martes, mayo 03, 2005

No May Flowers

The burnings of plots of land for the summer crops of corn is an annual occurrence in Mexico, and the Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa region of the State of Guerrero is no exception. Although such burnings are supposed to be illegal, apparently no "responsible authorities" enforce this law (as so many others laws go equally unenforced). El Cerro Viejo (the big hill behind Zihuatanejo seen in many picture post card photos) was partially burned yesterday afternoon and evening, and this morning the residents and visitors of Zihuatanejo awoke to a dense layer of smoke. In Ixtapa fires have been seen burning for days in Barrio Viejo (San José de Ixtapa) and the lands all the way up the sierra. Billowing clouds of smoke spread out across the hills and valleys and off into the ocean. While they do provide for colorful sunsets, they are also responsible not only for the air pollution but later the erosion that comes with the rains, removing what is left of any topsoil and making the land barren and arid. Mexico is actively promoting the desertification of our country by permitting these burnings to continue. Often the burnings aren't simply for agricultural purposes but also have a darker side, if that is possible. Each year tens of thousands of hectares of our forests are lost. Fires allow access to areas not only for loggers but also for squatters who steal our lands, and each year following local fires squatters occupy more lands cleared by those fires. Again, although squatting is illegal, no one enforces the law unless they see a political or economic benefit, such as running off other squatters in order to allow a new group of squatters who enjoy protection from certain powerful and influential politicians and caciques. Although our current mayor promised no more illegal invasions of lands would be tolerated, under his 3-year term we have seen more illegal invasions than in the ten previous years, many thanks to his campaign declaration that since he didn't put them there (though his and other political parties did) that he would not remove them. We have also seen other designated ecological zones have their land designations changed under this city administration, that was supposed to be ecologically friendly, in order to allow developers to cut roads and clear woodlands on what's left of our bayside hills for the building of new "megaprojects" for tourism and affluent "wannabe" residents, even though that was supposed to be the purpose for the existence of Ixtapa, leaving Zihuatanejo to its own natural growth. Zoning laws were quickly and quietly changed behind closed doors to accommodate developers. And thus the future of Zihuatanejo was sold out by the "government of change", the "government of the poor", the government that was supposed to replace the bad old corrupt politicians from the party that had governed Guerrero since the Revolución! No May flowers in Zihuatanejo this year, only smoke and fire and the continued rape of what should be paradise.

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