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Media Release

CEC Receives Submission on Residential Development in San Cristóbal de las Casas

Montreal, 16 January 2023 — On 11 January 2023, a US citizen and permanent resident of Mexico filed a submission under Chapter 24 of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA/CUSMA) with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to protect forest resources and birds, including an endangered species, in relation to housing developments around San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico.

In submission SEM-23-001 (Residential Development in San Cristóbal de las Casas), the Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to protect various hummingbird species, including the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris), Violetear (Colibri thalassinus / Colibri delphinae), and Black-chinned (Archilochus alexandri) hummingbirds, as well as other species of birds, like the Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus) and Blue-throated Motmot (Aspatha gularis) which is in danger of extinction. In particular, the Submitter claims that Mexico is failing to uphold provisions of the Mexican Constitution and various federal laws focused on environmental impact assessment, forestry conservation, and environmental protection. The Submitter alleges that unregulated and irregular housing developments in a conservation area threaten the habitat and continued survival of these bird species.

The Submitter cites several national and international legal instruments, including the Mexican Constitution, the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente), the General Law of Sustainable Forestry Development (Ley General de Desarrollo Forestal Sustentable), General Law of Wildlife (Ley General de la Vida Silvestre), and the Federal Law of Environmental Responsibility (Ley Federal de Responsibilidad Ambiental), among others.

The Secretariat will review the submission within 30 days and determine whether it meets the requirements of USMCA/CUSMA Articles 24.27(2) and (3). To learn more, please consult the registry page for the submission SEM-23-001 (Residential Development in San Cristóbal de las Casas).

Residential Development - bird species

Submission filed under USMCA/CUSMA Chapter 24 asserts failure to effectively enforce environmental law in Mexico to protect forest resources and birds in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico

The CEC SEM Process

The CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters process supports public participation, information-sharing between governments and the public, and transparency and openness in the effective enforcement of environmental law in North America. If you have reason to believe that an environmental law is not being effectively enforced by Canada, Mexico or the United States, the SEM process may address your concerns.

As of 1 July 2020, the CEC’s SEM process is governed by USMCA Articles 24.27 and 24.28 of the Environment Chapter of the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States (CUSMA, T-MEC, USMCA).

Want to learn more about the SEM process? Please watch this two-minute video for an introduction:

The SEM Process