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WATCH: Kent Monkman: Casualties of Modernity

Video published on Jan 28, 2016

Ken Monkman Painting

Kent Monkman, Bete Noire, Installation View, The Urban Res, 2014, Sargent’s Daughters, New York

“Through a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation, Kent Monkman explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience — the complexities of historic and contemporary Native American experience. His alter-ego, Miss Chief, appears in his work as an agent provocateur and trickster who upends received notions of history and indigenous people.”

[Co-presented by University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA), with support from Institute for the Humanities, and the Michigan Indian Employment & Training Services.]

 

[Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. He has participated in various international group exhibitions including: The American West, at Compton Verney, in Warwickshire, England, Remember Humanity at Witte de With, Rotterdam, the 2010 Sydney Biennale, My Winnipeg at Maison Rouge, Paris, and Oh Canada!, MASS MOCA. Monkman has created site specific performances at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, The Royal Ontario Museum, and at Compton Verney, he has also made Super 8 versions of these performances which he calls “Colonial Art Space Interventions. Full bio: http://www.kentmonkman.com/biography/]

Faceless

Ancestral Pride

January 18, 2017

 

(L-R) Mohawk Warriors- "Wizard" smokes through his mask, "Boltpin". Wizard knew how to get media attention. They pulled up in a golf cart, and Wizard took out a knife, began cutting a hole in the vicinity of his own mouth, and then proceeded to smoke a small cigar through it. Kanehsatake  (Oka, Quebec) Media op. Aug. 29, 1990. Photo © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com '90

(L-R) Mohawk Warriors- “Wizard” smokes through his mask, “Boltpin”. Wizard knew how to get media attention. They pulled up in a golf cart, and Wizard took out a knife, began cutting a hole in the vicinity of his own mouth, and then proceeded to smoke a small cigar through it. Kanehsatake (Oka, Quebec) Media op. Aug. 29, 1990.
Photo © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com ’90

 

What I know on the subject of why I mask up. There are many times when people are at “political” actions or see pics/footage of direct actions pertaining to Indigenous Land Defence or any kind of resistance to the government or corporations and we are masked up. There is always people who take it upon themselves to question you as if they are the grand arbiter of how you can or cannot participate in resistance. They have the gall to ask in the most rude ways “why do you mask up” “are you ashamed of yourselves?” “our ancestors never wore masks” “if your doing nothing wrong why hide” and all of the usual ignorant comments meant to shame or be derisive to Warriors. Despite this being none of their business and the fact that no one has to explain themselves to anyone on the reasons why they are engaging in combatting colonialism, oppression, resource extraction et al; the way they do, they still feel entitled enough to feel owed an explanation. The infuriating part is that when you take the time to explain why people mask up they are deliberately obtuse because its not really the mask they have a problem with, its what you are doing in terms of resistance. Those of us who wear masks are not ashamed in any way shape or form, wearing a mask signals our intent, it does not mean we are afraid quite the opposite. The mask is our true face, the face of a Warrior who is fully awake and aware and knows what they are doing is more than their ego or personal gain, the mask shows that we are committed to our actions, we are aware of the utmost seriousness of our inherent duty to protect the sacred, to protect our children, and their future.

I can only speak for myself but I think this is a sentiment that may be shared by my Resistance Fam. I mask up because when I am on the frontlines not only do I need to protect myself from chemical warfare, I need to protect myself and my family from recognition because of the fascist police state we live in that absolutely revels in its corrupt justice system that’s riddled with racism, they will make you a prisoner of war just for upholding your sacred and inherent right to protect your land and water. The jails have too many of our people and we cannot afford for any more of our people to be incarcerated and part of the industrial prison complex being made a modern day slave. Statistics show that Indigenous People make up a large majority of the population in prisons.

