Plan Pueblo-Panama seeks Massive Development on Backs of Poor

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By Paul Hays, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) ATLANTA — Plan Puebla-Panama (PPP), first proposed by Mexican President Vicente Fox and PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institutional) leaders in September 2000, was designed to construct a grandiose development zone in nine Mexican states and seven nations of Central America.

Water, minerals, timber, petroleum, sweatshops, bioprospecting, hydroelectric dams, and even a dry canal across the states of Tabasco and Chiapas that would move container shipping from Asia to the United States and Europe, would all be given to multinational corporations.

The people of the countries would pay the costs for the corporate development.

Also to be constructed would be a toll-interstate from Panama City to Texas. Instead of supporting small roads for transport of agricultural and other products, money would flow to the giant toll-roads.

This multinational development is to be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and will cost $20 billion, the equivalent of 200 billion Mexican pesos.

The 63 million people living in the geographical zone would not own or have a say in the design of any of the developments.

Unlike MARTA or Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, governmental agencies would neither control policy nor set policy for the projects.

Of the 63 million residents in the 9 Mexican states and 7 Central American nations, 18% are indigenous, 40 percent are young people under the age of 15, 25% are illiterate, and the majority live below the official poverty level.

Few have television, some have radio and 1% have access to the World Wide Web. Over 100 languages, many of them Mayan, are spoken in the 9 states and 7 nations.

What are people doing to oppose the plan? People and organizations in Mexico, Central America, and the United States are organizing, marching, and blocking roads. They are teaching people.

The Zapatistas have made it a major issue although they are willing to compromise on electrification. They just want it done differently than Vicente Fox.

Although there is no consensus among the opposition about what kind of “development” would best aid the region, there is unity against the PPP.

The land use policy promoted by the PPP would take away lands used by indigenous peoples and campesinos. It would not fund rural development.

In fact, in 2002 the Mexican budget for PPP gave 82% of the funds to transportation issues and just 2.9% for health or social development.

About the author:

Paul Hays is a member of Congress of the People/Poor! He may be reached at pearthsolutions@aol.com

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