PBI-Mexico accompanies Indigenous Zapotec group opposed to industrial wind power megaprojects on their territory
On July 19, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project posted on Facebook that it accompanied Los Comuneros Zapotecas de Unión Hidalgo at their event celebrating the 55th anniversary of the Presidential Resolution of Communal Property.
A recent headline in El Universal (in Spanish) explains that it was in 1964, by presidential order, that the Indigenous Zapotec peoples of the municipality of Union Hidalgo in the state of Oaxaca, were recognized as possessors of the land and were given 20,000 hectares that today they defend against megaprojects.
That article notes, “The agrarian community of Union Hidalgo defends its right to land, territory and natural assets before the wind industry that is settling in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec [in the state of Oaxaca] without respecting the communal character of the land, nor the human rights of the Indigenous peoples.”
The PBI-Mexico social media post adds the details that, “They have a history of resistance against the arrival of five wind megaprojects and other miners in their territory. There are approximately 300 wind towers that are intended to be installed in areas with a large presence of trees and natural reserves.”
In May of this year, Mexico News Daily reported that the Energía Eólica del Sur wind farm was built by the Japanese transnational Mitsubishi corporation.
The newspaper article further highlights, “It is the newest of 28 farms in the state, all of which are located in the windy Isthmus of Tehuantepec region, which generates 62 per cent of Mexico’s wind energy.”
That article also notes, “One group of indigenous Zapotecs sued Energía Eólica del Sur, arguing that their right to prior consultation under international law had been violated because the consultation took place after construction had already started.”
The Mexico City-based Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, AC (ProDESC) has previously explained that the Zapotec indigenous community of Unión Hidalgo opposed the Piedra Larga wind project.
Desarrollos Eólicos Mexicanos (DEMEX), a subsidiary of the Spanish company Renovalia Energy, along with the private U.S. investment firm First Reserve, developed the controversial Piedra Larga wind farm projects despite community opposition. Piedra Larga I, which is comprised of 145 wind turbines, has been in operation since October 2012. Piedra Larga II, which consists of 69 wind turbines, was constructed in 2014.
In February of this year, the Istmopress News Agency also noted these projects being developed in this territory:
1- the Gunna Sicarú wind farm to be built by Eólica de Francia (EDF);
2- a wind farm that is still unknown but belongs to the company Eólica Unión Hidalgo;
3- the Palmita 1 and 2 wind farm to be built by the German company Siemens and Gamesa;
4- a wind farm to be built by the U.S. company Ecowin.
That article also listed:
5- a mine being developed by Minaurum Gold in the community of La Cristalina in the municipality of San Miguel Chimalapa;
6- a stone material mining companies such as the Cruz Azul cement factory that intends to excavate an area in a small mountain range.
In 2013, a representative of PRoDESC stated in this IPS newspaper article, “There is a pattern of human rights violations in the communities. Wind energy companies advertise themselves well, offering money and jobs, but the jobs are temporary. The companies’ actions are not transparent, nor do they meet established standards.”
This PBI-Mexico briefing paper has also previously noted, “Throughout 2013, PBI observed with concern an increase in the level of violence in the context of wind farms, particularly against HRDs [human rights defenders] and community leaders whose work involves the defence of those affected by these developments.”
It adds, “PBI believes that HRDs are essential actors in promoting environmental and social justice, highlighting the importance of respecting human rights norms in the context of large scale economic projects.”
ProDESC is a member of the Focal Group of Civil Society on Business and Human Rights (Focal Group) that PBI-Mexico has accompanied since 2015.