15181663_620319914836730_2715211714080730084_nMore importantly in my mind masking up is an act of love for Mother Earth, it is a way of showing her your deep respect for the honor of protecting her and her body. When your pledge yourself to be a Warrior for Mother Earths Army you leave your identity and your ego behind. You are faceless, nameless and need no glory attached to your battle deeds, after all when you are a Warrior your not in it for selfies or recognition, or you shouldn’t be. The whole reason for fighting is to protect your land and water and your very Mother, you are fighting for the future of your people not to be recognized and have your ass kissed when people see you, that kind of hubris has no place on the frontlines or in Warrior Societies. The duty you are undertaking as a Protector you are ensuring the continuity of your culture, traditions, and your very way of life as a member of your Nation, when you are fighting colonialism, oppression, racism, neocolonialism, resource extraction, the illegal government, and sometimes your own corrupt people it behooves you to show a united front with your warrior brothers and sisters who stand beside you, what better way to do that than to show the world and your enemy that you are all one, connected in a way they will never understand. On the frontline, wherever it may be you are literally facing racists, racist police, and other agencies that’s only agenda is to continue genocide and protect corporations who want to ruin our planet for their greed, in order to safeguard yourself and your comrades masking up is protection for you all.

15392776_10158031307000637_3964962641926776897_oIndigenous Resistance is not about personal identity, from my experience those who want to be the face of the resistance or always in the spotlight are usually involved in a passive form of resistance attached to NGO’s and they are usually making some sort of pay check or compensation for being a “spokesnative” and delivering a narrative that is safe and well within the parameters of acceptable civil disobedience or social justice if you will. They mean well but they are still heavily invested in the status quo, and maintaining good relationships with the colonizers. The difference between these types of Natives and those of us who have dedicated our lives to abolishing colonialism and its avails is that we know we are all one Warrior, we are not looking to maintain relationships with the people who run colonial institutions of any kind because we know they do not respect us or our tactics, nor do we want to be fake with people who think they can further us because in reality we know they do not subscribe to fully decolonizing and are only involved in the age old game of power and control. When we mask up we are looking out for each other and the bigger picture, we are a collective voice and body with the same goal. Our identities are inconsequential to the end result that we are aiming for: The total liberation of our people and our lands.

Building a culture and community of resistance is not an easy task and there will always be negative people that will question anything you do from masking up, to taking action, to how we create economic viability. These types of people will even try to throw the law at you in an attempt to mask their own fear of what a changing world looks like. The anti mask laws that have been passed in KKKanada in June of 2013 carry a 10 year sentence if found guilty, all of this is a tactic and an attempt to prevent us from doing our work as warriors and creating safe sovereign spaces for us all to exist in free from the ever present surveillance from the illegal military occupation commonly known as Canaduh. They can make all the “laws” they want to control us but WE ARE NOT AFRAID of the governments and its citizens attempts to further oppress and suppress us as the true Indigenous People of the lands, we have never surrendered nor have we ceded our rights as Nations. Despite their best attempts to eradicate us off of the face of the earth, control us through residential schools, or break us down with the Indian Act and its racist policies we are not only still here, we are thriving and fighting back. We are prayers made flesh.

14523214_10157797426480637_7164812730644949928_nWe mask up to be free, we mask up to be our most authentic selves, we mask up to protect ourselves, we mask up to protect our loved ones, we mask up for love and out of respect for each other and Mother Earth, we mask up to honor our ancestors, our ancestors wore masks and war paint and so shall we. The mask is not to be feared it is to be revered.

In Love and Rage

Ancestral Pride
Red Warrior Society

For More Info:
https://www.facebook.com/peoplesmediaproject/videos/952058141589924/
https://www.facebook.com/RedWarriorCamp/videos/1772993369619282/
https://www.facebook.com/Westcoastwomenwarriors/videos/591453384390050/

The Dark Side of Clean Energy in Mexico

CIP Americas Program

January 29, 2016

By Santiago Navarro F. and Renata Bessi

 

Companies and governments have used a rhetoric of  “clean development” to continue exponential economic growth, with megaprojects and so-called clean technologies. International mechanisms, such as the Clean Development Mechanism for developing countries (CDM) promote this strategy. However, there are contrary positions, especially in the geographical areas where these projects considered alternative are developed.

