Yesterday, Senator Felix Salgado Macedonio announced that the Campesinos and Indigenous People who would be displaced by the completion of La Parota Dam in Guerrero State, Mexico—must be allowed to decide the fate of La Parota Dam.
This announcement comes the same day Amnesty International released its report “Human Rights at Risk in La Parota Dam Project” which details the impact this dam would have on local inhabitants: Once constructed, “La Parota” would flood approx. 17,000 acres of land—leading to the displacement of more than 25,000 people. An additional 75,000 would be indirectly effected.
The report also lists out the violence, murders, arbitrary detentions, and the multiple threats of death made against those who have since 2003 been working to prevent the construction of La Parota.
According to the Center for Economic and Political Research for Community Action (CIEPAC), the principle purpose of this Dam (first proposed by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in 1976) is to supply energy to the “maquiladoras (sweatshops), big tourist centers, cities and the extraction industry, among others, but not for the development and the needs of communities.”
There is also an intention to supply the Southern United States with electricity, and to use this project as means of becoming part of the National and Central American Electrical Network.
In 2003, the CFE began its initial steps to construct the dam…. It was not until then that the Campesinos and Indigenous in the region learned La Parota was to be constructed on their land (when the construction equipment began to arrive.)
Aware that this was a blatant violation of their rights, many from the communities came together to prevent the construction, and their own pending-displacement. They started with a blockade, which was successful at first but in June 2004 the government began a campaign against them, arresting several individuals.
Shortly after this, the group formalized as the Council of Communal Land-owners and Communities Opposed to the La Parota dam (CECOP) and went on to prove the legal basis of La Parota as invalid. But in turn, steps were taken to bypass the law, to ensure development could continue…
Equally disheartening, some divisions have taken root among the People because of a ‘compensation package’ that was offered to the communities—compensation that was completely inadequate, because the government worked from a position that fewer than 3,000 people would be displaced by the dam, which as noted above is not the case. CECOP and others opposed to the dam were prevented from attending these meetings.
Well, the divisions can be resolved easily enough. But it remains to be seen whether or not Felix Salgado Macedonio’s recent announcement will carry any weight—and that after 4 years of awareness and struggle, the people will be allowed to say NO and have that be the end of it.
One thing’s for certain: opposition is not simply going to evaporate.
Amnesty International’s Report and Recommendations
The archbishop of Acapulco and Secretary General of AI Visit communities
Death Over Dams
Subcomandante Marcos visits the Parota
Denied Justice: an account of grave violations of fundamental rights in Guerrero (pdf)
Tlachinollan (a Human Rights NGO in Guerrero)
Rodolfo Chávez Galindo, Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Presa La Parota (CECOP), rodoprt (@) hotmail.com
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