Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mexican Peasants Press Government to Address Food Crisis

MEXICO CITY – Peasants from several states and Indians from the Sierra Tarahumara staged a protest in Mexico City to demand action by the government to end a food crisis that has been aggravated by the drought in northern Mexico.

Hundreds of people marched Monday from the iconic Monument to the Revolution to the Government Secretariat, the last phase of a protest that began eight days ago in Chihuahua city bent on obtaining funds to combat the scarcity of food in that region.

“We’re living in a drought that got worse over the last year and keeps us from planting our crops, so we need help urgently to be able to feed our children and adults,” Gabino Gomez, leader of the El Barzon movement in the northern state of Chihuahua, told Efe.

The protesters also demand an aid package that will fix the situation permanently and that includes measures to create jobs and save water and electricity, Gomez said.

In the mountains where the Raramuri Indian community lives the people need corn and food in general, since the aid sent by official agencies wasn’t enough for all the families, Tomas Ruiz, of the Tarahumara Supreme Council, said.

The protesters on tractors, on horseback and on foot crossed several downtown avenues on their way to the offices of the Government Secretariat.

Approaching the government building, a metal fence and a large contingent of police blocked their way, infuriating the marchers who sparked a moment of tension when they tried to knock down the fence with a tractor.

The peasants brought farm animals with them like goats and cattle to show how emaciated they were as an example of the state some livestock ranches are in that have lost so many of their animals to the drought, the worst in 70 years and that has affected 19 of Mexico’s 32 states.

“Where I work some 80 percent of the livestock have died because we don’t have either electricity or water – what little we have we bring from a nearby well like people did years ago,” protester Veronica Rios said.

After negotiating with the authorities, a group of 20 people, representatives of each of the organizations that called the march, was received by a Government Secretariat official. EFE

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