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Climate changes yet business as usual: a parable of sustainable rural cities in Chiapas, Mexico

This article dwells upon rural reconstruction projects that have been implemented under the rubric of 'Sustainable Rural Cities' (SRCs) since the late 2000s in Chiapas, Mexico. It aims to examine the motivations of the central and local governments in designing and executing these projects. While the goals behind these projects were stated as mitigating climate change and alleviating rural poverty, this article claims that SRCs could be understood as part and parcel of the overall transformation of the rural structures with policies informed by market-friendly rural development perspectives on sustainability. Tracing the clues in the official documents of the state and regional integration initiatives such as Puebla Panama Plan and Mesoamerica Project, this study suggests that rural reconstruction projects in Chiapas are to boost the integration of local economy into the world market while converting peasants into rural industrial proletariat, dispossessing them of their land to be used for more productive -i.e. profitable- aims. Therefore, the parable of SRCs in Chiapas suggests that the concept of sustainability has increasingly in practice come to accommodate the logic of capitalist accumulation and exploitation. In the face of climate change, the concept of sustainability has been redefined as business as usual.