Monsanto in Mexico | Indigenous beekeepers face intimidation by state

Monsanto in Mexico | Indigenous beekeepers face intimidation by state   [reposted from]

Mayan bee glyph.

Moderator’s Note: When we last reported on the situation with GMOs in the southern Mexican states of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán, there were many reasons to celebrate since a federal judge had overturned the approval of GMO soy plantings in this region as a threat to the indigenous beekeepers of the region (see our posts of March 16 2014 and July 24, 2014).

Those rulings profoundly recognized Mayan indigenous autonomy. As quoted in our report of March last year:

According to press reports…(Mar 11, 2014) the court “determined that the effective protection of indigenous rights requires the exercise of certain human rights of a procedural nature, mainly the access to information, participation in decision-making and access to ensure justice.”

Moreover, this decision was based on the violation of the right to free, prior and informed consultation for indigenous peoples protected by Article 2 of the Mexican Constitution and Convention 169 of the ILO (International Labor Organization), a legally binding international instrument open to ratification, which deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples. Mexico ratified ILO 169 on May 9, 1990.

Any decision that recognizes indigenous autonomy is unheard of in Mexico’s juridical order; that is, until last year’s historic and unprecedented ruling banning GMO soy plantings as a violation of indigenous rights.

However, there are new and troubling reports coming out of Mexico indicating that, despite this important legal victory, the Mayan beekeepers are facing increased threats of violence, economic blackmail, and displacement by forces aligned with powerful economic interests in Campeche State.

I am posting a report on these attacks on indigenous beekeepers prepared by Daniela Barragán of Sinembargo news service. The translation was prepared by your moderator.

Mexican women beekeepers.

Photo by Alfredo Contreras

Mayan beekeepers seek protection from state-directed violence


Daniela Barragán  | Mexico City | October 25, 2015

The Supreme Court must resolve seven legal motions presented recently by the communities and associations of beekeepers in Campeche state asking to address the issue of the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consultation, as well as violations of their right to public health and a healthy environment.

With less than a week to go before the Supreme Court of Mexico (SCJN) starts discussions pertaining to the protections that beekeepers in the Peninsula of Yucatán and Campeche interposed to prevent Monsanto from planting transgenic soybeans in the region, members of the assemblies report that there have been numerous acts of intimidation by the authorities.

In 2012, the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fishing and Food (SAGARPA) authorized the planting of soybeans genetically modified by the Monsanto Company on 253 hectares in Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula, in an area known as the Huasteca Plains.

Indigenous Maya, who are devoted to beekeeping, noted that the illegitimate granting of the SAGRPA permission, would affect more than 50 thousand farmers, since production of honey being is one of the main economic activities of the region.

The planting of genetically modified soybeans in the region has led to a process of deforestation accelerated in what is considered to be the last Mexican jungle. According to information from the Colectivo sin Transgénicos, the planting of this product in other countries, has resulted in the concentration of land, loss of jobs, damage to health, and deforestation and desertification of forests and jungles. According to the testimony of the beekeepers, crops of transgenic soybeans devastated entire fields where the bees worked.

Arnulfo Ordoñez, of Hermes Honey, said in an interview that these actions are derived from the governmental corruption that characterizes the region, which will end up affecting trade relations with Europe, its biggest partner. He promoted the idea that Mexico was a country free of GMOs in honey.

Ordonez explained that in these days, in assemblies prior to the start of the discussion, several groups of beekeepers have withdrawn their participation, since they indicate that they are victims of acts of intimidation by the authorities. These acts range from the suspension of the economic support to personal threats of violence.

In general, Ordoñez said, that social pressure facing the movement is increasing, since the indigenous communities are considered to be persons “revolting” and “problematic”; now with the departure of several producers, the beekeepers will have to enter a period of reorganization as a result of these threats.

The violation of the protections afforded by the courts may comprise temporary failures and so the plaintiffs have continued organizing and are presented in the courts, when they have been summoned to testify on several occasions. However, according to the testimony of Ordoñez, little by little the Government has been pressing the producers who are signing on to the opposition to GMOs.

“There are organizations which were against Monsanto and all such organizations did not receive economic support this year.”

“Organizations that have indicated that they have no involvement with the planting of soybeans, have received support equivalent to 9 million pesos”, he said.

He said that he was at a meeting last Thursday, which analyzed the advances of the theme, when leaders from Campeche, spoke and said they left the movement, “which had much social pressure because there were even personal threats, because they had trimmed the budgets and contended that the beekeepers are problematic and unruly people”.

This month, the Supreme Court must resolve seven amparos (due process actions) presented by communities and the beekeepers’ associations. These are asking the court to address the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples to a free consultation, prior and informed consent, as well as violations of their right to health and a healthy environment.

They also demand the implementation of the precautionary principle for economic damages that may arise from the planting of soybeans by Monsanto, since sowing doesn’t employ people of the locality, but from other States.

In 2012, the beekeepers presented amparo judgments related to the violation of the right to consult, to self-determination and to development as peoples. Two years later, the second District Court of Campeche and the first court of Yucatán, argued that it violated the right to consultation and advised against the planting of soybeans.

By 2015, the National Commission of human rights (CNDH), issued a recommendation with the same verdict: The pattern of intimidation and economic deprivation violates the right to consultation, noting: “…improper approval of genetically modified soybeans in Maya indigenous communities [was a] clear prejudice toward Huasteca Náhuatl, Pame, Tepehua, Popoluca, Totonaca, Chol, Mame, Tzetal and Yzotzil”, according to information from the Colectivo sin Transgénicos.

Forty percent of the honey produced in the country is made in the Yucatán Peninsula. According to SAGARPA, in 2014 honey sales generated one billion pesos in revenue.

Transgenic soya and their associated pesticides place at risk the bee populations in seven States, according to the Union of Scientists Committed to Society, that points out that the level of deployment of the GMOs and chemical treatments prevents the bees from staying in the affected areas and the pollinators increasingly have to fly further to search for food in forests. In addition, evidence suggests that the use of herbicides and pesticides kill or disorient the bees.

Due to the detailed documentation that surrounds the case, it is also known that the Mayan villages of the Yucatán Peninsula are not the only ones affected, but that the consequences of GMO threats extend to other States including Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí.

Posted 6 hours ago by Devon G. Peña

Labels: bee colony collapse beekeepers Campeche Colectiva sin Transgenicos court cases ILO 169 Maya Mexico Monsanto OIT 169 soy transgenics

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