September 24, 2009
At first, reports were that that Mexico’s La Parota hydroelectric dam had been scrapped for good due to limited funds. After five long years of opposition rallies, blockades, legal battles, and widespread intimidation, the peasant community of Cacahuatepec in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, could finally give up their fight and claim victory.
But as it turns out, there was no such cancellation. Mexico’s state power company, the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), had postponed construction of the 900MW hydroelectric dam citing the country's “sufficient generation margin, the difference between capacity and peak demand.” This is a huge letdown for the people of Cacahuatepec.
Back in 2006, I worked on a story about how the dam would affect the surrounding indigenous peasant community. Located near the tourist destination of Acapulco, residents make a living growing a variety of crops and community-owned lands, known as ejidos. Construction of the $1 billion hydroelectric project meant that an estimated 25,000 people faced the very real risk of being pushed out so that the Mexican government could flood their crops and dry up the Papagayo River. The project faced serious opposition from the United Nations, human rights organizations like Amnesty International and the World Bank, which argued that the dam's energy output would be inefficient and would come at a high ecological and economic cost.