About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Protections on Private Property

During the Carlos Salinas de Gortari administration the technocrats and the president rushed to amend the 1917 Constitution to "protect" private property ownership from the threat of expropriation of land. Communal property - ejidos - were out of control according to the technocrats and their US counterparts in business, and that stripping the state of the power to seize private property was a way to guarantee US investment in Mexico. In the United States, they argued, private property is sacrosanct. Well, unless...

Oil companies blazing a trail across the mid-western United States to build an oil pipeline are threatening private land owners with eminent domain to force the sale of land. And who is doing the bullying? TransCanada - the Canadian oil giant that wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Caray. Up the road in Montana the legislature is trying to pry federal land out of the hands of the US government so that they can offer the property up for the use of mining and oil companies. I suppose that during this 100 year celebration of the Mexican Revolution that US land owners get a firsthand exposure to the bullying that brought about the rebellion of their southern neighbors.

The stripping of community land as well as private land from the hands of small agriculturalists and the public is no new story. I suggest to readers in Montana and Nebraska the fine titles of Thread of Blood, by Ana Maria Alonso, We Come to Object by Arturo Warman, and David Correia in the Radical History Review on the Gorras Blancas of New Mexico and the loss of land in that state (Issue 108, Fall 2010). I guess they'll have something to read after they've been kicked off their farms - well, during that fifteen minute break at the Motel 6 where they'll work making beds for the pipeline workers passing through town.

No comments: