La Parota Dam the Government Receives Its First Death

La Parota Dam the Government Receives Its First Death

By Gustavo Castro Soto

It all started when on September 18, 2005, in the Agua Caliente community, about 4 thousand community members from 32 towns that make up the Cacahuatepec Communal Assets, without machetes as they had promised, awaited the arrival of the PRD governor Zeferino Torreblanca.

“We declare once again that we will not give in. Our life goes first than giving up our lands ”.

(CECOP, August 2005)

Then Cirilo Cruz approached the truck and shot Tomás in the temple. The van with 40 people on board went off the road. Hours later Tomás Cruz Zamora died in the hospital. It all started when on September 18, 2005, in the community of Agua Caliente where the First Meeting of the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (Mapder) was held in 2004, about 4 thousand community members of 32 towns that make up the Communal Assets of Cacahuatepec, without machetes as promised, awaited the arrival of the PRD governor Zeferino Torreblanca. The community members put up a large temple and many chairs for the meeting and with some blankets that read "Mr. Governor ZTG. Is the entire La Parota project worth a single life for a man from Guerrero defending his land? Does he want to compete with Figueroa by disappearing and murdering peasants? ? ". Or "No to the La Parota project. The governor must respect the rights of the peasants. Respect for the rights of others is peace. Salsipuedes." The spokesman for the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposing the La Parota Dam (Cecop), Marco Antonio Suástegui, stated that "we have invited him (the governor) to inform him why we do not want the dam, because it is for the gringos who want to buy our land with his greenback and he will bring displacement for the poor. The governor deserves respect and let him tell us why he wants the dam, we do not want to be his enemies, but his friends and we have to convince him with arguments. "

But the governor did not arrive, he stood them up. Given this, the members of Cecop considered that he showed "lack of political sensitivity, capacity and civil courage" to listen to them. At that time they decided that there would no longer be another date for any dialogue with the government or with the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), since there is nothing to talk about. They confirmed that they would accept the invitation to march on September 27 with other organizations at the national level and also in Acapulco and Chilpancingo, which have been affected by the Torreblanca Galindo government, which has not fulfilled its campaign promises such as that of compensating those affected by Punta Diamante and those evicted from Granjas del Marqués. Marco Antonio Suástegui clarified that all those who were there were because they love the land and do not need resources from anyone or are looking for political positions: "This movement is healthy and legal. We are going to win the fight, La Parota is falling." And He warned: "Governor Zeferino will be the culprit if there is one injured or one dead." The Cecop then proposed more radical measures, among them taking the two wells of the Potable Water and Sewerage Commission of the Municipality of Acapulco (CAPAMA) as "punishment because the governor did not come" and that are installed in the Papagayos River that supply the port from Acapulco. Transnational companies that have benefited from the privatization of water distribution in the city of Acapulco are supplied from these wells.

Another spokesman, Felipe Flores Hernández, said that they have to show the government "that we are not playing games and we are serious and with everything." But at the same time he called them to act calmly and intelligently, without violence because spirits were heated. "We have every right and reason to fight, because no one can impose a project on us." Marco Antonio Suástegui confirmed that "They can beat us in the political fight, in the legal fight, but still they will not happen. This is a nightmare that will go down in history with the victory of Cacahuatepec, because nobody will take the land from us. Parota is already falling because those who are present are fighting for their own thing and not for 200 pesos like those miserable ones who voted in San Marcos. "

Suástegui told the press that “the situation is becoming more difficult, the risk of violence spilling over is more latent, since the CFE once again insists on wanting to happen, which it has wanted to do in the community of Cruces de Cacahuatepec , under the pretext of introducing drinking water to the community. " He insisted that "definitely the governor does not want to dialogue with the community members, he only dialogues with investors, with the CFE and with high-ranking officials like President Fox. We leave our machetes, we come representatives of all the communities, not all, only representatives , we came in a peaceful way, open for the governor to feel, to know how many we are and why we oppose the La Parota project, I think this moment could have been historic for the governor, since he would have reconciled things with the opponents of La Parota and would have reconciled with the social organizations that are recriminating these government actions. "

At the end of the event, 40 peasants were returning to their community of Huamuchitos when Cirilo Cruz Elacio left the road and shot 40-year-old Tomás, who was driving the truck. A month earlier, the peasant Julián Blanco and a member of Cecop stated that "I want to tell the mayor of Acapulco, Alberto López Rosas, and the governor Zeferino (Torreblanca), that we are going to defend our lands even if our lives are involved. to give not an inch of land. And that Jorge Campos - a former footballer who participates in the spots for the construction of La Parota in which he invites community members to sell their land - is going to fuck his mother. " The government took them at their word and claimed their first murder.

