can be sold in individual parcels. The Front people believe this is the first step  by the federal government to deprive them of their land.

[Note: What are ejidos?   Ejidos are composed of agricultural lands communally owned by local farmers (ejidatarios). Members of an ejido may individually possess and farm a specific parcel, but they do not have the right to sell their parcels individually. The current ejido system was based on indigenous practices, and was instituted throughout Mexico as part of the Mexican Revolution’s land reform program.  Although the ejido system has been under attack, particularly as a result of NAFTA and neoliberalism, much of rural land in Mexico remains under the ejido system. This report describes yet another attempt by the Federal Government to break the communal ejido system]

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