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.
“No Maize Es No Pais”: Accounting as Artistic Practice
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.
A Brief History of Mexico’s Transoceanic Trade Route
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.
Lapiztola + Chiquitraca: Collective Crises
Oaxaca’s renowned street art is rooted in the political upheaval and months-long protests that enveloped the city in the summer 2006 and cemented a legacy of subversive, underground public art that continues to thrive today.
Harbour Blues, Salina Cruz
Rafael Mayoral recalls spending the idylls of his youth in Salina Cruz and the three development projects that ultimately devastated the gritty port city and left fallow farmlands, water shortages, and urban poverty in their wake.
Confessions of a Looted Soul
Victor Terán has long used poetry to preserve Zapotec language, but as wind farms envelop his hometown of Juchitán, his words have become weapons of resistance to post-colonial development that threatens the future of Zapotec culture.
Guardians of the Wind Farms
A Zapotec activist from Juchitán, Oaxaca is organizing an indigenous resistance movement to combat violent land appropriation for wind farms and extractive development projects while facing threats to his life.
Butterfly with Broken Wings
Near a small village on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the brother of celebrated muxe performance artist Lukas Avendaño vanished one afternoon, leading him on a two year journey in search of his brother or his remains.
Isthmus at the Crossroads
The grisly murders of 15 Iko’ots activists in July 2020 created a wave of backlash that pitted community leaders against one another and threatens to undermine communal governance structures among one of Mexico’s most unintegrated Indigenous groups.
Oaxacan hip hop crew Juchirap has gained acclaim as one of Mexico’s up and coming acts, earning praise for their old-school rhythms and performances in their native Diidxazá (Zapotec) language.
The Veins That Bind Us
A documentary film series celebrating indigenous solidarity and creative resistance across Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
The Veins That Bind Us: Part 2
Episodes 3 & 4 of the Las Venas documentary film series from Veracruz, Mexico.