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News Article

Maya Communities Accept One of Three Pig Farms

By Pedro Alcalá | Wed, 07/28/2021 - 15:19

After an official consultation that took place over the weekend, results show that only one of three pig farms currently operating in Mayan indigenous communities in Yucatan has been given the green light; the other two have not given the environmental risk that they represent.

Controversy over these kinds of pig farms was reignited in April when El Pais published a landmark report on the efforts made by children from indigenous communities to stop the ongoing construction of pig farms in the area of Yucatan known as the “Cenote Ring”, a concentration of underground water reservoirs of strategic importance to the sustenance of local populations. 

Communities argued that the lack of appropriate waste processing facilities installed in these farms meant that pollution of these reservoirs was inevitable and also extremely hazardous to the state’s water supply, since as much as 70 percent of such supply is calculated as being sourced from these reservoirs. 

A study by Greenpace revealed that 257 pig farms are currently running in the state of Yucatan; only 22 of them have the environmental impact assessment required by law. These industrial pig farms can hold almost 50,000 pigs which are delivered to large food exporters, one of the biggest one being Kekén, a company which is routinely mentioned in these reports. 

The exponentially growing demand for pig meat in the Asian markets means that the commercial incentives for the development of these pig farms is likely to continue increasing as well. 

The three indigenous communities that were consulted were Celestun, San Fernando and Kinchil. In Celestun, the negative vote was almost unanimous, with 1,101 votes against the farm and only seven in favor. In the other two communities, however, the vote was a lot closer. In San Fernando, only one vote decided that the farm should not be approved by the community, with 58 votes in favor and 59 votes against. Conversely, in Kinchil, the single approval for the continued operation of the nearby farm was decided by 153 votes, with 576 votes in favor and 423 against. 

A local activist organization called Equipo Indignación covered the consultation (all other national and international media outlets quoted their coverage), and claimed that the process was affected by a climate of high social tensions caused by the presence of representatives from the companies operating the pig farms, who threatened participants, attacked the validity of the consultation and offered bribes and payments in exchange for votes and results. The process was also observed by national and international human rights watchdog groups and NGOs, but government authorities were not present, which means that the legally actionable nature of these consultations is still to be determined.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
El País, Greenpeace, Equipo Indignación
Photo by:   SADER
Pedro Alcalá Pedro Alcalá Journalist and Industry Analyst