Leopoldo Arellano and Felipa Sánchez have two tanks on their sidewalk in San Miguel Xaltocan, State of México, to be filled with the pipes that the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) has been sending. The well that supplied the people stopped working, but as part of the negotiations to accept the construction of the new airport Felipe Ángeles, the government has promised this town, located next to the Santa Lucia Air base, definitively solve its Water problem, according to residents.
That wasn’t the only promise. In fact, four work tables were formed with the government, on water, land, infrastructure, and social and economic development, as part of the agreement reached at an assembly held on 10 March last in the Ejidal auditorium which lasted more than six hours. This meeting served as a consultation to indigenous peoples close to the project, as President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed last Monday, while the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development (SEDATU) confirmed that only that Community, of less than four thousand inhabitants.
Political Animal He spoke with several inhabitants of San Miguel Xaltocan, municipality of Nextlalpan, who confirmed that practically all the attendees voted by hand in favor of the airport, because the government offered many aid for the people, and because they considered That, anyway, the project is already underway.
Land ownership, an old quarrel
From the last street of San Miguel Xaltocan to the northeast, you can see the control tower of the Santa Lucía air Base. The airstrip is 2.5 miles. But you also see a wide expanse of land that is needed for the construction project of two more tracks.
This is where maize, oats, barley, alfalfa, wheat, pumpkin, and in the rainy season, radish and beet are sown, according to some peasants. They claim that they are the most productive people in the region, because others do not have fertile lands or do not work like them, and that is one of the reasons why the Government had to consult Xaltocan, rather than other communities.
The problem is that these lands are both ejidal, shared between about 150 ejidatarios that have four hectares (40000 square meters) each, as communal, ie, individual parcels and have no titles of property. Therefore, the Government has offered to distribute other land and to regularize those that exist in the south of the town, in exchange for the sale of those who need.
In the stationery that is in front of the elementary school, some cards alert the neighbors to check if they are in the «census». The owner of the business, Leopoldo Arellano, explains that since the years 70 the government has been asked to recognize the property of those lands that the people have worked, but it has never happened, so now that they have the possibility of negotiating, it is important that Everybody get benefited. But it is not clear how many are: it shows a document of a census erected in 2001, where there are 349 registered, but it says that now who is held as a communal leader has another with more than 700 people.
«In the Assembly came to consider the project, with a map that, well, was an aerial photograph of bad quality, but we have a good idea of how is the thing, where are the current limits and what they want. And we were told that in return for that, of that expropriation, in exchange for those lands that we are going to cede, they could give us scriptures of the land we have always fought. And that is where the apple of discord is, because those who have done the censuses, already go as three censuses, and each one that they do eliminate some and they put to their favorites. So now they promise to give us the qualification of the lands that are there, for the whole indigenous community of Xaltocan, «he says.
That is why one of the work tables that was formed on the day of consultation, with 17 people involved, is going to negotiate how much is paid for the land and how to deal with new ones.
A ejidataria who prefers not to give his name, complains that the locals are the ones who are demanding the most in the negotiation, while they are not certain that they will give them lands that are fertile, and at this point they have not even told them how much they are going to Pay.
«Didn’t Lopez Obrador say he doesn’t want poor peasants, and they take away our parcels… what are we going to do next, if we live in this?» he asks.
Surrounded by wells, but without water
Xaltocan was founded by Otomi on an island that was in a lake of the same name, and of which there is no more trace than the water that remains under the Earth. On the road that passes by the town you can see constantly wells of the Pachuca-Cuautitlán basin, which serve to supply Mexico City. However, this community has to open its own wells and is constantly suffering from shortages.
«Is that we are independent and the same population keeps the wells, that is, if the bomb breaks down, the people pay the reparation. The one we had and stopped producing, dried, has like two months, so now they are sending pipes. There is a second well that was not taking water and we are going to enable it, «says the charge of a taco business, which does not want to be mentioned with your name.
