Recent occurrences on and near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, where goon squads apparently hired by the ominously-named Dakota Access outfit, which is building a pipeline from Canada, have many parallels with the situation in central Mexico, where the federal government is constructing what will be, if completed, one of the largest airports in the world.
In both cases:
• Contractors bring their own security forces, who use old-school weapons to attack and intimidate protesters—attack dogs at Standing Rock, clubs and rocks in Mexico.
• Contractors deny having contracted the aforementioned thugs.
• Indigenous people bear the brunt of the dispossession of their traditional lands and will suffer the bulk of the ecological consequences.
• Contractors, following the lead of Goebbels, repeat ad nauseum that they have the legal right to be there, when the native population offers evidence, suppressed by major media, that that is not the case.
• The hypocrisy of governments that present themselves to the world as leaders in the fight against climate change is manifest, as they continue to promote, condone, or, as is the case in Mexico, initiate mega-projects that perpetuate and expand the reckless use of fossil fuels.
And now, the differences: The U.S. government, as the seat of empire, sometimes makes the repression look lighter; the Mexican government has no such need for reticence. Thus killing protesting teachers and students, killing journalists, and similar shock tactics are the order of the day, especially since the arrival of Enrique Peña Nieto to the presidency in 2012. On August 18 and 19, shock troops controlled by a local official of the ruling PRI party and by companies constructing the airport and up to eighteen related freeways. Cypsa, based in the state of Guanajuato, is the principal contractor on this specific sub-project and denies involvement in the violence, though dozens of its employees waited and watched while the goons attacked and immediately resumed the laying out of the base of the freeway when the rocks stopped flying and the farmers’ property was still in flames.) The hired thugs attacked small farmers and other protesters with clubs and rocks and also went after a small group of journalists from Telesur and the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada with even more violence. After all this the goons, some as young as fifteen, burned what remained of the encampment that protesters had maintained for about two months on the ejido (communal farming space) of Tocuila, between the well-known towns of Atenco and Texcoco, about fifty minutes from Mexico City. The attack against reporters and photographers led to critical front-page coverage for the first time. Non-Mexican contractors involved in the airport project include British architect and greenwasher Norman Foster and the Parsons Corporation of Pasadena, California, accused of fraud in the “rebuilding” of Iraq. The big winner in a recent bidding process was Carlos Slim, owner of two of the largest Mexican telephone companies, Sanborn’s retail stores, Sears in Mexico, and a big chunk of the New York Times.
Recent protests against the Mexican airport have been smaller than the protests in Standing Rock and similar North American protests against fracking, partly because federal and state police conducted house to house raids in Atenco in 2006, detaining dozens of residents and reportedly sexually assaulting more than 40 women. Needless to say, these practitioners of ethnic cleansing continue to receive military aid from the United States.