Real estate development generates conflict among the residents of Chablekal

Photo: (La jornada maya)

The inhabitants are dissatisfied with the way in which the ejidos are marketed

Merida, Yucatan, (September 07, 2021).- The excessive real estate development in the vicinity of Chablekal has triggered clashes between relatives, who are disputing the future of the land: if it is sold to real estate developers or it is enabled as an ecological reserve. 

The Chablekal Settlers Union has waged a legal fight for seven years to recognize the right of the inhabitants of the Chablekal community to own the lands and participate in decision-making regarding the hundreds of hectares that are owned by the Ejidatarios, a group of 260 people, including at least 60 businessmen. 

“The agrarian reform gave land to only a few, our parents and grandparents, but it did not take into account women or the rest of the inhabitants. The total control of the territory cannot depend on 260 people when there are 3,000 of us in the town, ” explains Randy Soberanes, from the Union of Chablekal Settlers. 

The protesters claim the right to land and territory because it is an ancestral right for being part of the Maya community and for being “children of Chablekal.” 

“These forests are ancestral, they do not belong to the ejido, they even existed before the group existed. They are Maya lands that must belong to the Maya, ”says Randy. 

The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the Ejidatarios accuse that the sale of these lands, which generates real estate speculation, has not benefited the population at all, on the contrary, it leaves the community behind in front of the surrounding residential complexes. 

For example, in Chablekal there is no space in the cemetery, there is no high school and there are no social programs for the benefit of the community. 

The Ejidatarios do not seek to work the land, they only want the money and they do not care for the local fauna, archaeological remains, or timber trees, all they want is to sell the land to Real Estate companies son they can destroy the ecosystem and build a housing development”, claims Andrés Chim. 

Of the more than a thousand hectares that are still intact in the ejido, the Union of Settlers of Chablekal requests 300 to preserve as a natural reserve and to protect all the flora and fauna that live there, such as medicinal plants, deer, wild turkeys, reptiles and birds.

“Our ancient grandparents used to say ‘the mountain has a natural function, it is a home for animals and plants, it is where clean air comes from. We claim our right to take care of it,” explains José Euán, a member of the Union.

“The problem is that they do not own the land and only the Ejidatarios decide what happens with the space and they are the only ones who receive the money from the sales”, José Euan continued. 

The Ejidatarios now deny the rights of the Maya people in Chablekal and they are disqualifying the same argument they used when demanding their right in the archaeological zone of Dzibilchaltún: 

The Ejido de Chablekal, Municipality of Mérida, State of Yucatán is made up of Ejidatarios and indigenous peoples belonging to the Maya ethnic group, a class recognized by all the dependencies of the Government of the Republic … the same ejido that still preserves its ancestral Maya culture traditions”, the Ejidatarios stated in a point of agreement before the Mexican Senate. 

In this regard, the Union recalls that all the inhabitants of Chablekal are Maya and recognition must be for all, in all situations and not for just a few at convenience.  

Broken families 

The defense of the lands of the Ejido de Chablekal has broken entire families, as both sides defend their arguments. 

“Our parents and grandparents insult us when they see us on the street, they demand that we want to protect and not let them sell,” says Randy. 

The lawsuit for the right to land and territory, which was presented on October 10, 2014, before the Agrarian Court, precisely accuses parents and grandparents of some members of the Union of denying possession of the territory to the community. 

In addition, an Ejidatario only has the possibility of inheriting the agrarian right to one person, regardless of whether he or she has a large family. 

“When an Ejidatario dies and names only one of his children as his heir, fights break out because that land is sold and the heir is the only one who receives the money. So other members of the family complain, in many cases, there are widows who are left with nothing, ” says Don José. 

The legal fight 

The Union has achieved that in the 300-hectare polygon of Monte Misnebalam that they claim for the community, a judge declares a suspension of activities that prevents renting, selling, or parceling until there is a sentence in the trial for the right to the land that is in process in the Agrarian Court. 

Therefore, currently, the area cannot be offered for sale and the team has taken the time to study it and with the help of specialists has found springs, archaeological remains and has already made a catalog of the plant species that exist there. 

They insist that they will not give up their right because the ejido commissioners have not sought the future of the community. 

“The money they earn from the sale of the land doesn’t even stay in Chablekal. They sell, they spend, they sell again. There are many Ejidatarios who make a living from that, they do not work and keep selling land to live with luxuries ”, highlights Andrés Chim. 

Pending the ruling of the Agrarian Court, the team already enlists all the necessary defense to escalate before other instances, if necessary. 

“The constitution protects our identity as Maya people, international treaties, which Mexico has already ratified, defend our right, so there is no possibility that the court will have an argument against us. However, we know that we fight against powerful businessmen, so the court is only the first step of all our possibilities that can reach the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, ” explains Don José.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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