In southern Mexico the generation of clean energy in the form of giant wind energy projects has divided communities.  Opposing positions claim indigenous and peasant ancestral lands are being dispossessed and that the projects have important negative impacts on the ecosystem that are being overlooked.

Loaded with a series of questions, this reporting team travelled to one of the largest wind farms in the world, built in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, a region that is home to the indigenous Huaves, Mixes, Zapotec, Zoque and Chontales. In this area least 21 wind farms have been installed in the last 21 years, comprising the Tehuantepec Isthmus Wind Corridor. Developers have plans to build 28 parks for clean energy generation in the region

 

Celestino Bortolo Teran is an Indigenous Zapotec whose land has been surrounded by the company Gas Natural Fenosa’s wind farm. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

ISTHMUS OF TEHUANTEPEC EPICENTER OF CLEAN ENERGY

A palm hat worn down by time covers the face of Celestino Bortolo Teran, a sixty-year-old indigenous Zapotec man. He walks behind his ox team as they open furrows in the earth. A seventeen-year-old youth trails behind, sowing white, red, and black corn, a ritual of ancient knowledge shared between local people and the earth. Neither of the two notices the sound of our car as we arrive, “because of the wind turbines,” says Teran. Just fifty meters away, a wind farm has been installed by the Spanish company Natural Gas Fenosa. It will generate, at least for the next three decades, what governments and energy companies have declared clean energy.

Along with this farm, twenty others have been set up forming what has come to be known as the Wind Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, located in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.  The Corridor occupies a surface area of 17,867.8 hectares across which 1,608 wind turbines have been installed. The Secretary of Tourism and Economic Development of Oaxaca (STDEO) claims that they will collectively generate 2,267.43 MW.

The Tehuantepec Isthmus stretches just two hundred kilometers from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, making it the third narrowest strip of land connecting the Americas after the isthmuses in Nicaragua and Panama. Mountains converge here to create a geological tunnel that funnels extremely high-speed winds between the two oceans. Energy investors have set their sights on the region since the government of Oaxaca claimed that the region is capable of producing 10,000 MW of wind energy in an area of 100,000 hectares.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 200 kilometers of land connected with the Atlantic and Pacific. The arrow marks the direction of the wind.

“Before, I could hear all the animals living in the areas. Through their songs and sounds, I knew when it was going to rain or when it was the best time to plant. Now though, it seems the animals have left due to the wind turbines,” Teran told us, with sadness and rage in his voice. Teran does not know if the claims that the turbines, are generating alternative energy to help to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of large corporations and industrialized countries are true or not. The project was built in accordance with the Clean Development Mechanism (MDL) as defined in the Kyoto Protocol. The main objective is to prevent global temperatures from rising 2°C before 2100, according to the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), better known as the COP 21, held in Paris, France Nov. 30-Dec. 11, 2015. “I don’t know what climate change is and I don’t know about the COP. I only know that our ancestral lands are being covered by these turbines,” “I don’t know what climate change is and I don’t know about the COP. I only know that our ancestral lands are being covered by these turbines,” said Teran.

At the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992, participating countries passed the UNFCCC in response to climate change. With this accord, states set out to maintain their GHG emissions at the levels reached in 1990. At the Third Conference of Parties (COP 3), held in Japan in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was approved by industrialized countries with the aim of reducing national emissions to an average of five percent below the 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. In order to help reduce the costs of this reduction, three “flexibility mechanisms” were designed: Emission trading, Joint Implementation (JI), and the aforementioned Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under which a large number of the wind farms in the Tehuantepec Isthmus have been constructed.

According to the Kyoto Protocol, these mechanisms are meant to permit industrialized countries and private companies to offset their emissions by developing clean energy projects in other parts of the world where it is more economically viable and then include these reductions in their national quotas. Joint Implementation targets projects in Eastern European countries, many formerly members of the Soviet Union, while the CDM is only applicable to developing countries that were not given a GHG emission limit under the Kyoto Protocol.  The second period of engagement of the Protocol is 2013-2020. In this period, countries in the European Union (excluding Iceland) have agreed to a collective emission reduction of twenty percent with respect to 1990 emission levels.

