Challenging Mega-Dams through the People’s Permanent Tribunal
By Saulo Araujo
August 4th, 2011
The La Parota mega-dam being constructed in Guerrero, Mexico will displace over 5,000 families and have an indirect impact on an additional 15,000 lives. That is unless the Assembly of Environmentally Impacted Communities (ANAA) has a say in the matter.
Along with the Council of Communal Land Owners and Communities Against Construction of La Parota Dam (CECOP) and, another Grassroots grantee, the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAPDER), ANAA has advocated that the state and federal government withdraw its plans to build the dam.
This past weekend, ANAA held its 7th National Assembly in Acapulco. More than 400 participants from 16 states of Mexico met in Salsipuedes, one of the communities to be impacted by the La Parota mega-dam.
At the event, the ANAA resolved to participate in the People’s Permanent Tribunal, an international opinion tribunal that examines and provides judgments regarding violation of human and trade union rights. ANAA members expect that their participation in the project will help to disseminate information about the human rights violations and environmental destruction caused by development projects. The Mexico Chapter of the People’s Permanent Tribunal will start its work of analyzing and judging cases in October. In the next two years, the Tribunal to be formed by volunteers (lawyers, judges, community organizers and scholars) will review cases of the impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S.-sponsored “war on drugs” through the Merida Plan, and human rights cases against local communities.
Organized in different countries, the Tribunal is an effective educational and organizing tool for social movements around the globe. It provides a public space for communities whose cases are neglected by government authorities and the mainstream media. The first people’s tribunal was organized in 1979 in Italy.
In Salsipuedes, ANAA was able to bring together organizers from different parts of Mexico to learn with local families about their struggle and continue building a global movement. Grassroots International contributed in this process through a small grant to ANAA for the organization of the 7th National Assembly. Through grants to ANAA and other community-led organizations, Grassroots continues to support our allies in Mexico to build movements for their rights to land, water and a dignified life.