Mexico’s rural development shows authorities bulldozing the health and environmental concerns of Indigenous communities in favor of its international clients, a new study found.
Isabel Madariaga, former member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, presented the findings to the United Nations after conducted a two-month-long study, analyzing three of the country’s mega-projects and the consideration giving to Indigenous residents.
According to her research, state authorities disregard the rights of Indigenous groups and frequently fail to hold informed consultations prior to construction, as required by both the Mexican Constitution and international law.
"There is an abusive use of power, both from the point of view of international law, which Mexico has promised to respect, and from the perspective of judicial resolutions that provide the protection for its people, which are both ignored by the authorities, in an open disregard for the rule of law and justice,” she said.
Madriaga first became aware of the human rights violations after conducting in-depth investigations into government projects such as the transgenic soybean fields in Los Chenes’ Mayan communities; the major highway construction plowing through the Otomi community in San Francisco; and Mexico City’s international airport built near the agricultural community in San Salvador Atenco.
On delivering her report, "Mechanisms of Dispossession: Three Indigenous Peoples and Peasants in the Face of Injustice,” to authorities, the former IACHR member encouraged the Mexican government to act, offering a number of solutions to meet the demands of the Indigenous communities and remedy the current situation.
Madariaga suggested authorities strengthen its agrarian legislation for the benefit and safety of its Indigenous groups; respect the rights of its native people and confer with them on construction initiatives prior to development; discuss plans with Indigenous leaders with complete transparency as well as investigate alternatives to suit all parties involved.
"It’s time the Mexican government takes simple, but crucial, measures to address and repair the situation in these three towns, while at the same time it should consider measures to prevent new injustices against so many other communities threatened by the imposition of megaprojects," she said.
Madariaga also delivered her findings to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples who have been touring Mexico since Nov. 8 and will continue until Nov. 17.
During their visit, the team of human rights experts has been investigating a range of human rights abuses including land tenure; mega-projects; political participation; access to justice; and economic, social and cultural affairs.