PROTESTORS FORCE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER WHETHER TO PROCEED WITH CONSTRUCTION OF NEW MEXICO CITY AIRPORT.President Vicente Fox's administration may seek a different location for the new Mexico New Mexico, state in the SW United States. At its northwestern corner are the so-called Four Corners, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet at right angles; New Mexico is also bordered by Oklahoma (NE), Texas (E, S), and Mexico (S). City international airport because of a groundswell ground·swell
1. A sudden gathering of force, as of public opinion: a groundswell of antiwar sentiment.
2. of opposition at the site that had been chosen near the dry Texcoco lake bed in Mexico state.
Fox mentioned the possibility of selecting another site during an interview with US-based CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. . The president's comments followed a series of violent confrontations between affected landowners and law-enforcement authorities from Mexico state and the federal police (Policia Federal Preventiva, PFP PFP - Plastic Flat Package ).
The landowners, many of whom are communal farmers from nearby San Salvador Atenco San Salvador Atenco is the Municipal seat of Atenco, in the Mexican state of Mexico.
San Salvador Atenco has received wide media coverage both in 2002and 2006 , have opposed locating the airport in Texcoco since the site was first announced in October 2001. The site was selected because of lower costs and proximity to the Mexico City Mexico City
Spanish Ciudad de México
City (pop., 2000: city, 8,605,239; 2003 metro. area est., 18,660,000), capital of Mexico. Located at an elevation of 7,350 ft (2,240 m), it is officially coterminous with the Federal District, which occupies 571 sq mi metropolitan area (see SourceMex, 2001-10-31). The Texcoco site would displace 34,000 persons, while the proposed Tizayuca location in Hidalgo Hidalgo, state, Mexico
Hidalgo (ēthäl`gō), state (1990 pop. 1,888,366), 8,058 sq mi (20,870 sq km), central Mexico. Pachuca de Soto is the capital. state is mostly vacant.
Landowners involved in violent clashes with police
The confrontations erupted on July 11, when about 100 residents and landowners from San Salvador Atenco blocked a nearby highway and then confronted riot police riot police n → policía antidisturbios
riot police n → forces fpl de police intervenant en cas d'émeute;
hundreds of riot police → . The clashes resulted in more than a dozen injuries.
The leaders of the demonstration were taken into custody, prompting some of the remaining protestors to take city officials, police officers, and other bystanders hostage. The protestors said they would free the hostages in exchange for the release of their arrested leaders, who were being held by Mexico state authorities. The two sides remained at a standoff for four days, with Mexico state authorities threatening to try the demonstration leaders and the protestors threatening to kill their hostages. The standoff finally ended on July 15, when Mexico state authorities released the imprisoned im·pris·on
tr.v. im·pris·oned, im·pris·on·ing, im·pris·ons
To put in or as if in prison; confine.
[Middle English emprisonen, from Old French emprisoner : en- leaders and the protestors allowed all their hostages to go free.
Even with the easing of tensions, the protestors did not immediately remove their highway blockade to show their continuing resolve to block construction of the airport in their community. The demonstrators received support from representatives of environmental organizations, which had protested the Texcoco site because of the danger to thousands of birds (see SourceMex, 2000-08-29).
The protestors were also joined by scores of university students, who saw the protest against the airport as another opportunity to express their opposition to Fox's economic policies, which rely heavily on foreign investment.
Farmers welcomed the involvement of the students and environmental activists, although they expressed surprise that the protest grew so big. "This didn't start out as an anti-globalization demonstration," a San Salvador Atenco farmer told the Associated Press Associated Press: see news agency.
Associated Press (AP)
Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. . "But if the movement means survival, then I'm anti-globalization."
Ruben Lechuga, an anthropologist at the Universidad Iberoamericana The Ibero-American University (commonly known as Ibero, Spanish: Universidad Iberoamericana) is a private higher education institution sponsored by the Society of Jesus. in Mexico City, said the protests unified the farmers. "Before the protest, some younger members were willing to negotiate a sale of land to the government," said Lechuga. "Now things have changed, and the words you hear most are 'we won't sell.'"
