[ The Land is Not for Sale! A community in resistance to La Parota dam. ]
by Root Force
Following our last La Parota post on June 29, when Mexican media reported that the project was postponed until 2018, things were looking good for the indigenous and campesino peoples defending the Papagayo River from destruction and their own communities from dislocation. On September 13, 2009, the Mexican government indicated that the project had been canceled, not allocating any funding for it in the proposed 2010 budget. After a seven year struggle, in which more than six resisters had lost their lives, the dam looked dead in the water.
Less than eight months later, however, the government restarted its push to force through the dam. On April 5, Jorge Antonio Mijangos Borja, director of Mexico’s National Water Commission (CONAGUA) announced that “if necessary, the hydroelectric dam La Parota will be built to provide water and electricity to the port of Acapulco.” He also announced plans for five other dams, three on the coast and two in Tierra Caliente.
The very next day, the state of Guerrero’s “leftist” governor Zeferino Torreblanca said, “[La Parota] is a project we should not abandon.”
Because the dam is slated to be built on communally owned indigenous land (ejidos and bienes comunales), the government must convince local communities to invoke a clause (added to the Mexican Constitution as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA) approving the government’s expropriation of their land. Previously, the government secured this approval through fraudulent “popular assemblies” that were eventually tossed out by federal courts.
Returning to the same tactics, an unelected pro-dam member of the La Concepción ejido convened an assembly on April 18. Lack of quorum and resistance by the Council of Ejidos and Communities in Opposition to La Parota Dam (CECOP) successfully shut that meeting down. The meeting was rescheduled for April 25.
At this second meeting, according to CECOP spokesperson Rodolfo Chávez Galindo, dam proponents recruited taxi drivers and other Acapulco residents, who they paid to illegally vote in an election meant only for community members. As a consequence, the assembly approved the expropriation of land for an access path to the construction site.
CECOP has promised to get this illegal expropriation overturned, just as it has with the past four.
Building La Parota dam will lead to mass scale of development induced displacement and resettlement.
The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.
India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.
Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.
This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.
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