Mexico: judge suspends La Parota dam

On Sept. 13 Mexican federal district judge Livia Lizbeth Larumbe Radilla, based in Acapulco in the southern state of Guerrero, ordered the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) to suspend further construction of La Parota hydroelectric dam across the Papagayo River. The judge’s order came in response to an Aug. 14 request by campesinos living in Guerrero’s Cacahuatepec municipality for an injunction against construction pending resolution of a lawsuit they have filed to stop the dam. Larumbe Radilla ruled that continuing the project might cause “irreparable damages” to the campesinos.

The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) granted the CFE the right to build the dam on June 24, 2005, and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) approved the project, based on an environmental impact study. But local campesinos charged that some 20,000 residents would be displaced by flooding and formed an organization, Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam (CECOP), to fight the project. Violence broke out between CECOP members and residents supporting the dam; CECOP member Tomas Cruz Zamora was shot dead by his own cousin in an argument over the project. During a visit in April 2006, “Subcommander Marcos” of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) warned the government: “They can only build this dam with a war in the Mexican Southeast.” United Nations investigators Miloon Khotari and Rodolfo Stavenhagen met with dam opponents on Sept. 9 this year and proposed an independent commission to study the issue.

Although Judge Larumbe Radilla’s order was only a suspension, not a cancellation of the project, CECOP representative Felipe Flores Hernandez considered the decision an important victory. “From now on, we’re not going to be silent,” he told a reporter. “We’re not going to stand by with our arms crossed, because we’re going to defend our Mother Earth, which is what enables us to eat.” (El Universal, Sept. 14; La Jornada, Sept. 10, 14, 16)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 16

See our last posts on Mexico and the struggle in Guerrero.

See also our special feature, “New Alert at La Parota.”