Articles filed under Impact on Landscape from Mexico
Mexican and foreign energy companies have paid off local power brokers to bring landowners on board, according to lawyers and activists. Yet in some cases, money they had donated for social projects evaporated in the hands of municipal officials. “We’ve had years of wind projects, but poverty is the same.”
A palm hat worn down by time covers the face of Celestino Bortolo Teran, a 60-year-old Indigenous Zapotec man. He walks behind his ox team as they open furrows in the earth. A 17-year-old youth trails behind, sowing white, red and black corn, engaging in a ritual of ancient knowledge shared between local people and the earth.
“All these agencies and companies are in lockstep on this green energy rush, whether it’s actually beneficial to us or not,” said Donna Tisdale, a resident of Boulevard in East San Diego County. Tisdale is leading the lawsuit against Energía Sierra Juárez, which also names the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Among other things, the lawsuit claims the Department of Energy issued a Presidential Permit without considering environmental impacts in Mexico or alternative clean energy projects, as required by law.
“It hurts us that our land is affected, and the environmental impacts are not even measured. Wind farm projects affect streams and hurt the flora,” said Zapotec Indian Isabel Jiménez, who is taking part in the struggle against the installation of a wind park in southern Mexico.
In a detailed interview, the biologist explained what the environmental impact reports omit: the real impacts on the flora and fauna of the Tehuantepec Isthmus. These negative impacts extend not only throughout Mexico, but also into the ecosystems of Central America. Mora even casts doubts about the way in which these environmental studies are conducted. "Generally there are 'agreements' behind closed doors between the consultants or research centers and the government offices before the studies are conducted.
San Mateo del Mar already said "No" to the proposed wind project in 2007. However, the Mexican government and big companies refuse to leave us in peace, causing divisions and conflicts in our communities. Even if we refused, the negative effects of this mega-project will hit us anyway, because we live in the same area and share the same ecosystems. Now we are asking ourselves: what will we live from if the sea and the lagoons are contaminated?
"There is a pattern of human rights violations in the communities. Wind energy companies advertise themselves well, offering money and jobs, but the jobs are temporary. The companies' actions are not transparent, nor do they meet established standards," Alejandra Ancheita, the head of Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales.
The wind farm projects is already affecting the lives of Zapotec peoples, as well as our Ikoots communities, living in Isthmus - Mexico's windiest region. Zapotec communities that depend on agriculture and livestock farming have already seen their fields overtaken by wind turbines, limiting their food sovereignty and impoverishing soil fertility.
Foreign energy firms have flocked to a narrow region of southern Mexico, known as one of the world's windiest places, to build towering wind turbines ...their presence has angered some of the indigenous populations, with some protests turning violent. Last week, more than 20 people were injured when police clashed with a group of protesters.
Saul Celaya, a Huave Indian farmer and San Dionisio resident, said the lagoon project would damage mangrove swamps where fish, shrimp and other sea life breeds, and scare off the fish that locals depend on. "Just when they were doing soil studies, there was a mass die-off of fish," Celaya said, adding that projects opponents "are being intimidated, they're afraid to leave their houses, they're threatened."
There were contracts drawn up for the farmers so they could lease their land for transmission, wiring, generators and windmills to provide. The contracts were in Spanish, but the wind company "forgot" that the majority of the population could not read or write. Those that could, conversed in Zapotecs, a pre-Hispanic language. Many farmers signed, trusting in the promises of the government and the Spanish companies. The farmers gave away use of their land for next to nothing so the wind farm could be constructed. For the La Ventosa wind farm, which were inaugurated in early 2009, farmers received between 25 and 100 pesos per hectare. The company had promised 30,000 pesos a year.