Chiapas, Mexico: Three indigenous communities in the Lancandon Jungle are under urgent threat of eviction from the Mexican authorities. We need your help to halt the evictions and help the indigenous communities gain more equal footing to advocate for their human rights. There are three ways you can help today: 1) Understand this complex issue. 2) Sign up to to for our Urgent Alerts so that you can take action as the situation evolves. 3) Donate to get a rapid response team on the ground.
1) Understand the issue
For a year Dd has collaborated with civil society actors to build the concept for a community mapping program in Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas is a region with a complex history of land tenure disputes between ethnic groups, timber companies and the government. There, the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve holds Mexico’s greatest concentration of biodiversity. In Montes Azules, 11 indigenous communities are under threat of imminent forced eviction by Mexican authorities. Last week, three communities were told they have only weeks left on the land.
Evictions would be devastating — especially to the women of the community. Evictions would force the 500 villagers into urban slums or onto flood plains. Though the community has committed no crime, they would likely be held in detention. When resettled, finding a livelihood would be a struggle. For indigenous women in the community, it is very likely that they would be pushed into prostitution to survive.
We believe that indigenous rights should not be in conflict with environmental rights. The communities in question are practicing sustainable land-use planning and want to protect the environment of their ancestral home. Dd is deploying a small team to work directly with the local communities to help them map their land and tell their own story. Our goal is to impart media & mapping skills so the community can better dialogue and negotiate – on more equal footing – with the Mexican authorities. In the short-term we hope to prevent evictions, but the long-term goal is for the government and communities to recognize they are all working for the same thing: to protect the Montes Azules Reserve.
The Mexican Government is responsive to international attention. As local communities produce maps and media telling their story, we want to be sure to connect them to an audience who cares. We will send you the most relevant work they produce as well as any petitions or calls to action they put out. We’ll need your help to read, retweet and share, so that their stories can reach key NGOs and government influencers, keeping you engaged as things evolve. We will only contact you when there is a pressing need, and you can opt out at any time.
3) Help Dd send a response team + equipment to Chiapas immediately: Donate
We have raised some urgent travel funds but still need support to get equipment and a team on the ground in time. Your donation will allow us to work directly with these communities at the most necessary point: NOW, in anticipation of the eviction. Your donation will directly contribute to our mission of empowering marginalized communities to fight for their human rights.
UPDATE: Thanks to the Arca Foundation for helping support the travel component and WITNESS for contributing cameras to ensure that the communities will have tools to document the ongoing situation. (Check out Witness’ ongoing work on forced evictions.) We still need help to make the trip possible … please consider donating today!