“The investment of polluting companies and countries in CDM projects and carbon credits is a form of speculation that has turned pollution into a business”Biologist and coastal ecology and fishery sciences professor and researcher Patricia Mora, of the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Integral Regional Development of Oaxaca (CIIDIR Oaxaca) based at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, affirms that many studies show that as temperatures continue to increase, “The investment of polluting companies and countries in CDM projects and carbon credits is a form of speculation that has turned pollution into a business”.

The secretary general of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, speaking in Berlin on the national plans published by 146 countries to combat climate change last October, that if the international community does not take urgent action, global temperatures will rise four or five degrees Celsius by 2100 according to estimates of the International Energy Agency.

The Clean Energy Extraction and Energy Transition Financing Law states that Mexico will install technology to generate 25,000 MW of clean energy by 2024. “Mexico has an obligation to limit the electrical energy generated by fossil fuels to sixty-five percent (from the current eighty percent) by 2024,” the law states.

Here, I have everything – milk, corn, fruits, vegetables. It is all a product of my work and produced naturally.Teran continues sowing his corn as we ask him about the benefits he’s gained from the Wind Corridor. A bit irritated, he responds, “They have not provided me or anyone in my family a job, and I don’t want anything to do with these companies or the government. I just want them to leave me in peace on my land, to let me live as I did beforehand. Here, I have everything – milk, corn, fruits, vegetables. It is all a product of my work and produced naturally. Here, I have everything – milk, corn, fruits, vegetables. It is all a product of my work and produced naturally. We don’t use any agrochemicals.”

Wind farms for sale

Most wind turbines are stained with lubricants in the blades and in the engine. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F)

Most wind turbines are stained with lubricants in the blades and in the engine. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

WIND FARMS FOR SALE

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published an atlas in 2004 that mapped wind potential in the state of Oaxaca, with the goal of accelerating the use of wind energy technologies in the state.

“This wind resource atlas is an example of collaboration between Mexico and the United States, besides being an important element of the Mexican strategy to ensure availability of the necessary information and to define specific renewable energy projects, as well as tools to access financing and development support. The goal in creating this wind atlas and other assessments of renewable resources is to ensure that communities of Oaxaca in the end receive social and economic benefits of renewable energy,” explains the document.

The mapping confirms that the Isthmus is the region with the largest wind potential, with winds up to 60 km /h. “This region of the Isthmus provides an excellent wind resource, especially the regions of La Mata, La Venta and La Ventosa”, the Atlas concludes.

The first project was developed at La Venta in 1994. The first project of its kind in Latin America, it was named “La Venta I”. Later followed La Venta II and La Venta III. The first two are operated by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the latter by the Spanish company ACCIONA.

The researchers say they will not share specific maps related to the respective areas of wind potential, due to the confidentiality required in possible contracts signed between companies and the government of Mexico. A decade later, with the arrival of more wind parks in the region, it has become clear that the majority of these sites are located on the shores of Lago Superior.

Map of the wind resource assessment conducted by USAID
Energy Map
To further promote the development of wind energy in Mexico and the possibility of export,  USAID released another document in 2009 called “Study of Export Potential Wind Energy of Mexico to the United States”. This document confirms that the greatest potential for wind energy is concentrated in the states of Oaxaca (2,600 MW) and Baja California (1,400 MW). In August 2015 the government of Mexico officially announced that the wind farm “Energía Sierra Juárez” Baja California, the first wind project between Mexico and the United States, will export energy to California. And they are waiting for an interconnection to export the energy produced in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.“This mapping is only one part of a series of mega-projects that are designed for this area. Not only is it wind energy, but also oil and gas, mining, and infrastructure for the transport of goods. Therefore, this wind mapping is only a pretext to map the full potential of this whole geostrategic area, which functions as a type of catalog to offer it to businesses,” says biologist Mora.The wind corridor was designed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994 by Mexico, the United States and Canada. NAFTA implementation began with the international agreement called Plan Puebla Panama (PPP), now remade into Proyecto Mesoamerica. The project’s main objective is to create favorable conditions for the flow of goods, oil, minerals and energy, which was necessary, according to the official document of the PPP, for “the creation of roads, paths, steps, bridges, railways, pipelines , aqueducts, power lines, ports, airports and telecommunications. “The president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, recently announced the creation of three special economic zones in the south of the country, including the Interoceanic Corridor of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, “in order to generate new poles of industrial development and diminish the economic and social backwardness of these regions,” the report said.

