Wind Farm Mega-Project in Oaxaca sparks resistance, repression

Local residents from San Dionisio del Mar (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico) are protesting the construction of a huge wind farm in their community.  Their prolonged and energetic resistance has been met with violent repression and even death threats made against several opposition leaders.
 
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Mareña Renovables is constructing a giant wind farm in the small community of San Dionisio del Mar. Of the town’s roughly 5,000 inhabitants, most are of the Ikojts indigenous group (also known as Ikoots or Huave). The community is located on a narrow stretch of land between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean where high average wind speeds make it attractive for wind power development.
 
According to a news report from the Radio Netherlands Worldwide, “In 2004, the local Ikoots Indians signed a contract with the investors granting them a 30-year lease on the land. But local representatives now claim the deal was signed on the basis of incomplete information. Protestors say the developers have unilaterally increased the number of turbines from 40 to 132.” 
 
In addition, protestors say that they were not told of potential environmental impacts of the projects when the companies initially informed them about development, nor that existing wind farms have negatively impacted the livelihoods of communities where they are located, including impeding their ability to cultivate their lands. In this regard, the Mexican government failed to fulfill its responsibility to create a process that permits and ensures the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities with regard to projects that directly affect them, as required by national and international law.
 
Mareña Renovables is a consortium of three partners: the global investment bank Macquarie, based in Australia; the Dutch pension investment group PGGM; and the Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan.  The project will include turbines constructed by the Danish Company Vestas Wind Systems and the involvement of two wind power companies:  Grupo Preneal of Spain, and DEMEX of Mexico.  Once completed, the project would be the largest wind farm in Latin America.
 
The project also has funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and a dozen other banks. FEMSA (the largest beverage company in Latin America) and Cuahtémoc Moctezuma (the Mexican bottler for Heineken) have reportedly pre-purchased options on the electricity to be produced by the wind farm.
 
The project is expected to generate 396 megawatts of power from 102 wind turbines in the water outside of San Dionisio del Mar and 30 more outside neighboring Santa Maria del Mar. It also includes two electric transformer substations, six access roads, and additional support structures.
 
While the Mareña Renovables project promises benefits for its corporate sponsors and their moneyed partners, it offers little to nothing for area residents other than environmental destruction during construction, reduced access to agricultural lands, unknown environmental consequences during operation (the potential effect on local fisheries is of particular concern since fishing is a key livelihood), and paltry compensation. The project lacks a comprehensive environmental and social development plan that is an essential element of meaningful compensation.
 
Information for this article was contributed by Angela Martinez of the American Jewish World Service, Phil McManus of the Appleton Foundation, and Saulo Araujo of Grassroots International.
Photo above courtesy of UCIZONI, The Union of Communities in the North Zone of the Isthmus

 

For sources and additional information, see resource list below.
 
Basta de criminalizar la lucha social - Paid ad protesting the wind farm and repression of the opposition, signed by hundreds of Mexican and international organizations
 
Pueblos en resistencia contra el megaproyecto eólico en San Dionisio del Mar, Oaxaca
 
Ucizoni press release, 1/14/13
Ucizoni condena actos de difamación y de hostigamiento
http://www.slideshare.net/UCIZONI/comunicado-de-prensa-14-de-enero
Mareña Renovables no se va porque "los chantajes no nos doblan"
 
Mexico: Federal Court Halts Controversial Wind Park
 
Se enfrentan opositores y partidarios a parque eólico en Oaxaca; 12 heridos
http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/12/30/estados/024n1est
 
Oaxaca: Confrontation over supposed “approval” of wind-energy park in San Dionisio del Mar
 
Indigenous Communities in Mexico Fight Corporate Wind Farms
 
The challenge of deploying wind energy in Mexico. The case of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
 
PGGM to 'intensify' talks on controversial wind farm project
 
Dutch wind farm in trouble in Mexico
 
Mitsubishi Corporation Participation in Mexican Wind Farm Project the Largest in Latin America
 
Macquarie Sells Mexican Wind Farm Stake
 
Pueblos en Resistencia contra el Megaproyecto Eolico
 
México - Proyecto Eólico Mareña Renovables
Complaint filed with Inter-American Development Bank