The members of the Cecop were dismayed and indicated that behind the murder is the president of the Commissariat for Communal Assets, Crecencio Jerónimo. He also blamed Governor Zeferino Torreblanca, "who has been in charge of repressing us, harassing us," and they are calling for his dismissal. "This is the division that the CFE has brought with its project among community families," said the widow Eugenia Galeana, who was at her husband's side at the time of the shooting. The organization also blamed President Vicente Fox, Alfredo Elías Ayub (Director General of the CFE), Mayor Alberto López Rosas, Víctor Hugo Chávez of the CFE; to the leaders of the CNC, among them Nabor Ojeda, Evencio Romero and Valente Navidad. For her part, the widow affirmed that "This is the division that the CFE has brought with its project among the community families, Cirilo had been promised to be the treasurer of Communal Property." The next day, Cirilo was admitted to a hospital in Acapulco with gunshot wounds to the abdomen and a machete to the ankle.

Suástegui pointed out that although his partner has fallen in the fight, from "here we say that today more than ever we oppose the La Parota dam and we are not going to take a step back, the first one has already fallen." He added: "We ask for the dismissal of Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, if he really has dignity and shame that he leaves office, because since he entered he has only dedicated himself to lacerating those who have less and today he is the culprit that our colleague has been killed. We hold him responsible for this death and with this the La Parota dam is definitively canceled and there is not a step back ". He ended by saying: "we are going to bury our comrade, but his death does not go unpunished" and then a slogan was improvised saying "Tomás lives, the fight continues, long live Huamuchitos."

To make matters worse, that same day the leader of the Peasant Organization of the Sierra del Sur (OCSS), Miguel Ángel Mesino, was also assassinated in the center of the town of Atoyac by a group of men armed with Ak-47 rifles and. .9 millimeters. Romel Jaimes Chávez, who was accompanying Miguel Ángel Mesino at the time of his execution, was also wounded by a shot in the right knee. Mesino was the son of the founder of the OCSS, Hilario Mesino. By the way, the members of the Cecop had already warned that days before in different towns where peasants opposed to La Parota are located, attempts of confrontation have been presented with envoys of the treasurer of the communal property of Cacahuatepec, Rafael Ascensio, son-in-law of the murderer Cirilo Cruz, and Crecencio Jerónimo Aparicio the president of the Commissariat of Communal Assets.

With the support of a group of lawyers [1], on September 7, 2005, Cecop, "by our own right and with the character of community members and legally recognized possessors of the Communal Assets of Cacahuatepec, Municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero", asks the Agrarian Unitary Court for legal action [2] of nullity of the Assembly Minutes of August 23 called by the CFE where the expropriation of their lands is authorized for having been carried out illegally and in contempt of court orders. Said assembly was rigged, without the legal quorum, without adequate convocation, with police checkpoints and fences, and with bribes to the community members by the CFE. [3] The Cecop also requested precautionary measures; to stop the process of expropriation and construction of the dam, and criminally sue the President, Secretary and Treasurer of the Communal Assets of Cacahuatepec [4].

Marco Antonio Suástegui released the CECOP statement declaring "the La Parota hydroelectric project definitively canceled." [5] "We say that the main responsible for this assassination is the CFE and Víctor Hugo Chávez (Resident of Social Affairs of the La Parota project) who, since he arrived, has been in charge of interrupting the social peace that existed in our towns," Cecop ruled. Immediately after the murders, communiqués of repudiation rained down. The Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI), a member of the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples (AMAP), stated that “These acts of blood are part of The campaign launched by the Government of Vicente Fox, in complicity with the Guerrero Executive, to break the resistance of the peasants affected by the construction of the La Parota dam. Vicente Fox and Zeferino Torreblanca in the pure PRI and even Porfirian style, are seeking by all means to impose the execution of a work, which means the eviction of 25,000 people. It is clear that the announcement accelerated by part e of Vicente Fox of large investments for the construction of dams in Guerrero and Michoacán, of the El Fénix petrochemical project and the Isthmus Eoloelectric Park in which large transnational corporations are involved, represent the "year of Hidalgo" for government officials linked to These companies." [6]

The Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of Peoples (AMAP) stated that “we demand that the harassment of the affected communities and those who reject the La Parota dam stop, we demand that Crecencio Jerónimo Aparicio be investigated, and his entire cabinet of communal goods, and who head a group representing private economic interests in collusion. We hold the PRD government headed by Zeferino Torreblanca responsible for what happened, because on the one hand it demands unconditional dialogue, and on the other, it neglects its responsibilities as an authority, by allowing an environment of increasing violence in the region. We demand the immediate cancellation of the La Parota project, since in the first place, it only responds to business and private interests that are managed within the framework of the Puebla Panama Plan and do not represent more than misery and no development for those affected directly or indirectly. Secondly, the process to legitimize said project has systematically violated Mexican laws and human rights within the framework of the international protocol of Economic, Social and Cultural rights that our country has signed. " [7]

The general secretary in the state of the National Union of Workers (UNT), Rosa Elena Zamacona, said that enough of so many abuses and persecution against the community members and that the government better support the peasants through productive projects. "The government supports neoliberal projects and the peasants are sent as beggars." On the other hand, the community members also found support and solidarity from the economics and law students of the Academic Unit of Social Sciences (UACS) of the Autonomous University of Guerrero (UAG) after their visit to the campuses. The member of the University Front against La Parota, Erwin Flores, described the rector of the University, Nelson Valle, as "a puppet of the government" and clarified that the University belongs to the people and said that when the opponents want to go to her, the doors will be open. The Cecop also reported that talks with the EZLN to meet with Subcomandante Marcos are already advanced. [8] He confirmed that although they distance themselves from any armed movement, the support of all organizations is welcome, including those of armed groups such as the EPR or the ERPI: "We don't have weapons, the only thing we have are machetes." He ended by saying: "The expropriation is not going to happen, the dam is not going to be made, let us not wane in the struggle that we have been holding for two years, this struggle that governments have wanted to minimize, this struggle that is for Mexico."

On the other hand, the Desc Space [9] stated that “The CFE has the responsibility of fostering the division between communities, for not informing the residents truthfully and impartially, for offering works and services to those who accept the dam and offering money to people in exchange for their vote in favor of the dam. carrying out the project in the assembly of community members of last August 23, as well as for previous assemblies such as the one convened on August 14 of this year and for the one of April 25, 2004. In addition, there is responsibility of both the Agrarian Procurator's Office and the Secretariat of Agrarian Reform for not ensuring the agrarian rights of the community members, as established by law. The State Government for not seeking the conditions to meet the legitimate demands of the community members and to favor investment in the State, using the police corporations to intimidate and intimidate the community members who are opposed to La Parota. These institutions have led to an escalation of tension that breaks into community life, damaging the social fabric and causing violent acts, ranging from verbal confrontation to the murder of the opposition community member Tomás Cruz Zamora. " Espacio Desc repudiated the murder, demanded that the CFE leave the area, an in-depth investigation of the murder, that the construction of the dam be annulled and the harassment of community members and ejidatarios opposed to the dam ceased.

In order to pay for the division and generate more interest in support of the construction of the La Parota dam, the CFE, through the head of Social Affairs for the La Parota project, Víctor Hugo Chávez Chávez, verbally agreed to a collective labor agreement with the National Union of Workers of the Asphalt Industry, Oils, Banks of Construction Materials, Similar and Related of the Mexican Republic of the Confederation of Workers of Mexico (CTM), formed 15 days before. The union delegate said that "it is already a fact" that the project is completed and that the community members who oppose it "do not know the benefit it will bring" to the state. Hernández Almazán is also Secretary General of the Union of Construction Industry Workers, Producers and Distributors of Materials for the same Industry, Excavators, Similar and Related of the state of Guerrero of the CTM. He is also part of the Southern Truckers Alliance, which was formed with leaders of the CTM, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and other unions.

Another strategy that the CFE has repeated in past decades but which is also part of a mechanism implemented by other governments around the world to exert pressure in favor of hydroelectric projects, is the offer to purchase high-cost land to generate an avalanche of offers. and then go down the purchase price. [10] Hence the proposal of the leader of the National Peasant Confederation (CNC), Evencio Romero Sotelo, for the CFE to pay half a million pesos per hectare to the affected peasants. This rumor will generate false expectations among the community members and ejidatarios paying the division. As if that were not enough, community members have commented that the CFE offered money to vote in favor of the dam and that, among those involved in this fraud, are leaders of the PRI, PRD and Convergence parties.

