Video: PBI-Mexico speaks at the observation mission media conference, July 27, 2023.

PBI-Mexico recently participated in an international observation mission that documented abuses against Indigenous territorial defenders opposed to the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus (CIIT) megaproject in the state of Oaxaca.

On July 27, PBI-Mexico tweeted: “PBI accompanies the observation mission in the Isthmus. It will continue to monitor the risk situation in which the indigenous peoples affected by the construction of the Interoceanic Corridor in their territory find themselves. Here we share the press release.”

That press release notes the CIIT is implicated in “at least: 21 cases of intimidation, harassment and threats against defenders, their families or groups; 11 cases of physical and psychological violence, as well as forced evictions; 3 killings of defenders between October 2022 and July 2023; 2 cases of defamation through wide-ranging public media; and 43 cases of criminal complaints against local authorities and community defenders.”

The mission also noted that 31 aggression events were recorded between October 2022 and July 2023 that were mainly against Indigenous Mixes and Zapotec peoples “of which in 21 cases they were intimidation, harassment or threats.”

What is the Interoceanic Corridor?

Mexico News Daily has explained: “The so-called Interoceanic Corridor will include 10 new industrial parks across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec — the narrow ‘waist’ of southern Mexico between Salina Cruz, Oaxaca and Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz.”

“Another key component of [Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador] AMLO’s industrial strategy for southern Mexico is a 300-km transoceanic freight rail line that would link the proposed industrial parks. The ports of Coatzacoalcos and Salina Cruz would be expanded, and a new gas pipeline would be constructed in the oil-rich region. There are also plans for four new wind farms across the region to support the boom in industry that the government hopes will follow investment.”

Photo: The Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus (CIIT).

What Canadian companies are involved in this megaproject?

The Mexico News Daily article further explains that companies from the United States, Canada, and Germany are being encouraged to become investors in this project.

On July 27, Mexican Secretary of Economy Raquel Buenrostro stated that 100 companies were interested in participating in the CIIT tender, of which 65 complied with the procedures and registrations.

Just a few weeks prior to this, on May 20 in Washington DC, Buenrostro met with Canadian Minister of International Trade Mary Ng and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, along with US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, to promote the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Photo:  Buenrostro, Champagne, Ng, Raimondo.

And in April of this year, Radio Fórmula reported: “[The Calgary, Alberta-based] Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) [railway company] will seek to be a strategic partner and offer connections to North America with two of the flagship infrastructure projects of Q4: the Trans-Isthmus Corridor and the Mayan Train.”

That article adds: “According to its president in Mexico, Óscar del Cueto, who announced the recent integration of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern, stressed that this new measure will allow the company to make ‘seamless’ connections between the ports of Mexico, those of the eastern United States and all of Canada.”

Photo: The merger of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. (founded in 1881) with Kansas City Southern Railway Co. was finalized in April 2023.

Interoceanic Corridor connected with the Tren Maya megaproject

Radio Fórmula has also reported: “AMLO has confirmed that the Interoceanic Corridor would connect with the Mayan Train, in order to expand the rail network in the south and southeast of the country.”

The Mexico City-based Project on Organizing, Development, Education and Research (PODER) has published a report titled The train of the elites that lists the companies and energy projects that would benefit from the Tren Maya megaproject.

Their report highlights (on page 34): “The main source of income for the Mayan Train will be the transportation of fuels, it seems clear that the Mayan Train will function as a platform infrastructure for the energy sector.”

The chart below from the PODER report notes Vancouver-based Renaissance Oil Corp. and Regina-based provincial Crown corporation Sask Energy Incorporated.

Who is committing the human rights violations?

The Observation Mission says: “Among the authorities responsible for the human rights violations identified during the mission are the National Guard, the Navy, the Sedena [the Mexican Secretariat of National Defense], the State Police, the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation, municipal authorities and the Agrarian Attorney’s Office. Various companies, armed groups and local chieftains were also identified.”

Photo: Mexican military featured in CADSI promotional video for the CANSEC 2023 arms show in Ottawa.

We continue to follow this with concern.

Further reading: Con Jara Cruz, aumento exponencial de ataques a defensores del territorio (La Jornada, July 28, 2023) and Con el Corredor Interoceánico aumentaron agresiones a comunidades y defensores sociales (Proceso, July 27, 2023).

Published by Brent Patterson on