After nearly 10 years of campaigning to save their homes and lands, our partners from the CECOP network in Mexico are celebrating a significant victory on the path to the definitive cancellation of the La Parota dam project.  If built, the dam would forcibly evict at least 25,000 campesinos and small farmers from their lands and negatively impact an additional 75,000 people due to environmental changes downstream and throughout the region.

Governor Aguirre signs CECOP’s proposal on Aug 16, 2012. Flickr photo by Felipe de Jesús Salinas Galván

On August 16th, community members and CECOP met with the governor of the state of Guerrero, Ángel Aguirre, and he signed the group’s 5-point proposal known as the “Acuerdos de Cacahuatepec.”  In the agreement, Aguirre commits, among other points, to:

  • not push the La Parota dam project forward during his mandate;
  • respect the affected communities’ rejection to the project, as well as the multiple legal rulings that have been issued in favor of CECOP due to fraudulent consultations promoted by authorities in the region;
  • serve as an interlocutor to promote a meeting between CECOP and the Mexican president, who has the ultimate authority to cancel the dam project definitively.

Though the fight is not over, this is certainly a major victory for CECOP with the governor publicly demonstrating his commitment to uphold the local communities’ rights to participate in the decision-making around development projects on their lands.

WITNESS has been working with CECOP since 2011 and, since then, video has played an important role in CECOP’s advocacy.  When governor Aguirre first agreed to visit affected communities to discuss the project in May 2011, youth activists working with WITNESS produced a video in which they read back to the governor excerpts from his own inauguration speech and urged him to turn his lofty words into reality by canceling the dam project.  During his visit, Aguirre seemed to side with the communities and even put on a t-shirt gifted to him by local youth imprinted with the words “Full Stop to the La Parota Dam.”  (See the youth activists talking about how they pulled this off in this video featuring WITNESS’ partners in Mexico – skip to 2m21s here to watch it with English subtitles).

However, a few days after Aguirre’s visit he was quoted by local newspapers with contradictory statements supporting the dam and his true position became increasingly elusive. Our partners produced a new video reporting back on the visit and calling on supporters to sign a petition asking Governor Aguirre to sign the “Acuerdos de Cacahuatepec” (go here to see the video with English subtitles):

It was a long wait but the day finally came on August 16th 2012.  WITNESS celebrates CECOP’s victory and tireless advocacy over the past 10 years – the campaign continues, next to the incoming Mexican president!

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