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The agrarian counter-reform. Isthmus wind power project and the destruction of the ejido

The agrarian counter-reform. Isthmus wind power project and the destruction of the ejido


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By Alejo Girón and Carlos Beas Torres

Until now, the mega-project on the Mexican Isthmus has only benefited European transnationals and Mexican politicians and officials at different levels; While for the peasants this project has meant loss of rural jobs, decreased capacity to produce food, land dispossession, environmental damage, internal conflicts and general violation of their rights. However, what is experienced in the Mexican Isthmus is not an isolated event; Throughout the Mesoamerican region, the privatization processes of public services and in particular of the electricity sector have advanced.


The beginning. For more than 30 years, some researchers had already noticed the great wind potential of the Mexican Isthmus. The winds from the north in autumn-winter and those from the south in spring, with sustained gusts of more than 80 kilometers per hour and for an average of 240 days a year, made the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec a favorable scenario for the generation of energy electric with the use of wind.

At the beginning of the 90s of the last century, strange characters suddenly appeared in the towns of La Venta and La Ventosa, close to the Zapotec city of Juchitán, in the state of Oaxaca. They were real estate agents who set aside land from peasants and indigenous people for a mysterious project. For the local people, it was extremely strange that "people from Mexico give 50 or 100 pesos a year to rent the land and do nothing on it."

At the same time, personnel from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) carried out technical studies and negotiated a strip of land in the La Venta ejido, located on the side of the highway that connects the center of the country with the southern state of Chiapas. In 1994 the first seven wind turbines were built; These fans, as the local farmers called them, became the La Venta I Pilot Project.

In 1999 the ejidatarios started a protest movement motivated by the low prices paid by the CFE for the occupation of the lands and by the failure to comply with the offers of public works made to the ejido. As a result of this protest, in 2001 the government ordered the apprehension of 12 peasants and jailed the ejido representative Arturo Hernández.

In March 2001, in El Salvador, then-President Vicente Fox announced the launch of the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP), a gigantic mega-project aimed at building and modernizing energy and communications infrastructure in the Mesoamerican area. The Mexican government was the instrument to promote among the Central American governments a plan that basically sought to provide cheap energy and raw materials to the United States economy and that also fully responded to the logic of national security in that country.

Ports, dams, airports, highways, new refineries, power lines and wind farms were part of the PPP portfolio of projects to be carried out in the Mesoamerican region. That is why since 2002 the presence of landlords has intensified in the region and their field of action now extends throughout the entire eastern and central part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The destruction of an ejido. In 2002, the company Windrock International carried out new technical studies in the La Venta area and, faced with the resistance of the peasants to rent their land, the state government criminalized the ejido representative Rafael Solórzano Ordaz, who is accused of false crimes, slandered , imprisoned and dismissed. The state government then imposes new ejido representatives, who with deception and threats try to lease a two thousand 80-hectare polygon for the construction of a new wind farm.


The evident governmental interest behind this project explains the accelerated pace of execution and the pressure exerted against the peasants. The impetus given to this project is great by Felipe Calderón, who was then Secretary of Energy, and the then deputy Juan Camilo Mouriño, who served as president of the Energy Commission of the federal legislature. Both had strong ties with Spanish electricity companies and more Mouriño, who was a partner of the GES company, highly involved in these projects.

In addition to direct repression, the government imposed on the La Venta ejido the Ejido Rights Certification Program (Procede), a program of supposed agrarian regularization, which has been the means for the privatization of ejidal lands and the destruction of the assembly of ejidatarios as the organizing axis of the agrarian nucleus. Despite this, and thanks to peasant resistance, the project is reduced first to 1,310 hectares and ultimately to a polygon of 850 hectares, less than half of the 2,080 originally projected.

The construction of La Venta II Park, consisting of 98 wind turbines, with a capacity to generate 93.3 megawatts, began at the end of 2005 with an investment of close to 110 million dollars. The work was assigned to the Spanish corporations Gamesa Eólica and Iberdrola. Of the latter, it is known that several of its main shareholders have very close ties with the Popular Party of Spain, allied with the ruling PAN, to which Mouriño and Calderón belong.