“Clean energy is part of this context. It’s part of the continuity of the exponential economic growth of capital, it is not something alternative to it. It’s another link that is painted green,” Mora states.

THE COSTS OF CLEAN ENERGY

There is currently no established wind farm that respects biodiversity. (Photo: Renata Bessi)
There is currently no established wind farm that respects biodiversity. (Photo: Renata Bessi)

The dominant development model in the production of electricity from wind power in the Tehuantepec Isthmus, is presented as a  formula in which  everyone wins – the government, developers and industry. It’s a self-supply model, in which a private developer of wind power generates energy production contracts for a wide portfolio of industrial customers (Coca-Cola, CEMEX, Wal-Mart, Bimbo, for example) for a certain period. In this way, companies can obtain energy prices lower than the market for the  long-term and they also enjoy the financial benefits of carbon trading, which allows them to continue polluting and, to speculate on the sale of pollution permits to other companies. Developers can also access financing schemes for “green” projects through organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the UN.The communities are also presented as winners in these projects for the development of self-sufficiency and the income they receive from the lease of their land. But two decades after the first wind farms were installed,  what benefits gains have these Clean Development Mechanism projects left to the peasant and indigenous communities?

¿Why the resistance?

In response to constant harassment and persecution, the Alvaro Obregon community created a community police force called “Binni Guiapa Guidxi” In November of 2012, the consortium Mareña Renovables set out to build the largest wind farm in Latin America in the Barra de Santa Teresa, in San Dionisio del Mar, Oaxaca. The Barra is a strip of land between two  lagoon that later connects to the sea in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Here the indigenous community of binniza (Zapotec) and ikojts (Huave), together with the community of Alvaro Obregon, opposed and blocked all access to this strip of land. In response, the State sent about 500 troops from the state police to unblock access, acting with extreme violence. The Indians resisted until the government suspended construction of the wind park. In response to constant harassment and persecution,the Alvaro Obregon community created a community police force called “Binni Guiapa Guidxi” on February 9, 2013.

Also in  February 2013, the situation in Alvaro Obregon–the only access to the Barra Santa Teresa–became tense. Police established a checkpoint  at the entrance of the community. Two Americans spoke with the commander of the local police. One of them was Andrew Chapman, a member of the management team of the company Mareña Renovables.

Bar Santa Teresa

Three researchers, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer, both of Rice University, and Edith Barrera of Universidad del Mar, who were in the region studying the resistance against the company, approached Chapman. He explained his work in the area to the researchers: “My job is to open dialogue and listen (…) We have this project, which I really think is good for the planet, good for the region and good for the people here” .

The director was clearly displeased at the opposition from the community to the wind project. “One cannot but be amazed at the beauty of this place. And then you see how people live. And I’m not just trying to impose my American values here, but I don’t think that bad health care is a good thing, I don’t think that poor education is a good thing … So we can channel resources to these communities to improve services. Imagine where they could be here in five or ten years. They can still continue fishing in the lakes (…) “, the researchers cite Chapman as saying in their text, “The Margins of the Wind State: Autonomy and Development of Renewable Energy in Southern Mexico”.