Despite all this, the Cecop under the slogan of “Not one step back. No to the La Parota dam ”, they marched along the Costera de Acapulco avenue with 3,000 community members supported by social organizations, the evicted from Granjas del Marqués, those affected by Punta Diamante, the ejidatarios of Llano Largo and El Cayaco, the telephone operators, the of the Social Security, the teachers, the students of the Ayotzinapa normal school and of the preparatory schools, the union of the Autonomous University of Guerrero (UAG) 7 and 17, the commission of the peasants of San Salvador Atenco, to demand the cancellation of the construction of the hydroelectric plant on the lands of Bienes Comunales de Cacahuatepec. With banners they expressed their repudiation of the governor and the mayor, both from the PRD, whom they described as “traitors,” and accused of having moved away from democratic paths to support the interests of the rich and their neoliberal projects. The slogans were not far behind: "If Zapata lived, let him fuck them", "From north to south, from east to west, we will win this fight at all costs", "In a golden cage hanging from a balcony, I was the president fucking the nation ”,“ Zapata lives, the fight continues ”, among others. They also stopped in front of the Cathedral in a silent reproach for the declarations of the archbishop, Felipe Aguirre Franco in favor of the dam, and who was the bishop of Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas.

In a Press Bulletin, the DESC Space recounts his testimony -based on an extensive report- on the violations and illegalities committed against the community members and ejidatarios to attempt to build the La Parota dam. [11] The Space expressed its "concern about the excessive and unjustified use of the public force" and that "community members demand respect for all their human rights, such as the environment, sustainable development, health, housing, work, food and request the solidarity of national and international civil society. " On the other hand, they emphasized that “the government has criminalized opponents, requesting through the Public Ministry to release arrest warrants against some community representatives and members of the Council of Ejidatarios and Comuneros Oppositores a La Parota (CECOP). 5 community members have been arrested, of which Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz and Francisco Hernández Valeriano are being prosecuted. Suástegui has received death threats and is being permanently harassed. " The report makes a count of the checkpoints that prevented the opposition community members from passing to the place of the assembly, some were severely beaten, and that men, women and children were even shot at; heavily armed police forces; of illegalities around the form, place and content of the assembly; of the apparently electrified mesh to prevent the passage; manipulation of the register and approval of the assembly's agenda; of the false promises of public services to obtain the signatures; of the impediment of the passage to reporters but not to the purchased National Peasant Confederation that should not be in the assembly.

The Space denounced that the human rights of the community members were violated by the CFE, the government and the Agrarian Attorney, including the right to freedom of movement; to personal integrity and security; to their agrarian rights; and legal security. They conclude that “both the CFE and federal and state government officials have been pressuring in various ways the community members and ejidatarios opposed to the construction of the dam, grouped in the CECOP, to accept the carrying out of the project: a) the carrying out of Assemblies and calls for them outside the legal framework are an obvious example of this pressure; b) so is the criminal process that follows two of the leaders who were charged with the crime of illegal deprivation of liberty of a CFE engineer, a crime they did not commit; c) the fact of denying the assembly access and provoking angry reactions, which are by no means acceptable, but which generally can ignite the spark that generates violence, and then initiate preliminary inquiries aimed at controlling the movement. "

The case of La Parota has constants that have been repeated throughout the history of large reservoirs: information is hidden; informed, timely and extensive consultations are not carried out with the possible affected; traps and tricks become operative; use is made of repression and intimidation of the public forces; prisoners are generated, there are cases of torture and the extreme is the murders; blackmail, bribery, the purchase of leaders and local authorities are used; the alternatives are hidden and more political and economic interests are provoked to add support to the project; an atmosphere is generated in the face of public opinion of rejection of those who defend their rights and divisions are fueled; use is made of personalities that are mounted on the large advertising devices; signatures and documents are forged; Alliances are generated with other sectors of supposed moral quality such as universities, bishops, politicians, artists or athletes in this case; arrest warrants are issued, death threats appear against the leaders, crimes are fabricated and all illegal mechanisms are used to achieve the objective, making it appear that everything is legal; Infrastructure works, jobs and other supposed benefits are promised to achieve more support for the project. As if that were not enough, it is also constant that social and environmental impact studies are poorly done.

With the case of the La Parota dam, the government has violated agrarian laws, the state and federal Constitution; international conventions that have to do with the environment, water, forests and human rights, such as ILO Convention 169. It has even ignored the Recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). [12]

The central problem is not the dam itself, but what justifies it, the vested interests and the supposed development model behind it. Hence the supine ignorance of the political parties, so-called academics and other actors who only applaud the project without knowing the consequences of the large reservoirs, but that will be the subject of another “Chiapas al Día” Bulletin. In short, the case of La Parota can serve as an experience for many other struggles that are carried out against dams on the Continent. The community members of Guerrero have also learned from them. The strategy has to be diversified to achieve respect for human rights and protection of the environment. The fight belongs to everyone. The fishermen will be affected, the population upstream and downstream, the population of Acapulco and the whole world thanks to the fact that in Guerrero those who support the dam will also contribute to climate change, which, if not stopped, the state of Guerrero will not only it will rain more but the Tsunamis and tremors will be able to destroy it.

