In September 2018, Mexican President Lopez Obrador announced plans to develop an interoceanic railway corridor (Transistmico) that will span the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and link shipping ports on the Gulf and Pacific coasts. The project is being touted as a historic investment in the future of Mexico, one capable of modernizing the country and revitalizing the stagnant economy. In fact, it is a collection of projects that will include the development of wind energy, opening mining concessions to foreign interests, the construction of oil and natural gas pipelines across the isthmus and updating harbors to international standards. A large swath of Oaxaca and Veracruz will be designated as a “special economic zone” in an effort to attract foreign investment to the overland trade corridor and eventually replace the Panama Canal as the “most important passage in the world for international cargo.”
Extracitivismo: Oaxaca is a series of dispatches from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec that document the social, economic and environmental impacts of the Transistmico projects on communities in Oaxaca. The project explores the political dynamics of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec through the perspectives of indigenous activists, academics and artists who are allied in a broader struggle for self-determination and a voice in Oaxaca’s future.
In a small, nondescript building on the outskirts of Oaxaca, conceptual artist and accountant Edith Morales has created an experimental urban “milpa” garden to study the ancient system of Mixe agriculture and document Oaxaca’s endemic species of maize for future generations.
Since Columbus and Cortés, nearly every colonial expedition to the coasts of the Americas was driven by the desire to discover a passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and facilitate trade for the Spanish Crown. Five hundred years later, that dream will soon be realized.