To obtain the land for the airport, the government had proposed expropriating about 5,200 hectares, including about 1,000 ha in San Salvador Atenco.
Among the initial objections from some of the farmers was that the government was offering below-market compensation for the land. Interior Secretary Santiago Creel Santiago Creel Miranda (b. December 11 1954 in Mexico city) is a Mexican politician. He is a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
He earned a Law degree from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). said the Fox administration had been willing to raise the offers considerably but was hampered by tight legal restrictions in the expropriation The taking of private property for public use or in the public interest. The taking of U.S. industry situated in a foreign country, by a foreign government.
Expropriation is the act of a government taking private property; Eminent Domain is the legal term describing the decree approved in October. Only a federal judge is authorized to raise the prices offered to landowners.
Ultimately, the Mexican supreme court (Suprema Corte de Justica de la Nacion, SCJN SCJN Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (Mexico) ) could have the last word on expropriation. SCJN Chief Justice Genaro David Gongora Pimentel said the court has scheduled hearings on Aug. 17 to allow the landowners and various government entities to present testimony.
Ricardo Mendez Silva, a legal expert at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), said the Fox administration and Mexico state Gov. Arturo Montiel Rojas made a serious mistake by imposing expropriation on the landowners in San Salvador Atenco rather than reaching a prior agreement.
Government to negotiate with protestors
Deputy interior secretary Ramon Martin Huerta said the airport would not be constructed in Texcoco unless an agreement was reached with the farmers. "We refuse to build this airport if it means having to station armed guards at the construction site," said Huerta. The government has not set a date for negotiations, however.
Huerta's comments were followed by Fox's statements that his administration was willing to consider other options besides Texcoco. "We are not going to bulldoze bull·doze
v. bull·dozed, bull·doz·ing, bull·dozes
1. To clear, dig up, or move with a bulldozer.
2. To treat in an abusive manner; bully.
3. the rights of anyone," he said. "There are options for this airport. Various alternatives have been open to debate from the beginning."
The decision to reconsider options for the new airport does not mean that the government has abandoned the Texcoco site. "We will continue the dialogue with the communal farmers from San Salvador Atenco and will await a ruling from the SCJN," said Creel.
The government had expected to select contractors to construct the terminal sometime this summer, but the concessions may have to be postponed. As of mid-June, the airports agency (Aeropuertos y Auxiliares, ASA Asa (ā`sə), in the Bible, king of Judah, son and successor of Abijah. He was a good king, zealous in his extirpation of idols. When Baasha of Israel took Ramah (a few miles N of Jerusalem), Asa bought the help of Benhadad of Damascus and ) had received bids from six different Mexican-foreign partnerships to construct the Texcoco site. The groups included a total of 26 companies, 16 of which were Mexican. Of the 10 foreign companies, seven were based in the US, two in Britain, and one in France.
The Mexican Congress is also expected to weigh in on the controversy. The Senate's communications and transportation committee (Comision de Comunicaciones y Transportes) has scheduled an "urgent" hearing to examine the various alternatives for the airport.
A decision to move the airport could revive interest in the Tizayuca site, although some experts say the government remains concerned about the expense of building up infrastructure at this location.
Another alternative, proposed by Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the Confederacion de Camaras Industriales (CONCAMIN CONCAMIN Confederacion de Camaras Industriales (Spanish: Confederation of Industrial Chambers)
CONCAMIN Confederation of Industrial Chambers (Mexico) ), is to add a third runway to the existing Benito Juarez airport. This could buy the government another 20 years while another alternative is considered. This option is also difficult because it would displace many more people than would be displaced at Texcoco.
Among other possibilities is a proposal by Morelos Gov. Sergio Estrada Cajigal to construct the new airport in his state. But critics says Estrada's proposal could run into the same obstacles as Texcoco, since the site would displace farmers from three communal farms (ejidos). Estrada is a member of Fox's center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN).
