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Dawn Paley, "We’re Coming” COP16 Mexico Protests

“We’re Coming”: COP 16 Mexico Protests Dawn Paley

“We’re coming, and we’re going to take over public spaces.” That is the message that Gustavo Castro Soto, a community organizer in Chiapas, has for the Mexican government and the world in the lead up to the COP-16 Summit in Cancún. Even though they’ve been getting the runaround from local and state governments about renting halls and meeting places during the COP-16, environmental and social movements throughout Mexico have put out a call for an alternative gathering, dubbed a “Climate Dialogue,” outside of the official summit.

Castro works with Otros Mundos in San Cristobal de las Casas, and is active in national networks against mining (REMA) and hydroelectric (MAPDER) projects. He thinks that a lack of information about the climate crisis is among the biggest challenges for Indigenous and campesino communities throughout Mexico.

“I think one of the biggest challenges for the ecological movement, for social movement, for campesino and indigenous movements is the comprehension of the climate crisis and the mechanisms that governments and corporations are implementing to supposedly combat the climate crisis in the countryside,” said Castro in an interview via Skype from his office in San Cristobal. “These mechanisms are in fact accelerating the crisis, and affecting lands and territory,” he said. These initiatives, which include planting monocultures for bio-fuels, the implementation of the UN’s program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), and building new dams, are being passed off as “development” projects throughout the country.

“The government of Mexico, along with other governments, is now saying we have to realize a ‘productive reconversion’ in the countryside,” said Castro. “This means losing food sovereignty, and it means that community based peasant movements have to build an analysis of the agricultural industries that are sold to them as development, and that they understand what clean development mechanisms are and what environmental services mean, as well as other elements of the carbon market.”

“There is a lot of disinformation about what a Clean Development Mechanism is, and what REDD means, and this is not only among the campesino and Indigenous movements, but also among NGOs and environmental groups,” said Castro. “I don’t think the movement will be able to resist and confront these projects of clean development mechanisms, and the implementation of REDD, if they don’t understand what it is, and these are themes that are not well understood.”

Building this analysis is an urgent task, as market based false solutions to the climate crisis are set to increase the pressure on Mexican farmers and Indigenous people. At the COP-16 summit, Castro expects the Mexican government to propose a comprehensive national plan which will put the country’s forests into the carbon market. “We’re going to Cancun, and I think there President Calderon is going to make a very concrete proposal that puts Mexico’s forest cover on the carbon market, this will include things like African palm plantations within the REDD mechanism,” said Castro. “Environmental and corporate groups have already started to work on baseline studies in order for the Mexican government to put this on the table.”

Dawn Paley is a journalist based in Vancouver. This article is taken from 'beyond parts per million' a new climate justice journal http://www.mediacoop.ca/sites/mediacoop.ca/files2/mc/BeyondPPM.pdf