The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 15

From The sTaFF

Does Progress Help or Harm the
Indigenous Peoples of Mexico?
by Hortensia Azucena Picos Lee

D

Indigenous children in San CristĂłbal de las Casas, Chiapas.
Photo by Carlos Gomez.

oes progress help or prejudice the Indigenous peoples of
mexico? the most obvious answer is that it helps, because
it is common to associate progress with human development.
Progress has been sought by all peoples in their quest for happiness.
however, in the end, progress is a relative concept, and
what it means for some may be different from what it means for
others. the relativism of progress makes us aware that there is
not a unique way to reach it, but whatever path is chosen in this
sense must be taken with respect to those who do not share our
thinking.
mexico has been a country that has progressed in many aspects, but the currently dominant neoliberal model has not been
good enough to create the conditions that its citizens require to
develop their full potential. the neoliberal idea of progress has
exacerbated the inequalities and the state of misery in which
Indigenous communities live, and has also ignored the important
contributions they have made to us in terms of their vision of the
world and their harmony with nature.
historically, traditionally Indigenous peoples have shared
a spiritual, cultural, social and economic relationship with the

land. Their laws, customs and practices have reflected both an
attachment to the land and the responsibility for its conservation
for future generations. In the past, and in the present, they have
defended the collective ownership of their lands, because they
understand that the entire community must be a beneficiary of
their wealth, and that the physical and cultural survival of their
people depends on the proper use of the land and its resources.
But then the Europeans arrived and brought with them
western-style progress, together with a mercantilist administration
of the land, dispossessing its original owners in order to exploit it.
this has been perpetuated through the centuries and, today, Indigenous peoples are coerced to abandon their land in the name of
"national interest," without being given their share of the benefits
generated by the exploitation of natural resources. the State has
legalized and promoted a model which is far from protecting the
land in favor of its traditional inhabitants, who are ignored and
left out of the political processes that define their destiny.
development projects in mexico continue to cause environmental damage. they deplete water, geological and forest
resources. they develop economic activities that threaten the
fragile ecosystems of the earth and cause damage to large areas
inhabited by Indigenous peoples.
one example is in the northern highlands of the State of
Puebla. Beginning in 2014, the inhabitants of the municipality of
Ixtacamaxtitlân pointed out the effects of the exploration made
by the canadian company Almaden minerals. they claimed
an increased scarcity of water for cultivation and for human
consumption. they pointed out that 16 percent of their homes
lacked piped water from the public network and, if the precious
metal extraction phase of the mining project materialized, the
availability of water for citizens would be even more severely
diminished.
At the same time, water quality has been compromised by
contamination from the use of toxic substances. their report
indicated that, to date, 30 goats owned by one of the families of
the same community have died after drinking water from a stream
that receives discharges from the laboratory/cellar used by the
canadian miner.1
the problems arising from this are not only ecological; the
social consequences are very serious. the conditions in which they
live usually force Indigenous men and women to migrate to work
Please see "Progress" on page 17

Baptist Peacemaker

Oct-Dec 2017 15



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017

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The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 32
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/38-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-1
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-4
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-1
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com