Indigenous groups and small farmers from six Mexican states have been marching in the capital this week with a long list of demands. These range from policies to reactivate the rural economy to greater legal protection against massive infrastructure projects on their land.
The thousands of marchers — most of them wearing traditional clothes or cowboy hats and large belt buckles — have caused several days of traffic chaos. They have also set up a tent city around the interior ministry.
Francisco Jiménez, one of the main organizers of the protests, said the most immediate demand is for talks with Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.
“We want the government to address our issues,” said Jiménez. “This march is for the defense of our territories, our dead, the political prisoners, the lack of water, and the revitalization of the Mexican countryside.”
The group had converged on the capital from Guerrero, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Veracruz and Chiapas — all of them resource-rich states in the south or center of Mexico with significant indigenous populations who often suffer acute levels of poverty.
Jiménez, who is from Chiapas, put particular emphasis on the demand for a new law giving local communities more say over concessions to exploit mines, and build hydroelectric plants, as well as other major infrastructure such as highways.
“In our communities, there’s gold, there’s silver, and there’s gasoline, but the money these generate does not support us and only benefits the international companies and the rich elites,” the activist said. “Mexico needs legislation that requires the authorities to consult the local residents before giving concessions. And the wealth made must be shared.”
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