For Immediate Release, April 7, 2021

Contact:

Hannah Connor, Center for Biological Diversity, +1 (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org (for English)
Alejandro Olivera, Center for Biological Diversity, +52 (612) 104-0604, aolivera@biologicaldiversity.org
Angélica Simón, Greenpeace Mexico, +52 (555) 534-3544, angelica.simon@greenpeace.org
Alberto Velázquez, Indignación, +52 (999) 902-5177, yuumbeto@gmail.com

Mexican Officials Urged to Address Violations of Mayan Sovereign Rights Caused by Construction of Industrial Pig Farms in Yucatán Peninsula

Groups Call for Moratorium on Construction, Expansion of Factory Farms

LA PAZ, Mexico— The Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace Mexico submitted a formal request today urging the Mexican government to respect the sovereign right of Indigenous communities under Mexican law and to basic human rights, including self-determination and consultation, on the permitting and operation of industrial pig farms in the states of Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo.

The groups also asked that the government agree to a request from the Mayan peoples for a moratorium on all approvals of new industrial pig farms and expansions until the issues of the rights of the Mayan people and ongoing damage to air and water quality, biodiversity and human health are resolved.

The request is in support of the group of 21 Mayan communities that filed a regional complaint with a series of concerns regarding the government’s failure to consult Indigenous groups before approving environmentally destructive industrial pig farms in the region.

The complaint was prepared and filed by the human rights organization Indignación. It was addressed to the heads of the Federal Attorney’s Office for Environmental Protection of the federal government, Blanca Alicia Mendoza Vera; the National Water Commission, Blanca Jiménez Cisneros; and the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources of the federal government, María Luisa Albores González.

“The Mexican government’s unilateral approval of industrial pig farming in Indigenous territory ignored the rights and health of local communities,” said Alejandro Olivera, the Mexico representative of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The plants and animals of the Mayan jungle make up one of the world’s most stunning biodiversity hotspots. The unfettered growth of destructive factory farms is accelerating the region’s loss of wildlife and helping to fuel the global extinction crisis.”

The Mayan jungle of the Yucatán Peninsula provides numerous plant and animal resources for food and medicine. It also supplies critical habitat to countless species of plants and animals, including imperiled spider monkeys and jaguars, as well as fungi and microorganisms.

The Yucatán Peninsula currently has approximately 257 registered industrial pig farms that produce more than 1 million animals a year for slaughter, 14% of Mexico’s production capacity. Of those registered operations, 86% are located in the state of Yucatán with the remainder in the states of Quintana Roo and Campeche. The distribution of operations in the state of Yucatán is mostly concentrated in the municipalities surrounding the city of Mérida.

As documented in the Greenpeace report The Meat That is Consuming the Planet, the unchecked growth of industrial pig farming has degraded the air, soil and water of the Yucatán peninsula.

“It is crucial to regulate the existing pig industry in the Yucatan Peninsula to avoid an ecosystemic catastrophe, and then transform the pig meat production model at the industrial level from the roots,” said Viridiana Lazaro, food and agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Mexico.

Since 2018 children from the Mayan town of Homún have also been fighting in federal and administrative courts in Mexico to defend the area’s vast natural resources and their Indigenous rights against the development and operation of a 49,000-pig factory farm owned by Producción Alimentaria Porcícola. The case, which has resulted in the suspension of the farm’s operations, is set to be heard by the Mexican Supreme Court later this year.

The Yucatán Peninsula is host to four sites protected by the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that protects spectacular wetlands: Laguna de Terminos, Ring of Cenotes Geohydrological Reserve, Laguna de Yalahau State Park and Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve. The Ring of Cenotes Geohydrological Reserve, located in Homún on a site of global importance where the Chicxulub impactor hit Earth 65 million years ago and drove the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, is put most at risk by these operations.

“Pollution from the Yucatán’s industrial pig operations falls disproportionately on the Indigenous Maya,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center. “The time is now for Mexico’s environmental authorities to respond to the sovereign claims made by these communities and promptly address the serious harms this industry poses to Indigenous rights, the environment and the water they depend on.”

Cenotes in Homun, Mexico
Cenotes in Homún, Mexico/Gaston Bailo Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Greenpeace is a global, politically and economically independent environmental organization that seeks changes in public policies, corporate practices and culture, to face the threats of climate change and stop the loss of biodiversity through disruptive campaigns to encourage action by the people.

Indignación is a non-governmental organization. We develop our work independently and autonomously from any power: government, political party, etc. We organized ourselves as a team and began to work in May 1991. Our goal is to promote and defend human rights from a comprehensive, multicultural and gender perspective.