dorset chiapas solidarity

May 15, 2016

Dam on the Usumacinta river: Hydroelectric Project or Environmental Catastrophe?

Filed under: Corporations, Dams, Displacement, water — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:40 pm

 

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Dam on the Usumacinta river: Hydroelectric Project or Environmental Catastrophe?

 

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In documents from the CFE (the Federal Electricity Commission) – Programme of works and investments in the electricity sector –  the Tenosique Dam project (formerly Boca del Cerro), is a reality, and it is planned to complete its construction in 2017.

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Under the argument “regional integration and development,” free entry is being given to various hydroelectric projects in Mesoamerica, promoted by the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), among others, all of these sponsored by various federal institutions and private companies.

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This is no accident, as it responds to the historical negotiations between the governments of the region, from which the emergence of Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) stands out, and its current “strengthening” with the Project for the Integration and Development of Mesoamerica (PM). So, it is no accident that while [Mexico] is undergoing a process of the privatization of the state enterprise of water and therefore also its infrastructure, old projects of large-scale dams and water transfers are also being taken up.

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The bowl of the River Usumacinta in Mexico forms part of one of these “renewed projects”. The possibility of building a dam on the Usumacinta River has been discussed since 1956, but according to official documents it was not considered feasible for Guatemala to grant permission to flood such a large area, so the project was abandoned in 1960.

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In 1970, using the justification of an energy crisis, the Usumacinta Hydroelectric System Plan, in which five dams were planned along the river, was drawn up. The first and most important would be the Boca del Cerro Dam, but. a few years after, this plan was abandoned due to various political priorities of the time.

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A few decades later, during the government of Vicente Fox (2000-2006,) the project was taken up as part of binational negotiations between the governments of Mexico and Guatemala, in light of the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP), and reactivated in full with the PM, which emerged from the Tenth Summit of the Mechanism of Dialogue and Agreement of Tuxtla held in Villahermosa in 2008.

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In documents of the Federal Electricity Commission (Programme of works and investments in the electricity sector), the Tenosique Dam project (formerly Boca del Cerro) is a reality, and it is planned to complete its construction in 2017.

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The Hydroelectric Dam will be located 9.5 kilometres southwest of the town. In a first phase, the direct impact of this work will affect the Canyon of the Usumacinta, because the curtain, initially planned to be at a height of 135 meters, would be in that area.
Sixty years ago – since 1956 – and still today, considerations and studies about both the environmental and social damage have been available, produced by various academic institutions, NGOs, and even by the government.

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Following the construction and operation of the dam, the immediate consequences would be seen in the forced displacement of a large part of the population, and, for the few who managed to stay, their productive activities – fishing and cattle breeding – would virtually disappear. Needless to say, for the lower basin, specifically in the Centla Swamps, the damage would be irreparable.

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Several social organizations in Mexico and Guatemala have been trying to mobilize against the threat posed by the construction of the dam, and in response to the numerous acts of harassment towards indigenous communities, a situation which has been documented for at least fifteen years.

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With the imminent completion of the dam, the situation is one of great concern, because it requires urgent dissemination, and above all a strengthening in the mobilization of civil society. The construction of the dam would cause an environmental catastrophe in the entire basin of the Grijalva-Usumacinta river system. Nationally, the impact would also be terrible, because the Usumacinta is the most important reserve of fresh water in the country, which means that the hoarding of water resources would represent a direct attack on biodiversity and therefore an extensive socio-environmental conflict which cannot be resolved.

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Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

http://www.rumbonuevo.com.mx/presa-sobro-el-rio-usumacinta-proyecto-hidroelectrico-o-catastrofe-ambiental/

 

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April 23, 2016

60 Chiapas communities reject dam on the Usumacinta River

Filed under: Dams, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 5:58 pm

 

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60 Chiapas communities reject dam on the Usumacinta River

 

NO-a-la-construcción-de-Boca-del-Cerro-1

 

“According to researchers, the construction of dams across Mexico has displaced some 200,000 people, while advocacy groups warn that the country’s new water law will just continue to make the situation worse. Many of Mexico’s 4,462 dams registered in official records are in Indigenous and campesino communities.” TeleSur

 

By: Elio Henríquez, Correspondent

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas

Representatives of more than 60 communities from seven municipios in the Northern Zone and Jungle regions of Chiapas and from the Petén Front Against Dams of Guatemala issued statements against the construction of the bi-national Boca del Cerro hydroelectric dam, on the Usumacinta River, because it will invade their lands and the communities will be evicted.

In a statement published this Saturday, the almost 300 attendees at the Fourth Forum of resistances and alternatives of peoples of the Northern Zone of Chiapas said that construction work has already started on the containment walls on both sides of the Usumacinta, which divides Mexico from Guatemala, for an expanse of 40 kilometres.

