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Mexico Climate Politics Heat Up

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History has not been kind to the indigenous Raramuri people of the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Pushed to remote mountains of a harsh land by Spanish and mestizo colonists, the Raramuri managed to hang on to their culture while eking out an existence based on rain-fed farming and small herd grazing. In recent decades their lands have been invaded again, this time by cattlemen, loggers, miners, dope growers, tourism developers, and soldiers.

According to Mexican analyst and farm activist Victor Quintana, the United Nations named six municipalities with a large Raramuri presence as among the 10 least-developed indigenous municipalities in Mexico in 2005.

Ironically, Quintana wrote in a recent column, the Raramuri suffer water shortages and malnutrition while from their Sierra Tarahumara springs the headwaters of rivers that nourish commercial, export-oriented agriculture in the "fertile valleys" below.

"Richness and prosperity on the lower river: misery where the water is born," Quintana wrote. "And the rich Sinaloan, Sonoran, Baja Californian and Chihuahuan growers don`t pay a single cent for environmental services to the indigenous people of the Chihuahua mountains."

In another metaphoric twist to the Raramuri crisis, Chihuahua state officials are considering slaughtering thousands of wild pigs that regularly cross the border from Texas and devour what little cover is left on a rain-starved land. The meat, which one state official insisted was "tasty" and low in fat content, would then be shipped to hungry indigenous communities in the mountains. 

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