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UPDATE: On the climate caravan to Mexico City

We started today with about 300 kilometres to go in our climate caravan journey to Mexico City.

7 am – Last night we slept on the floor of a recreation hall located just outside Salamanca. A hard floor softened by solidarity and community.

9:30 am – After a delicious breakfast (sweet bread, beans, oranges, coffee) at the hall, we started to load the bus in order to continue our caravan journey to Mexico City.

Across the dirt road we saw 100 acres or more of fields, flood irrigated (a very water intensive method of irrigation), with lettuce produced for export. This is one of the concerns we heard yesterday afternoon in Dolores Hidalgo – flood irrigation being used for export crops when people don’t have clean drinking water. This can also be understood as virtual water exports, particularly concerning in water-scarce countries.

As we leave town in the daylight we can now see the petrochemical industry skyline that the speakers told us about last night.

11:45 am – It’s almost noon hour and we’ve passed the second toll booth in two hours. The toll seems to be about $6 for about 100 kilometres. We’ve seen two more since.

2 pm – We are approaching Pachuca. Here we met with representatives of the Electrical Workers Union. We are told that 40,000 of their members were fired without notice by the public power company. They went on a hunger for a month to try to get answers. They say this fight is making them stronger and that they will not give up.

Albert, a power worker in Nunavut, and Louise from the PSAC gave greetings them from Canada.

Then we heard about toxic garbage dump just five kilometres from Zimapan, a town two hours from here. The town’s water is polluted by arsenic. The people have a high rate of cancer.

A speaker from the Movimento Civico Todos Somos Zimapan said her community is fighting against this transnational imposed agenda.

She says the company doesn’t care about life. Geologically the dump isn’t viable, she says. But the company doesn’t care.

She says her community wants life, not garbage in the earth. They will block streets, they will get the government to notice this problem.

It’s difficult to not be overwhelmed by the struggles in just the few communities we have visited these two past days. But our task – for now – is to hear these stories, share them with others, and understand that these are struggles are not somehow separate, they are struggles that we share.

We have one more community stop then on to Mexico City.

5:45 pm – We have just arrived in the municipality of Ecatepec, near Mexico City. There are more than a hundred people gathered here to meet us.

The first speaker shared with us news about two mega-projects – a housing project of one million homes (which would remove the land to grow food), and the largest garbage dump in the country (an incinerator to burn 30,000 tons of garbage a day). He says the incinerator would be just a few kilometres away, and will cause health problems.

The incinerators, he says, will burn garbage from Canada and the United States.

Other dumps will also be built to handle garbage from Mexico City, toxic garbage, and an old toxic garbage dump will be re-opened for more toxic waste. This will pollute their groundwater and two waterways.

He called for, as a solution, a zero garbage approach as they have worked on in Argentina. The next speaker says we must compost, think differently about plastics, and find solutions at the community level.

Another speaker tells us that water is coming to an end, and without water there can be no life. She says governments pretend that they are being responsible, but you can see in the nation’s budget that they do not take the environment seriously. Civil society must create consciousness on these issues, the governments will not. She implores everyone to be sustainable in their own daily lives.

Then a garbage workers union speaker highlighted that much of what goes into the garbage can be recycled. She says that people take recyclable items out of the garbage to sell to make a living, and that this in turn helps the garbage workers.

Then a man said Ecatepec lacks water, transit, housing – but the government is letting big transnational corporations to come here and make the situation even worse. This includes big grocery stores that push out smaller locally-owned stores. These are rights that are not being recognized.

A woman from ‘Encounter with Voices’ talks about migration and that people come to the city for jobs. Industrialization here had impact on the water, she adds. People who came here for jobs in the factories didn’t have access to water. There has also been a tremendous amount of extraction from the lagoon and the lake.

6:45 pm – The gathering concluded with the message that our struggles are the same. The last speaker asked that our message to Cancun be proposals for: responsible consumption, local actions, to demand public policy, to regulate regulations on natural resources, to protect our water supplies, and stop concessions of water to companies.

The gathering then concluded with a singing of the Mexican national anthem and a meal.

8 pm – Having said our goodbyes we’re getting on the buses now and in 40 minutes or so we should be arriving in Mexico City!