Extractivismo: Oaxaca

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.

Harbor Blues, Salina Cruz

Justin Kiersky, Denver, United States 

“I remember the city before the refinery,” says Rafael Mayoral, a middle-aged professor and self-described activist in defense of the land. He is tall, broad-chested with a shock of salt-and-pepper hair that blows wildly in the violent Tehuano winds. “It...

Lapiztola + Chiquitraca: Collective Crises

Sidd Joag, New York City, United States 

In May of 2006, Rosario Martinez and Roberto Vega were fresh out of design school when the annual teachers union strike took on a sinister character as an explosive social movement of street protests turned into an seven-month war between...

A Brief History of Mexico’s Transoceanic Trade Route

Justin Kiersky, Denver, United States 

“The mind is bewildered with the difficulty of embracing in one comprehensive view the astonishing consequences that would result from a communication between the two oceans, by means of which ships sailing from Europe will save two thousand leagues, and...

“No Maize Es No Pais”: Accounting as Artistic Practice

Sidd Joag, New York City, United States 

“Why is Mexico hinging its future on a neoliberal economic model when it’s failing everywhere in the world?” asks Edith Morales, a conceptual artist from Oaxaca whose work draws paradoxically from her Mixe roots and her background in accounting. Her...