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Tribunal Holds in Favor of Dam Opponents

By: Patrick Ellis | Real Acapulco News - 28 April, 2011

(Guerrero, NA 28 April) One year ago today, a gathering of landholders at La Concepción, Guerrero, took formal action to approve the expropriation package offered by the government and the Federal Electric Utility to condemn the land in the flood basin of a proposed hydroelectric facility to be built near Acapulco. The dam project, called “La Parota,” was destined to resolve long-term non-fossil fuel energy needs for development of one of Mexico’s poorest areas, and it would render electricity affordable to millions who today have no power. A protest group, known as CECOP (Council of Communities and Common Lands Opposed to the Dam), filed a lawsuit to nullify the decision on technical grounds. Yesterday, on the eve of the anniversary of that decision by the landholders, the 41st Agrarian Tribunal found in favor of the protestors and nullified the action.

CECOP leader Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz declared that CECOP would continue in its resistance to the project until the federal government prints in its daily register that the project has been definitively canceled.

The tribunal’s decision is based upon irregularities in the procedures employed by the landowners’ group to approve the expropriation offer, including failure of proper notice, failures in the proceedings themselves, and technical flaws in the conduct of the group after the decision was taken. Less than 20% of the required 75% of affected landowners were present, and others voted who were not qualified landowners in the region under review. The victory for the protestors lay in having the judicial branch confirm that the original decision in favor of the expropriation was “tampered with and manipulated.”

About 1,300 hectares (about 3,200 acres) are involved in the proposed condemnation of land, including community lands (“egidos”) belonging to the village of Cacahuatepec. Because the tribunal found five different defects in the proceedings complained of, the CECOP leadership is confident that there will be no appeal. Those in favor of the project are expected to regroup and commence another procedure to reach the same conclusion, this time, in accordance with the law. Ex-governor Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo, a strong supporter of the project, was frequently quoted as saying, “All the citizens of Guerrero are in favor of this project for their development and prosperity; the protestors do not number more than maybe 50.”

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