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23 September 2020

Reactivation of the Morelos Integral Project and the lack of legal certainty puts environmental defenders in Mexico at risk

  • The federal government’s statements have increased the risk and harassment against the Camp Apatlaco
  • In recent months, threats, harassment and criminalization of FPDTA-MPT defenders has intensified
  • The construction work continues despite the fact that only 1 of 17 amparos1 has been definitively resolved.
  • We call for the demand made by the FPDTA-MPT for dialogue on the PIM to be respected.

At his morning press conference on September 10, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reported the resumption of work on the Morelos Integral Project (PIM). He stated that the legal, social and ecological issues that were holding up the work had been addressed and that the project could begin operations at the end of this year. During the same conference, the Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, announced that there is no ongoing suspension and that legally all the protections had been resolved, which is why Conagua gave the necessary permits to the CFE. For her part, Diana Álvarez, Director of Banco del Bienestar, claimed that there had been several approaches to the ejidatarios2 after the 2019 citizen consultation.

Red-TDT, made up of 86 human rights organizations in 23 states of the Republic, Front Line Defenders and the Information Center on Business and Human Rights (CIEDH), who accompany the People's Front in Defense of Land and Water - Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala (FPDTA-MPT) express our grave concern about the federal government’s statements, since the announcement of the reactivation of the project makes its members vulnerable and will worsen the local context in the three states in which aggressions against defenders, including those maintaining Zapatista Camp in Apatlaco, are common.

It is important to remember that the consultation carried out in the communities had little participation and took place three days after the murder of Samir Flores, a land and water rights defender. At the time, the FPDTA-MPT denounced that the consultation was discriminatory, illegal and denigrating, due to the way in which the right to consultation of indigenous peoples was violated, which was confirmed by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in the processing of the complaints initiated against the PIM and noted in Recommendation No. 3/2018.

With respect to the legal situation of the various lawsuits filed against the PIM, the FPDTA-MPT has indicated that there are 17 amparos filed against the project and that only one has been definitively resolved, with 8 suspensions and one amparo ruling on prior consultation being in effect. It also points out that the amparos cited by Secretary Sánchez Cordero refer to 2 of 8 suspensions that were resolved in a very questionable manner. In summary, the situation of the amparos at present is:

  • The ejidos of Moyotepec, Tenextepago, Abelardo L. Rodríguez, Lorenzo Vázques and Valle de Vázquez have suspensions that prevent the use of water for the thermoelectric plant.
  • Huexca has a suspension that prevents the discharge of purge water from the thermoelectric plant.
  • Amilcingo has a suspension that prevents the operation of the Morelos Gas Pipeline.
  • Atlixco has a sentence that protects the communities in relation to the Morelos Gas Pipeline, which requires a free, prior, good faith and adequate consultation, which has not yet been concluded.
  • The dismissal of the San Juan Ahuehueyo injunction is particularly questionable, since the expert from the judicial body came from Conagua, the authority that was being challenged.

In addition to the legal status - which contradicts what the federal executive has declared - we note with great concern that, according to our documentation, there is an increase in harassment, threats, and persecution against people who defend the territory against the various works of the PIM. We also note that these actions occur within a framework of impunity and lack of access to justice.

We make an urgent call to the authorities to guarantee the self-determination and autonomy of indigenous peoples, taking into account that Mexico is the second most dangerous country in Latin America for defending the rights of indigenous peoples from business projects, with 49 attacks since 2015, as documented by the ICHRP. Misleading public statements and lack of access to justice increases criminalization, harassment, and aggressions against people who defend communities and create conditions for social polarization and the breakdown of the community fabric.

In a scenario of increasing risk for human rights defenders and serious consequences for indigenous Nahua peoples and the environment, it is necessary to protect and guarantee the integrity of environmental defenders, and not to ignore, underestimate, or hide information about the legal processes of existing amparos, and, more importantly, to listen to and serve the affected communities.

We call on the various Mexican government institutions to:

1. Respect the demand for dialogue on the PIM, presented through the statement of September 10, published by the FPDTA- MPT.

2. Publicly clarify the legal situation of the Morelos Integral Project.

3. Guarantee the right to consultation and consent of indigenous peoples.

4. Guarantee the security and life of those who participate in the Apatlaco Camp and all those who make up the FPDTA-MPT.

5. Avoid any violent evictions from the Zapatista Camp in Apatlaco.

6. Investigate and solve the murder of Samir Flores and punish those responsible.


Front Line Defenders
Information Center on Business and Human Rights (CIEDH)


1 A writ of amparo is a remedy for protection of constitutional rights.

2 Ejidatarios do not own the land but are allowed to use their allotted parcels indefinitely as long as they do not fail to use the land for more than two years.