Defense of the San Pedro Mezquital River

Theme: Energy
Period: 2010-2015
State(s): Nayarit, Colima, Jalisco
Project(s): Defense of the San Pedro Mezquital River
Beneficiary organizations:

  • Náyeri Indigenous Council
  • Lawyers’ Collective
  • Nuiwari AC
  • Nayarit Ecojustice
  • Community Committee of the Ejidos of San Pedro Ixcatan and San Juan Corapan for the Analysis of the “Las Cruces” Dam
  • Indigenous Committee for the Defense of the People
  • Inter-Community Council for the Sustainable Development of the San Pedro River Basin
  • Knowledge Dialog Community
  • Delegation of Groups Affected by Dams attending the MAPDER Meeting
  • Children of the Earth Media Collective
  • Pro-Regions

The privatization of water and energy through the construction of hydroelectric and water storage dams and mines are serious threats to the territories. It is known that many dams have been built to supply the excessive demands of water and energy that mines and the uncontrolled growth of cities require, which makes them contemporary forms of plundering of indigenous and farmer territories. Many communities resist in various ways against this plundering, through political, organizational or mobilization means and relying as well on the legal defense of the territories.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) intends to build a hydroelectric dam on the San Pedro Mezquital river in Nayarit, a project that would affect the lands, territory and sacred sites of the Nayeri and Wixarika people, as well as the quality of life and productive activities (agriculture, livestock, forestry, fishing and aquaculture mainly) of the coastal communities by altering the hydrosedimentary flow of the San Pedro River, which represents 50% of the river supply of the biosphere reserve of the Marismas Nacionales of the state of Nayarit.

For more than five years Fondo Acción Solidaria A.C. has supported more than 14 community projects linked to the defense of the San Pedro River.

The contributions of FASOL to support the projects of these organizations, were used, among other things to:

  • Rent a bus to transfer the inhabitants of the region of the high zone, so that they could attend the public meeting of information on the Environmental Impact Manifestation (MIA).
  • Help the communities of the San Pedro River basin in front of the “Las Cruces” dam to participate and inform about their current situation at the VIII National Meeting of MAPDER in the community of Huitiupan Chiapas.
  • Informative meetings to inform about the hydroelectric project impact.
  • Strengthen the community organization of indigenous peoples to help them participate in the decision making about the use of their resources and the sustainable development of their communities.
  • Establish and monitor the overall legal defense actions of the Temacapulín, Zacualpan people and the communities that oppose the Las Cruces Dam, which threatened with forced displacement, disappearance, contamination and plundering of their territories as a result of the construction of dams and the imposition of mines.
    • Develop a comprehensive defense strategy, which includes five basic components:
    1. Submit legal appeals before national instances.
    2. The follow-up to the legal defense of procedures that are already established.
    3. The actions of political negotiation in front of the authorities responsible for the projects.
    4. A communication and information strategy aimed at both the community and people outside of it.
    5. The strengthening of community organization, appropriating rights and defense capacity.

    With the purpose of:

    Establish precedents for the defense of the collective rights of other peoples threatened by mining projects and dams.

    That communities acquire greater social awareness and recognize the importance of fighting as collectives in the defense of a different way of life, of another conception of the world.

    The actions carried out by the groups are aimed at suspending and canceling the various acts, constructions and activities related to the approval and construction of the Las Cruces hydroelectric project that violate the rights of the affected communities, demanding the cancellation of the project in order to respect the lands, territories and sacred places of the Náyeris and Wixaritari people, as well as the conservation of the National Marshlands of Nayarit and the life forms and economic activities of the local coastal communities.

    These groups supported by FASOL, along with others from the region, have worked in close coordination with the Indigenous Council and the Intercommunity Council of the San Pedro Mezquital River Basin.

    As a result of the joint actions carried out for more than five years, it was finally possible to put the issue on the national political agenda. In March 2015, senators of the Republic “called on the federal Executive, through the Secretariat of Energy and the Federal Electricity Commission, to cancel the hydroelectric project “Las Cruces”, due to the environmental, social, cultural and economic impact that the region would suffer.”

    Even though this is not the end of the problem and there is still a long way to go since the hydroelectric project is still in place, we could ascertain once again the importance of the solidarity and coordinated work of the communities and how the owners of the resources, backed with knowledge, support and appropriate tools, can make an effective defense of their territory and their natural and cultural assets. We could also ascertain the importance of the small grants strategically allocated to address a common problem.