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Research questions REDD Program in Chiapas for Destroying Indigenous Identity

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
22 May, 2012
Publisher Name: 
Climate Connections
By Hermann Bellinghausen, from La Jornada
Author e-Mail: 
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The program Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD Plus), driven by the UN, has been embraced by the government of Mexico since 2010, and its flagship is Chiapas where, as in other countries, the program is controversial.

To begin with, “the government itself has divided peoples into ‘legals’ and ‘illegals’ in order to ‘respect’ ILO Convention 169 people when it comes to indigenous peoples working with the government, while not respecting the convention when it comes to other Indian it chooses to consider ‘invaders,’ “says the paper “REDD Plus Project in Chiapas” by Norwegian researcher Ingrid Fadnes.

What about the rights of indigenous peoples? A shared vision among most, on a continental scale, is that those who destroy their land and resources are causing their own destruction and that of their identity as a people.

In Chiapas there is not only great biological diversity, but also an impressive cultural diversity, with 12 different indigenous peoples. The Lacandones, the people with the smallest population number and who are often at the heart of controversies for their permanent collaboration with the state and federal governments, are again at the center of a critique from indigenous peoples and other social and environmental organizations.

Lacandon community members already involved in the project, are receiving a monthly payment from the government: “We support the land owners, we are not hiring forest rangers or guradians, but betting that the landowners will protect the forest,” argued Governor Juan Sabines Guerrero. Receiving these payments for environmental services are residents of Chansayab Lacanjá, Naha, Metzabok, Frontera Corozal and New Palestine (all in the municipality of Ocosingo).

The researcher notes: REDD projects in Mexico are not formally defined as such, but the government of Chiapas began to pay select Lacandon villagers last year with public funds, to show its willingness to create a good basis for transnational business with California.

From 25 to 27 September, the governor of Chiapas will preside over the world conference of the Working Group of Governors of the 45 member states of the REDD Plus Program, a unique collaboration between several sub-national entities and provinces that sets the stage for a market for buying and selling carbon credits.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the National Forestry Commission are promoting a pilot project to empower communities in monitoring and measuring carbon and calculating the amount of carbon that exists in the present and future, and to account for emissions reductions. To complement this effort, the state has established a Programme of Action on Climate Change, with participation from Conservation International, which facilitates the development of the scientific and technical structure through partnerships with the Universities of Science and Arts of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutierrez Institute of Technology, Colegio de la Frontera Sur, and UNAM, in collaboration with the National Institute of Ecology.

Moreover, civil society groups such as Pronatura and Ambio are involved, along with the National Commission for the Conservation of Biodiversity and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor program, the United States Agency for International Development, the British Embassy, the Norwegian government and the Global Fund Environment, administered and controlled by the World Bank.

To define what carbon indulgences (credits) can be sold to the government of California and the polluting industries that support it, the government of Chiapas is attempting, as it has for decades, to mark a border within the Lacandon jungle (“la brecha Lacandona”) to define the area that can be submitted to the carbon market, leading to renewed attacks and displacement of indigenous communities, the researcher concludes.

Translation from Spanish by Jeff Conant, for Climate Connections


Extpub | by Dr. Radut