The gathering, called by the Peoples Light and Power Civil Resistance Organization of the Northern Region, an adherent to the EZLN’s Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle, was held on April 6 and 7 in the Victórico Grajales Ejido, Palenque Municipio, Chiapas, one of the municipios affected together with Tenosique, Tabasco, and communities in the Department of El Petén, Guatemala.

The bi-national Boca del Cerro hydroelectric dam is one of the five dams planned on the waterway that divides Mexico from Guatemala. According to data from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), the works are planned over four years and will have a maximum height of 55.5 meters (approximately 182 feet).

The total surface of the reservoir contemplates 4,443 acres; 1,746 acres are within the municipio of Tenosique and 2,697 within the municipio of Palenque.

Those who attended the Forum pointed out that the start of the work will immediately result in: “the San Carlos Boca del Cerro community, Tenosique, will disappear because it will be converted into the offices and camp of the company that constructs the dam’s curtain.”

Their concern, they stated, is because in addition to all the damage that the dam will cause, “the government will not indemnify us for our lands, the cost of living will increase and we, Chols and Tzeltals, will disappear from the region as indigenous peoples.”

They made clear that the federal government is imposing the dam on them and violating Article 2 of the Mexican Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which refers to the autonomy of Native peoples and their right to consultation.

 

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Due to the above, they committed to applying a work plan for stopping construction of the Boca del Cerro Dam and pledged solidarity “with the actions of sister organizations that are fighting to stop projects for mining, highways, hydroelectric dams and to expel from our lands the owners of the big companies who want to dispossess us of our territory.”

They reported that they agreed to apply actions that permit them to put into practice the control and care of their territory, because this project would contaminate the river and the fish.

They also stated their opposition to the construction of other dams projected for Chiapas territory, because “they would affect the life of the peoples, and the profits that they would generate would be used to enrich foreign companies, the result of the energy reform, at the expense of the eviction of our peoples and of our lands.”

They also demanded justice for the murder of the activist Berta Cáceres Flores, coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, “and for respect of the human rights and the lives of those that fight against the megaprojects and against dams, in Mexico, Central America and other places in the world.”

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Sunday, April 10, 2016

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2016/04/10/estados/024n1est

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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April 13, 2016

Chiapas meeting vows to stop 5 dam projects

Filed under: Corporations, Dams, Human rights, Indigenous, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:48 am

 

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Chiapas meeting vows to stop 5 dam projects

Megaprojects seen as offering few benefits to indigenous communities

 

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Dam protesters hold a ritual to safeguard the river.

 

Mexico News Daily | Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The indigenous people of Chiapas continue to speak out against the construction of hydroelectric power generation plants on the Usumacinta River.

A Mexico-Guatemala bilateral project, the Boca del Cerro dam is the first of five that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) plans to build on the river in the next four years.

The dam at Boca del Cerro will raise water levels by 55.5 meters and create a reservoir that extends over a 1,799-hectare area in the municipalities of Tenosique and Palenque on the Mexican side.

Social advocacy and indigenous groups met in San Cristóbal de las Casas on the weekend to form a common front against the project and denouncing what they claim are abuses by government authorities.

Citizens fear that the Tenosique town of San Carlos Boca del Cerro will “immediately disappear” after it is taken over by the offices and camp of the company in charge of building the dam.

In addition to concerns over ecological damage residents are worried that “the government won’t compensate [for the loss of] our lands, the cost of living will increase and the Chole and Tzetzal people will disappear from the region.”

In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the organizations stated that the Boca del Cerro dam was being imposed by the federal government “in clear violation of the second article of the constitution,” which grants indigenous people autonomy and the right to be consulted before any major public works project takes places on their lands.

The more than 300 people at the meeting concluded that they will stop, by all available means, the construction of all five dams because of their effect on the customs and traditions of residents and the area’s geography.

“The [existing] dams at Chicoasén, La Angostura, Malpaso and Peñitas have brought development and well-being, but not locally. In all of those cases, broad arable lands, dwellings, and even complete villages were sacrificed, sunk, all to guarantee the country’s power supply . . . why should we believe it will be different this time?”

The imposition of dams and other large projects is seen as a reality throughout the country, according to the social organization Serapaz, or Services and Consultancy for Peace.

“Each year,” said Serapaz executive director Alberto Solís Castro, “we advise about 25 cases on average, all about indigenous people defending their territory from megaprojects, be it natural gas pipelines, thermoelectric power plants, dams, highways or mines.”

“[The promoters of these developments] act much like organized crime. They impose themselves in the villages, buying off local authorities, particularly those in charge of the land . . . a dynamic of harassment and pressure then begins, forcing the communities to yield and accept the project.”

“Once these projects get the go-ahead, indigenous communities are displaced and their lands subjected to pressures that inevitably have negative consequences for the environment and strategic natural resources, like water,” said Claudia Campero of the Mexican Alliance Against Fracking.

Serapaz and indigenous groups in Sonora have halted the first of six planned mining projects in the northern state.

