I’m just about to meet my international and Mexican traveling companions for the next week and board the Via Campesina caravan from Acapulco, Mexico. First stop on this journey today will be to the much disputed potential site of the mega hydro-electric dam called La Parota to meet with community members and the organization Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Prensa La Parota (CECOP).
When Vicente Fox came to presidential power in 2000, he aggressively advocated for the La Parota dam, and it was called his ‘crown jewel’ throughout his presidency. Yet International Rivers reports that “as many as 25,000 people would be displaced by the dam, and tens of thousands more downstream would suffer negative impacts because of dam-induced changes to the Papagayo River.” CECOP was founded in 2003 specifically to fight the construction of the dam and has functioned collectively, organizing the community base into forming blockades and challenging the federal approval process in law.
Facing fierce divide and conquer tactics of the state and federal government and the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), CECOP also tragically lost two of its members in 2006: Tomás Cruz Zamora and Eduardo Maya Manrique. The stories of their deaths are told here.
In late 2009 the Mexican government announced that it remained committed to building La Parota, but postponed construction until 2018. Many claimed victory and speculated that this meant the end of the project but as tensions have remained high in the community and threats against CECOP members continue, La Parota remains a possibility. Earlier this year, the human rights accompaniment and observation group SIPAZ reported on the ongoing tensions.
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After La Parota, the caravan will continue to Chilpancingo to meet with human rights defenders later tonight.
Thanks to International Rivers for the photos and background info.