Land Grabbing Illustrated

10 Apr 2014

In the Sierra Norte mountain range, 300 km from Mexico, the indigenous Náhuat and Totanac peoples are facing a new threat. The mining industry, with its hydroelectric power stations and other accompanying infrastructure, is endangering this region’s lush nature and the future of these resident indigenous communities and their ancient traditions. These include a traditional form of apiculture which uses the small and docile native bee to produce honey, protected by Slow Food through a Presidium project.


The plans to exploit the area’s resources are extensive. In the Presidium’s area, three mining concessions have been publicized in recent months. And as we have already reported, a hydroelectric power station is now planned for the same area, in order to produce electricity for the mining industry.


From Mexico, José Ernesto Vazquez Chanico, an artist who has been depicting the traditions of his indigenous community for over 40 years, is working to communicate this situation. In San Miguel Tzinacapan, where he lives, he is known as “Don Ernesto.” He has recently illustrated a booklet on land grabbing for Slow Food – Land Grabbing: A Mexican Presidium Under Threat. Using delicate line drawings, the booklet illustrates the dangers facing his land.


“My region has an enormous wealth of culture and biodiversity, which risks being swallowed up by the mining projects,” he explains. “I hope that those who see my drawings will understand this serious injustice.”


Various protests are underway. The Consejo Tiyat Tlali, which unites different Sierra Norte organizations working to protect the environment, is trying to inform the indigenous peoples about the imminent dangers. Don Ernesto’s book will soon be distributed here, translated in the Náhuat and Totanac language.


“We are organizing meetings with the local communities to warn them about the projects underway,” says Leonardo Durán Olguín, the honey Presidium’s coordinator. “It is also important that people elsewhere know what is going on in this region. The people have a right to decide how to preserve their land. We have to help them have this right respected.”


See the comic strip Land Grabbing: A Mexican Presidium Under Threat, illustrated by José Ernesto Vazquez Chanico. 


The publication is also available here in Nahuatl, Italian, French and Spanish. To request a printable version, or send us your comments, write to: [email protected]


To see the booklet Let’s Expose Land Grabbing! and other publications from the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, visit:


Other organizations: 

Consejo Tiyat Tlali

Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería

Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos

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