From La Via Campesina, en route to Cancun:
"THE DEATH OF THE LERMA SANTIAGO RIVER
"The second caravan performed its first act in El Salto, Jalisco, a town situated thirty kilometers from Guadalajara, on the bank of the Lerma Santiago River.
This region once had a great natural diversity of corn and vegetables. There were mangoes, plums, guava, quince, white fish, carp, catfish and lots of birds and many other species. Their pride was the Salto de Juanacatlán, a waterfall of twenty-seven meters in height and one hundred and sixty seven meters in width.
By 1900 the government had installed a hydro-electric plant and the first industry in the region. With the plant as a beginning point, industry gained power over the municipality of Salto with industrial jobs and encouraged the illusion that with industry they would gain progress and end poverty.
The population went to factories and lost their view of the river. In a few years, the lack of planning, the urbanization of the jungle and the arrival of highly polluting industries transformed a paradise into a wasteland and converted the river into a receptacle for industrial poisons and excrements.
“When we returned, the river was dead. Today we are still poor, and sick, and now we have no river”, says Enrique Enciso Rivera.
Now the town is fighting for its life and to restore hope, and received the delegations that make up the caravan with a fighting spirit.
But they will never forget that less than two years ago, Miguel Ángel López Rocha, a young boy, accidentally fell in the river, and was in a coma for nineteen days and finally died due to heavy metal poisoning, hydrogen sulfide and arsenic.
In one act on the wide porch of a house, amidst the foul odors coming from the sewers that flow into the river, the members of the caravan (delegates of local, national and provincial organizations from Texas, California, Colorado, Oregon, Florida, Illinois and Chicago, also from Quebec and France) and the fighting locals share solidarity in their fights and make commitments. The road is long and uphill, but we must continue.
Already in Morelia, Michoacán, the professors of basic education of Section XVIII of the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE) and militants of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) agreed to join the social struggles which aims to respect and preserve the environment."
Read more about La Via Campesina and the International Caravan to Cancun here ...