“Energy reform makes these impositions easier for projects that involve power generation or extraction of hydrocarbons; they’re trying to overhaul the legal system to favor these kinds of projects,” said Campero.

Source: La Jornada (sp),  El Sie7e (sp), Reforma (sp)

http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/chiapas-meeting-vows-to-stop-5-dam-projects/

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April 11, 2016

More than 60 Mexican and Guatemalan communities reject hydroelectric project

Filed under: Corporations, Dams, water — Tags: , , , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:16 pm

 

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More than 60 Mexican and Guatemalan communities reject hydroelectric project

Desinformémonos

 

dams usumacinta

 

Almost 300 people from 60 communities in Chiapas and from the Peten Front Against Dams of Guatemala rejected the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Usumacinta River, which would represent an invasion and therefore an eviction from their lands.

During the Forum of resistances and alternatives of the peoples of the north of Chiapas, attendees reported that work on the binational hydroelectric dam Boca del Cerro has already started with the construction of embankments on both sides of the river.

Boca del Cerro is one of five planned dams in the watershed that divides Mexico from Guatemala. The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) said that the works are planned to last for four years and will have a limit of 55.5 metres maximum height.

Of the 1,799 hectares which will make up the total area of ​​the reservoir, 707 belong to the municipality of Tenosique, Tabasco, and 1,092 to Palenque.

The work will lead to “the disappearance of the community of San Carlos Boca del Cerro, Tenosique, which will become the offices and camp of the company building the dam,” said the representatives.

They are also sure that “the government will not compensate us for our lands, the cost of living will increase and we, the Chol and Tzeltal indigenous peoples of the region, will disappear.”

The representatives of the communities know that the imposition of the dam by the government violates Article 2 of the Constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which deals with the autonomy of indigenous peoples and their right to consultation.

Given this, they pledged to implement a work plan to stop the construction of the hydroelectric project which will pollute their land and river, besides the effect of the weight, and expressed their solidarity “with the actions of sister organizations struggling to stop mining projects, highways, hydroelectric schemes and to expel from our lands the large companies who want to deprive us of our lands “.

Finally, they demanded justice for the murder of the coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Berta Caceres, “and respect for the human rights and the lives of those who fight against megaprojects and against dams in Mexico, Central America and other parts of the world.”

With information from La Jornada

 

Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service

http://desinformemonos.org.mx/mas-de-60-comunidades-mexicanas-y-guatemaltecas-rechazan-proyecto-de-hidroelecrtica/

 

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Dam Threatens to Displace 60 Communities in Mexico and Guatemala

Filed under: Displacement, Indigenous, Zapatistas — Tags: , , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:29 am

 

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Dam Threatens to Displace 60 Communities in Mexico and Guatemala

 

chiapas.jpg_1718483346The Boca del Cerro dam threatens communities in Mexico and Guatemala. | Photo: EFE

 

Communities from both sides of the Mexico-Guatemala border are saying “No” to the mega-project that violates their Indigenous land rights.

More than 60 communities spanning across the southern Mexican state of Chiapas and Guatemala have voiced outrage over a hydroelectric project that threatens to displace them, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported Saturday.

The Boca del Cerro dam is one of five hydroelectric projects planned for the waterway that straddles the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Leaders from community organizations, including groups in Chiapas aligned with the Zapatista army, have spoken out against the dam that is already under construction on the Usumacinta River.

At a forum for resistance and community alternatives in Chiapas on Saturday, community leaders warned that the dam threatens to “immediately disappear the community of San Carlos Boca del Cerro,” La Jornada reported.

“The government will not compensate us for our land, it will increase the cost of living, and it will disappear us as Chol and Tzeltal Indigenous people of the region,” movement representatives added in a statement about their concerns over the impending but unwanted development.

Without the approval of local affected communities, the Boca del Cerro project violates the International Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, known as ILO 169, which enshrined the right of Indigenous peoples to free prior and informed consent for all development on their traditional territories.

Representatives said that their communities will fight to stop the construction of the dam, to halt a possible eviction from their land and to protect their right to self-determination against the whims of corporate interests.

The groups gathered also expressed solidarity with Honduran movements in mourning over the assassination of environmental activist Berta Caceres, renowned for her resistance against unwanted hydroelectric projects on Indigenous land, and reiterated demands for her murderers to be brought to justice.

According to researchers, some 200,000 people have been displaced by the construction of dams across Mexico, while advocacy groups warn that the country’s new water law will only continue to make the situation worse. Many of Mexico’s 4,462 dams registered in official records are in Indigenous and campesino communities.

Resistance against dam projects also takes a heavy toll. Since 2005, over 40 activists fighting to defend rivers have been killed in Mexico, Central America and Colombia, according to GeoComunes.

Among those killed in connection with dam projects in the past decade, at least eight were killed in Mexico and 13 in Guatemala.

 

 

“http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Dam-Threatens-to-Displace-60-Communities-in-Mexico-Guatemala–20160410-0023.html”

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