Decision could have some political implications
A decision to move the airport could be perceived as a political loss for Fox, who wants the new air terminal to be part of his presidential legacy. But Fox's political loss would be minor compared with that of Mexico state Gov. Montiel and his party, the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI PRI: see Institutional Revolutionary party.
(Primary Rate Interface) An ISDN service that provides 23 64 Kbps B (Bearer) channels and one 64 Kbps D (Data) channel (23B+D), which is equivalent to the 24 channels of a T1 line. ). Montiel and several powerful economic interests, including the family of the late Carlos Hank Gonzalez, were said to be pulling strings to have the airport located in Mexico state (see SourceMex, 2001-08-29).
Montiel downplayed Fox's comments that the airport could be moved, insisting that the federal government has not wavered from its commitment to locate the terminal in Texcoco. "At no time have authorities considered canceling this project," Montiel told reporters.
Relocation of the airport could benefit Lopez Obrador's political ambitions, since he has become known for his staunch opposition to the Texcoco site. Lopez Obrador is one of several possible contenders to represent the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD PRD
progressive retinal degeneration. ) in the 2006 presidential election.
Earlier this year, the Mexico City mayor failed in an effort to block the administration from opening the bidding for construction of the Texcoco site to private companies. The SCJN agreed to consider the mayor's arguments, but refused to block ASA from considering bids.
The mayor said he was gratified grat·i·fy
tr.v. grat·i·fied, grat·i·fy·ing, grat·i·fies
1. To please or satisfy: His achievement gratified his father. See Synonyms at please.
2. by Fox's decision to reopen the possibility of locating the airport at a site other than Texcoco. "This is a prudent attitude," said Lopez Obrador.
Lopez Obrador's PRD released a statement fully supporting the protestors. Party president Rosario Robles led a group of PRD representatives to join the protestors. But that decision did not sit well with all party members. PRD Sen. Raymundo Cardenas said his party should have denounced the violent methods of some of the protestors, rather than offer its unqualified support.
Fox has received a mixed reaction among PAN legislators. Critics like PAN Sen. Carlos Madrazo joined with their PRI colleagues in attacking Fox's decision to "cave in" to the protestors and reopen the possibility of sites other than Texcoco. But Sen. Javier Corral corral
a small fenced-in enclosure with high, wooden fences, suitable for holding cattle or horses.
a management system in which range cattle are put into corrals and fed hay for a period when the environment is most , who chairs the communications and transportation committee, said the president's decision was appropriate. "The landowners in San Salvador Atenco made it clear that they are not negotiating for higher prices for their land. They simply do not want to give up their lands for an airport, said Corral. "That's why we have to start looking at alternatives." (Sources: El Financiero, 07/11/02; The Dallas Morning News, The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times, CNI (1) (Certified NetWare Instructor) See Novell certification.
(2) (Coalition for Networked Information, Washington, DC, www.cni.org) A partnership of the Association of Research Libraries, CAUSE and EDUCOM, founded in 1990. en Linea, 07/15/02; Associated Press, 07/11/02, 07/14-16/02; Reuters, 07/14/02, 07/16/02; Agencia de Noticias Proceso, 07/16/02; Reforma, 06/07/02, 06/19/02, 06/24/02, 07/12/02, 07/15-17/02; La Cronica de Hoy, 06/19/02, 07/12/02, 07/15-17/02; Milenio Diario, 06/24/02, 07/12/02, 07/15-17/02; La Jornada, Notimex, Novedades, El Universal, 07/12/02, 07/15- 17/02; Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
Morning daily newspaper. Established in 1881, it was purchased and incorporated in 1884 by Harrison Gray Otis (1837–1917) under The Times-Mirror Co. (the hyphen was later dropped from the name). , 07/14/02, 07/16/02, 07/17/02; The News, 07/16/02, 07/17/02; Unomasuno, 07/17/02)