This week, communities harmed by dam projects in Mexico won an important victory.  A panel of international experts serving as judges for the Mexico chapter of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) recognized a pattern of “gross and systematic human rights violations” in the construction of dams throughout Mexico over the past 40 years.  More than 185,000 people have been forcibly evicted.

In a special PPT pre-hearing on dams and their impact on rural, indigenous, and campesino communities, directly affected residents told their stories and testified about the range of human rights violations that affected communities living near dam projects. They told of lack of consultation and intimidation before construction, about forced evictions during construction, and inadequate resettlement afterwards.

To set the stage, activists opened the hearing with a video that compiled testimonies from more than 60 videos made on the topic.

One renowned activist, Lupita Lara, who lost her home to make way for a dam project that ended up never being built, asked the question that gave the video its name: How do you destroy a 140-year-old community in 15 days?


After two days of what they called “deeply sad and disturbing ” testimony, the independent panel of PPT judges issued their ruling on Friday and called on Mexican authorities to put an end to forced evictions and abide by Mexican legislation and international human rights standards in these projects.

The ruling is an important recognition of the Mexican government’s role as perpetrator of these abuses, as well as its responsibility to stop them. Our partners hand-delivered the ruling to the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice this morning and will continue to use the ruling to pressure decision-makers and raise visibility to these communities’ demands.

To learn more about how you can support the struggle of dam-affected communities in Mexico, visit the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER).

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