Protecting Mexican sacred lands: Canadian gas pipeline to be rerouted

Mexico’s President said that he will ask for a Canada’s TC Energy Corp's natural gas pipeline to be rerouted so it does not cut across lands considered sacred by indigenous communities in Puebla

Protecting Mexican sacred lands: Canadian gas pipeline to be rerouted
The so-called Tuxpan-Tula pipeline is set to stretch 286 km - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
English 07/01/2020 14:17 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Anthony Esposito, Sharay Angulo & Kim Coghill/REUTERS & Perla Miranda/EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 14:38

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Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that he will ask for a natural gas pipeline being developed by Canada’s TC Energy Corp to be rerouted so it does not cut across lands considered sacred by communities in Puebla state.

“Even if we have to pay, the gas pipeline will not go through the sacred hills,” López Obrador said on Saturday while visiting the town of Pahuatlán in Puebla.

The so-called Tuxpan-Tula pipeline is set to stretch 286 km, delivering fuel from Tuxpan in Veracruz state to the states of Puebla and Hidalgo.

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Last year, López Obrador’s government persuaded companies to waive significant profits from natural gas pipeline deals signed under the previous administration after renegotiating the contracts to save taxpayers USD $4.5 billion.

That months-long dispute caused diplomatic frictions with Canada in particular, aggravating concerns that López Obrador, a veteran leftist who took office in December 2018, could call into question contracts signed before he assumed the presidency.

“In the contracts, we found there are clauses that establish that if the firm cannot build the gas pipeline, the government must pay; we are checking out these cases, but here, in San Pablito, even though we have to pay, the gas pipeline will not pass through sacred hills. We’re not going to accept these conditions. Mexico, against all odds, will change this reality of injustice and there must be economic and social equality; the poor are first,” he said.

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In a dialogue with the Otomí, Náhuatl, Totonac, and Tepehua people, López Obrador stressed that his government has granted no concessions for mining exploitation.

“We have revealed many rotten things, but it is no longer the same politics. I can tell you that we have not granted a single concession for mining exploitation. Calderón franchised 26 million hectares, 90 million of them were granted from Salinas to Peña and now, with us, zero. And also, although there is a trend to extract petroleum and gas with fracking, which is the use of a lot of water to exploit fossil fuels; it will not happen here, don’t worry; I’m not going to betray the people, we will continue fighting for the transformation of the country,” he said.

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The Mexican President stressed that it is thanks to austerity measures and the fight against corruption that Mexico’s public debt did not grow during his first year of government, which will help prevent the rise of costs of different services.

While he read banners with which the inhabitants of Pahuatlán demanded the construction of roads, the halt of the Tuxpan.-Tula gas pipeline, and drinking water, López Obrador highlighted that during his administration, 900,000 young people have joined the Youths Building the Future program, and this year there will be 1 million.

During the dialogue, Miguel Barbosa Huerta, governor of Puebla, mentioned that in the state they are following the example of AMLO’s 4T and the fight against corruption.

For his part, the representative of the Náhuatl people, Gabino Hernández Cruz, asked on behalf of the three Indigenous groups for the cancellation of the Tuxpan-Tula gas pipeline because it affects their environment.

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“We asked for the prohibition of mining, fracking, the hydroelectric power plant, especially the cancellation of the Tuxpan-Tula gas pipeline because it would be devastating for the fauna and the aquifer system, we ask for your help. We don’t do it out of folly or for going against the country’s development but because it is our home and we have nowhere else to go,” he stressed.

The indigenous representative applauded the fight against corruption at all levels and thanked the public policies implemented by the federal government, but he also demanded that all those who have abused their power be punished and return the resources they stole.

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