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Indybay Feature
Mon Mar 30 2009
Project to Map Communally Held Indigenous Land in Mexico Comes Under Fire
Mon Mar 30 2009
The Ethics of U.S. Department of Defense Funding for Academic Research in Mexico
Peter Herlihy and Jerome Dobson, professors of Geography at Kansas University, received funding from the Foreign Military Studies Office (FMSO), located at the Fort Leavenworth U.S. Army base in Leavenworth, Kansas, to map communally held indigenous land in the states of San Luis Potosi, and in Oaxaca, Mexico. The project, named the Bowman Expeditions or México Indígena, began mapping in 2005 in an indigenous region known as La Husteca, which is partially located in the state of San Luis Potosi, and then moved their operation to the state of Oaxaca amidst the statewide popular uprising of the Oaxacan Peoples’ Popular Assembly (APPO) in 2006.

On January 14th, 2009, the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juárez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) released a communique in which the organization expresses concerns of geopiracy in the México Indígena mapping project, cites a clear lack of transparency, and claims that communities were deceived, having no idea that a primary funder of the project was the FMSO.

The FMSO official assigned to the Bowman Expeditions is Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest. During a 23-year military career, Dr. Demarest served in multiple assignments in Latin America and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. He has written numerous articles dealing with internal conflict including “The Overlap of Military and Police Responsibilities in Latin America.” Dr. Demarest’s first book, Geoproperty, considers property ownership as an issue of national security and strategy. Read more
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