Other sources: La Jornada, September 20, 21, 22, 23;

* Gustavo Castro Soto

[1] Graduates Raymundo Castro Aparicio, Alfredo García Arcos, Luis Jerónimo Zavala, Priscila Rodríguez Bribiesca, Julio Adrián Hernández Quiroz, Sergio Morales Gallardo, Claudia Sierra Pérez, and Eustorgia de Jesús Cabrera.
[2] Act of nullity of the Assemblies, Acapulco de Juárez, Guerrero, on September 7, 2005, addressed to C. Lic. Juan Rodolfo Lara Orozco, Magistrate of the Unitary Agrarian Court of District 41, based in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico.
[3] In a receipt from the CFE in possession, the Cecop reads: “I received from the Federal Electricity Commission, residence of previous activities of the La Parota Hydroelectric Project, the amount of $ 2,600.00 (two thousand six hundred MN), to cover the expenses generated by the community members, who will attend the General Assembly called by the Communal Assets of Cacahuatepec, to be held on August 14 of the current year in the Annex Bell Tower of the BC De Cacahuatepec, Mpio. From Acapulco Gro. "
[4] DC. Crescencio Jerónimo Aparicio, Juan Hernández Jorge and Paulino Hernández Valeriano, respectively.
[5] CECOP statement, Acapulco de Juárez, Guerrero, September 18, 2005. [6] Communiqué from the UCIZONI, México, DF. as of September 20, 2005.
[7]The following are members of AMAP: CHIAPAS: Center for Economic and Political Research (CIEPAC), Hermano Sol Campesino Organization, Education for Peace (EDUPAZ), Indymedia-Chiapas; GUERRERO: Rebelión Student Collective, Workers' Revolutionary Party-GRO. (PRT-GRO); OAXACA: Tepeyac Human Rights Center of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (CDHTT), Volunteers Committee for Environmental Improvement (COVOMA), Naax Wiim Women's Rights Center (CDHMAAW), Huave Mi Kualaj Xa Kabaj Cultural Preservation Group, Grupo Collective Work of the Isthmus (GTCI), Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI), Community Support Center Working United (CACTUS), Cultural Group “Nivi Ñuu; PUEBLA: Unión Campesina Emiliano Zapata “VIVE” (UCEZ ”VIVE”), Center for Human and Labor Rights of the Valley of Tehuacan (CDHyLVT), La Voz Nahuatl de la Sierra Negra, Center for Human Rights Takachihualis; TABASCO: Zapatista-Tabasco Indigenous Agrarian Movement, Centro de Estudios Sto. Tomas; VERACRUZ: Frente Popoluca del Sur de Veracruz (FREPOSEV), Indigenous Council of Uxpanapan (CIUX), Movimiento Agrario Indígena Zapatista-Veracruz (MAIZV), Tssoka-Teyoo, Resistance Committee vs CFE (CRRC); BAJA CALIFORNIA: Corporación Corazón A. (COCOAC); DF .: La Guillotina Magazine; MICHOACAN: Organization for Development A.C. (OSDAC); QUERETARO: Union of Indigenous Peasant Women of Querétaro (UMICQ). NATIONAL: Mexican Network of Action Against Free Trade (RMALC), Authentic Labor Front (FAT), Zapatista Indigenous Agrarian Movement (MAIZ), National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD).
[8] Letter from CECOP to the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee, General Command of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). Acapulco, Gro, September 7, 2005.
[9] The Desc Space is made up of Casa y Ciudad, A.C. from the Habitat Mexico Coalition; Unesco Chair of Human Rights at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Unam); Antonio de Montesinos Center for Social and Cultural Studies (Cam); Center for Economic, Social and Cultural Human Rights (Cedhescu); Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, A.C. (Prodh); Centro de Reflexión y Acción Laboral de Fomento Cultural y Educativo, A.C. (Cereal); Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights, A.C. (C.M.D.P.D.H.); Deca Equipo Pueblo, A.C .; Defender of the Right to Health; Fian - Mexico Section; Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (Limeddh); Regional Office for Latin America of the International Habitat Coalition (Hic-Al). The Zapatista Indigenous Agrarian Movement (MAIZ), the Mexican Alliance for the Self-determination of the Peoples (AMAP), the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD), the Peasant Union Emiliano Zapata Vive (UCEZ VIVE) and the Union of Popular Settlers also joined this statement. of the DF (UCP DF).
[10] To see examples of these mechanisms, the Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) can be consulted at
[11] Press Bulletin, Mexico DF. as of August 31, 2005.

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