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MEXICO: Land expropriations

Paola Jeannete Vera Báez responds to the posting asking why the peasants whose land was expropriated for the Puebla industrial park do not get compensation and jobs in the new factories. She replies that they would be only too happy to get those jobs. The problem is that only Volkwagen went through formal expropriation procedures and paid the Indians. The other enterprises simply seized their land with the support of the state government. She and the supporters of the Indians favor the industrial development of Puebla, but the oppose this seizure of their land.

The case of the peasants whose land was expropriated to build the new Mexico City airport is different. Raúl Escalante says: "Your assumption about expropriation for the airport is correct. Ejido lands are to be expropriated by legal means (I will research how this works and mail you the result). I don't know if "adequate" compensation was offered; the issue of what "adequate" means is debatable, particularly since rural land near the airport is sure to rise in value. In any event, the offers have increased since the protests, which leads me to believe that the original offers may have been rather poor.

The political mess that has resulted from this has been fanned by the Jefe de Gobierno of the Federal District for reasons known to himself. He has vowed to do what he can to stop the project with typical populist fervor. Although people in the City don't give much of a damn about the underlying issues (except that it will be much shorter driving to Texcoco to catch a flight than to Tizayuca, the other proposed site), we have been shocked by the images of toothless farmers riding decrepit horses and waving machetes in the streets. The pictures resemble those from the Revolution.

I was very amused to hear that these same farmers were to be shipped to Europe for anti-globalization protests, where they would be provided with plastic machetes to wave about. I don't know if anything came of it, but moving from poor farmer to global protester is an interesting career-switch. I find the idea a cheap exploitation of the image of "México Bárbaro".

In the case of Puebla, some very good jobs were created in the Industrial Park (which may partly explain the divisions in the community), but it must be painful to swallow such a radical change of lifestyle when it is forced down your throat".

Ronald Hilton - 7/3/02