In the execution of this project, numerous irregularities were incurred, since the peasants were not informed of the scope and restrictions of the lease contracts, which are valid for 30 years, and they did not even receive a copy. The project itself was a real imposition even though some World Bank employees did a mock consultation. In La Venta there was a true dispossession of land masked of legality. Another of the most obvious irregularities is a gruesome environmental impact study, approved by the Mexican government, which hides that the park's construction area is one of the most important migratory bird routes in the world, since specialists estimate that at night In autumn and early winter, more than 800 thousand birds cross this region a day.

The construction of this park had serious impacts on the life of the La Venta ejido, since it generated deep divisiveness and internal conflicts, which caused the tearing of the social fabric. The dispossession even reached common use lands, which were transferred fraudulently; Low prices were paid for the leased land and the works carried out damaged the farmland located within the polygon.

In March 2007, a few days before President Felipe Calderón inaugurated Parque La Venta II, the federal and Oaxaca governments launched a new repressive blow against the peasants of La Venta, who in September 2006 had recovered lands from common use that had been illegally taken from them by the CFE. Without prior notice, in early March 2007 they were brutally evicted by 350 federal police officers; 73 of the peasants were criminally sued, accused of the federal crimes of obstruction of public works and damages in the amount of 19 million pesos. The owners of the land, in addition to being dispossessed, were turned into criminals.

Dispossessed, confronted and persecuted, they ended up being the peasants of La Venta for a “clean energy” project executed in a “dirty way”.

A new spoil. The Parque La Venta II had hardly been inaugurated, by the way in the middle of a gigantic police-military operation, when operators of the company Maderas y Granos de la Laguna, owned by PAN politicians linked to Vicente Fox, were once again touring the lands of the irrigation zone of the La Venta ejido in order to negotiate land for a new and gigantic project.

In La Venta, on land of great economic value, since there is an irrigation zone there, the Acciona company began in 2008 - with an investment of more than 550 million dollars and on some 2,250 hectares - the construction of which, they say It will be the largest wind-electric park in Latin America: The Eurus Park; Numerous problems have arisen in the construction of this Park, derived from the dispossession of land, damage to the plots and abuses committed against the workers. Once again, the real estate operators made extraordinary offers and without leaving a copy of the contracts to the peasants. With deception, pressure and threats, they hired the land for six thousand pesos a year (about $ 480). In some cases, they took over properties without having hired them and destroyed palm groves and native trees, under the passive gaze of the Mexican environmental authorities. The construction of the Eurus park has faced numerous delays, sometimes caused by protests by workers, who complain about the terrible conditions and the lack of benefits established by Mexican labor law, and other times due to the resistance of the peasants.

But the case of the La Venta ejido is not isolated; in the neighboring ejidos La Ventosa, Unión Hidalgo and Ingenio Santo Domingo, companies have already taken over more than 2,500 hectares. By the beginning of 2009, analysts consider that more than 15 thousand ejidal and communal hectares have been privatized under lease schemes, giving life to a real dispossession and a gigantic agrarian counter-reform in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Until now, the mega-project on the Mexican Isthmus has only benefited European transnationals and Mexican politicians and officials at different levels; While for the peasants this project has meant loss of rural jobs, decreased capacity to produce food, land dispossession, environmental damage, internal conflicts and general violation of their rights.

The end. In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a megaproject of “clean and renewable energy” has been imposed at an accelerated pace, which has meant a profitable business for Spanish electricity companies and Mexican government officials and which at the same time has represented serious socio-environmental impacts for the communities. indigenous to the region.

However, what is experienced in the Mexican Isthmus is not an isolated event; Throughout the Mesoamerican region, the privatization processes of public services and in particular the electricity sector have advanced, which has meant poor service and high tariffs, but has also meant the imposition of wind farms, dams and power lines. This accelerated expansion, this new invasion has occurred within the framework of the PPP, now called the Mesoamerican Integration and Development Project.

The struggle of the Mesoamerican peoples is not only now against the dispossession of territory and serious environmental damage caused by megaprojects; it is also against the privatization of public services and the governmental criminalization of citizen movements. Mesoamerica suffers a "new invasion" on the 200th anniversary of its Independence.

Alejo Girón Y Carlos Beas Torres - Grupo Solidario La Venta, UCIZONI, MAIZ-Oaxaca - The day of the field number 31


Video: solar and wind energy tower Why We Must Utilize Solar and Wind Power (July 2022).


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