El Espinal, Oax.- “No one consulted us as Espinaleños, the work arrived and the local authorities decided to renew the municipal sports unit under the argument of social works, but in reality it is a work imposed by the Secretariat of Agrarian and Territorial Development and Urbano”, explains Gisela Gómez Nolasco, president of the Social Audit Committee Created in August 2022.
Gisela, originally from El Espinal, Oaxaca, who does community work with her initiative “Fuerza Istmo Colectivo” created as a result of the past earthquakes of 2017, remembers that one day she went out to do her exercises when she observed that a group of people were gathered and they He found out that the day before they had published the Public Call to be part of the Social Comptrollership Committee of a federal work and that that day was the election.
“I was surprised that there was no publicity, nor a call to form said committee, and that it happened from one day to the next.”
Gisela decided to participate. Sedatu asked those interested to elect their president, for which she proposed herself and by public vote she became President of the Committee.
The Comptroller Committee became a watchdog for compliance with the work, but its presence when demanding information began to bother those in charge of the work.
Together with the members of his committee, they officially carried out the visual inspection of the site on September 5, and for the only time he signed a minute. After that date, he has been denied an official visit, and has only had follow-up visits – September 14, October 28, November 12, December 10 – without signing the minutes, since those responsible for Sedatu have never been present.
After these visits, Gisela, a lawyer by profession, and the members of the Committee informed Sedatu in writing of the anomalies detected, they also demanded a meeting, information about the work, but there was no response.
“I saw with great sadness rusty rods that they were using, 55 dead trees that had been planted by users of the sports car in previous years, little progress in the work as of September, 9 months after the work began, they had not even worked the two soccer fields, the stands in poor condition had not been demolished but repaired, all this I included in our blog”.
The lawyer also recounts that they observed the construction of a fence along the edge of the Río de los Perros, without having sufficient precautionary measures.
The photographs that he showed as evidence show rusty rods, a fence that was demolished without it being necessary, as well as the destruction of a gym that was in optimal conditions, which was repeatedly asked not to be demolished by the athletes and neighbors. In the end, the structure was demolished, without mediating a study or diagnosis on the resistance of the material, its suitability to remain or be destroyed.
The work is in charge of the company LAP Construction, SA de CV., for the amount of $54,201,935.51 as part of the support provided by SEDATU to municipalities of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, who make up the Interoceanic Corridorone of the star projects of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
The lack of transparency of the authority and the lack of attention from the contractors to the observations of the Social Comptrollership Committee forced Gisela to look for other alternatives.
“I requested data, reports and everything related to the work from the INAI’s National Transparency Platform (PNT) and also made complaints to agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA) and the worst thing is that nothing has happened.”
According to official data provided through the INAI, the work has a percentage of financial progress of 90% without actually physically detecting that the progress corresponds to that percentage, since the Social Comptrollership Committee observes little progress of 60%. % by the end of January 2023. The project still needs to finish the tartan athletics track, the new floors of the two basketball courts, the roof of the new gym and the new east wall that is about to collapse.
The Committee has also met with athletes and has requested information from the National Water Commission (Conagua).
“On December 12, 2022, I submitted a document to Conagua to inform us if the southern part of Deportivo, which includes a professional soccer field, a tartan athletics track, a cyclone mesh fence, is or is part of the Zone Federal del Cauce del Río de los Perros, because the intention is to find out if there are permits or concessions to develop a project such as this remodeling work, in addition to knowing if there is a human risk in the southern part of the sports complex, but so far no there is no response from any agency”.
The following day and until January 4, various labor conflicts arose between the LAP Construction company and workers, who held a work stoppage on December 29, 2022, and on January 4, in a meeting in the town hall. and at the request of the municipal president, and after pressure, the workers waived their labor rights, with a minimum payment of compensation.
“All these irregularities and corruption, SEDATU knows, the local authority in charge of Joselito Valencia knows it too, it has also created internal conflicts, it really is a tense and worrying situation, because in the end we did not ask for the work, they imposed it on us, it has created conflicts and nobody takes responsibility”.
On Thursday, January 26, Gisela, representing the Committee, filed a Federal Amparo against Profepa and Conagua with the accompaniment of the Federal Public Defender’s Office to make legal representation less expensive, since the Committee does not obtain any payment for this social work.
“The expenses have been from my own resources, everything is to uncover this corruption that we have found as a result of the transparency requests, I have covered the expenses of the procedures carried out, the trips to the city of Oaxaca to present the writings before those 2 institutions, the trips to Salina Cruz to the Public Defender’s Office, all the copies, scans, transportation, per diems, my group and the sales we make online and with friends is what has helped us,” he points out.
But this is not all, Gisela has requested more documents, and in this first week of February, the INAI provided her with new information.
In the public document that he has as a witness, he indicates that from February 4 to August 26, 2022, the LAP Construction Company had received from SEDATU the amount of $33,040,303.83 (Thirty Three Million, Forty Thousand Three Hundred and Three pesos 83/100 MN). At the end of the year there were already 49 million.
The Social Comptroller Committee was constituted on August 24, 2022, and not as it should have been, since January 2022: 9 months passed for the Comptroller to supervise the work.
“We reported this situation to the Sedatu delegate in Oaxaca, but they told us that there are no updated guidelines prior to that date, and according to that, they did not constitute us, which is false, and after consulting with the public function, they informed us that the Comptroller’s Office it was subject to past guidelines from 2016, that is, the past guidelines were still in force and they could constitute us from January 2022.”
Gisela and the members of the Committee found out that three months had to pass, until March 23, 2022, when the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) informed that the LAP Construction Company “does not require prior authorization regarding environmental.
But in the same document it reported that: ”However, if there is any omission to the proposed activity, which causes ecological imbalance or exceeds the limits and conditions established in the applicable provisions to protect the environment and preserve and restore ecosystems, proceed in accordance with the environmental regulations established for this purpose”.
The members of the Committee stressed that they are denied access and put many obstacles to enter and supervise the work, and the Sedatu delegate in Oaxaca, Abelardo Mendoza Sánchez, requested that it be the municipal liaison that requests access, when the operating manual or the Specific collaboration agreement between Sedatu and the municipality of El Espinal indicates that it can be done.
Annoyed and disappointed by the irregularities, corruption and abuse of authority, Gisela stressed that unfortunately Sedatu’s work brought about internal conflicts, and this occurred due to the lack of consultation and transparency of officials and the local authority itself.
“We believe that there is a lot of corruption, irregularities and even internal conflicts over the work, we urgently call on SEDATU to inspect their work and attend to our requests.”
He said that there is irreparable environmental damage, since the 55 felled trees have not been planted and there is no supervising authority either.
“Environmental damage is tangible, a notorious fact, there is a risk to life, health and safety for the beneficiary population if there is not a correct implementation of the program, we cannot be oblivious to this reality, it is urgent that we have tables working with the various actors involved, such as beneficiaries, executors, responsible authorities, the Committee, and specialized technicians, in itself, a multidisciplinary work”.
The hope of the committee is that there is a response from Sedatu, both federal and state, because up to now they have been denied information and access in a work that is public and that supposedly benefits the entire Spinal community.
Just yesterday Saturday, through its social networks, the local authority chaired by Joselito Valencia reported that there was an inspection of the work without giving further details of costs or infrastructure.
According to Sedatu, the project was intended to be delivered this February, but important parts of the project still remain to be completed.