«Here we were damaged with this network of wells that brings water to Mexico City. That is, now we would be damaged as a fourth time as a people, «adds his mother. «What we would like is for us to connect to that network, because how can it be that they take the water to the city, and then we don’t have it.»
The inhabitants also fear that a work of the magnitude of the airport will make the water shortage worse if they do not guarantee the connection to the network.
Besides the water, the next thing that worries the people of this community is the noise. Already they have the passage of the train and overflights every so many hours of small military planes, but they know that an airport of the magnitudes that is being raised, with initial capacity for 20 million of annual passengers, will imply that sound much stronger and Constant.
«Well, it’s not going to be a plane to go on a day or every two hours, but it’s going to be constant. But the people agreed, as long as we have some benefit. Economic perhaps not, but of progress of the people, «says another woman who is originally from there.
So at the meeting where the consultation was made, several proposals were made. Among them, regarding infrastructure, arose to build a hospital, because there is only a small health center. There were also suggestions like relocation the high school, which is on a village shore, build a public market, improve the lighting system or fix the central square.
Another offer from the government, according to the owners of the stationery, within the work table on economic and social development, was to help them to create small companies to provide services to the airport, like working in the recycling of the wastes that it generates, or to take care of the Maintenance of the facilities.
When the transition team, in October 2018, made the consultation to ask nationwide if the project of new International Airport of Mexico (NAIM) was cancelled in Texcoco and instead two more tracks were built at the Santa Lucía Air Base , there was no voting booth here. Not even in the municipal capital of Nextlalpan, where this town belongs, but only in those of Zumpango and Tecamac, the other two municipalities that surround the terminal.
But last week, López Obrador aroused the controversy in the act of initiating the work of the airport by ensuring that he had already made a consultation with the surrounding towns, which was not released publicly. Hours later, the Sedatu specified in a statement that this was the only people consulted «because within the area of enlargement of the airport are located the lands of collective ownership of the community of Xaltocan, a question that does not occur with other neighboring communities.»
According to inhabitants of San Miguel Xaltocan, from January officials of the government began to come, especially of the secretariat of the defense, as well as of Governorate (Segob), Sedatu and Conagua.
They also arrived from the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), since although in the environs of Saint Lucia there are no villages where more than 40% of the population speaks an original language, criterion to be catalogued thus, Xaltocan has a museum of vestiges Archaeological Teotihuacan, Olmec and Aztecs that were recovered in the area, and each year a Latin American Oratory contest is organized in native languages.
«First came the indigenous peoples, it was the first approach, and we were asked if we considered as indigenous people, as you want, we were told, but as indigenous people have certain advantages, certain benefits, of instances International agreement for the decisions you want to make. And we all said yes. They told us that after they had to come from the defense to raise the project, we said yes, but we also want them to come from Conagua and Sedatu, «recalls Arellano.
On March 10 at 7 pm was the appointment established for the Grand Assembly, in the auditorium Ejidal, located a few steps from the central square, and where they usually perform important events of the town. Not only did Ejidatarios and community members attend, but the call was for all the inhabitants of Xaltocan. According to Sedatu, 626 citizens arrived, although some of the attendees said to Political Animal That first were more than 600 but in the end there was half, as the meeting lasted until after 1 a.m.
Photo: Itxaro Arteta
By the government, they came from the aforementioned dependencies, in addition to other COMO Wellbeing, Environment and natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Agriculture and Rural Development (Sader), of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and of the National Commission of Human Rights (CNDH) as observers.
There were no ballot boxes, but it was finished with a hand-held vote in which virtually unanimously, the witnesses claimed, the construction of the Felipe Ángeles Airport was approved on the existing military base of Saint Lucia. In return, a follow-up commission was created with more than 50 members, organized in work-tables.
«They took the proposals that we made, but it is not that they are already going to do it; They said they were going to study if they were viable. Let’s see, «he expresses with doubts an inhabitant of Xaltocan.
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