Chapman questioned the suggestions of the police to not enter the community for lack of security. “I find it frustrating and sad, and the consequence is that the investor group I represent is sitting in their offices and can put their money here, or they can put their money somewhere else. I don’t need these problems. I’m not really in the business of saving the world, I’m in business to make money for my trust, and I have to do it under low risk. “

Since 2013 what was known as Mareña Renovables has changed its name and form several times. The Spanish energy company, called the Preneal group, that signed exploration contracts and obtained the permits from the state government, sold the rights to the project (which at that time were two separate projects) for $89 million to FEMSA, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, and Macquarie Group, the largest investment bank in Australia. These companies quickly merged the two projects and sold part of their stake to Mitsubishi Corporation and the Dutch pension fund PGGM, signing at the same time a power purchase agreement with FEMSA-Heineken for 20 years.

They also sought to speculate with the reduction  of 825,707 tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to the emissions of 161,903 cars.

Under the pretext of reducing global warming they come to our territories to control our forests, mountains, our sacred places and our water.“Mother Earth is sick. The disease is global warming, caused by the owners of money. They believe that money can buy life. They want to profit with the same disease that they have caused to Mother Earth. Under the pretext of reducing global warming they come to our territories to control our forests, mountains, our sacred places and our water. They are causing devastation in our social fabric,” said Carlos Sanchez, Zapotec Indian who participated in the resistance against the installation of wind farm in Barra Santa Teresa Park and the installation of a park by Gas Natural Fenosa in Juchitan de Zaragoza.

Juchitán-Oaxaca-Zapotec-Indian-resistance-to-building-one-of-largest-wind-farms-in-Latin-America-despite-death-threats-from-paramilitary-groups-paid-by-companies-Photo-Santiago-Navarro-F.

Juchitán Oaxaca: Zapotec Indians show solidarity with resistance to building one of the largest wind farms in Latin America, despite death threats from paramilitary groups paid by companies and protected by the government. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

Sanchez is also founder and member of the community radio Totopo, created to report on megaprojects in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. During an intermission of his radio programming, we threw a question at Sanchez about what the Zapotec people know about the CDM. “It is a discourse between businessmen. They are labels exchanged between companies to justify their pollution and they don’t explain anything to indigenous peoples,” he replied.

“Could we, with our forests, also sell carbon credits, bypassing these companies? Who will buy? It is no coincidence that only those who understand these mechanisms are the only ones who benefit as employers and the state. It is a farce that is presented as very nice and green.”

Sanchez continues, “We do not even benefit from the energy produced. Instead, the energy is more expensive for ordinary consumers. While the transnational corporations that are supplied with this clean energy are paying prices that make you laugh. If you walk by the communities you will notice what the clean development they have brought consists of, and I challenge one of the owners of the companies to actually live in the midst of these turbines. They live in their mansions. “

The Environmental and Social Management, published by the IDB in November 2011, noted the possibility of short-term “economic dislocation” of the population because of the interruption of fishing during the construction phase of the Marena Renovables park. But the long-term impacts of the presence of the park on the local population engaged in fishing were not mentioned.

Following demonstrations by indigenous peoples, on May 8, 2013, the Oaxaca State Secretary of Tourism, José Zorrilla Diego, announced the cancellation of the proposed Renewable Mareña project in the Barra de Santa Teresa. Shortly after the announcement of the cancellation, the state government said the project would continue in other areas of the Isthmus.

THE UNDERESTIMATED ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC IMPACTS

After the resistance in Barra Santa Teresa in 2013, the Zapotec community of Carlos Sanchez, in the city of Juchitan de Zaragoza, received the news that a park would be installed on their land. Despite resistance from the community, the Spanish company Gas Natural Fenosa installed the Biío Hioxo park (“strong wind” in the Zapotec language). With 117 wind turbines, the company estimates that they will prevent the emission of 400,000 tons of CO2 annually.

The environmental impact study conducted by the URS Corporation Mexico in 2008, contracted by the company Gas Natural Fenosa, testifies that the development of the wind farm “in this area of Oaxaca state is a clear example of sustainable development” and that “the project is environmentally viable because it uses renewable resources and does not generates significant impacts on the environment.”

The study finds no significant impacts on wildlife; the biggest impact and one that will be given the necessary attention, according to the report, is the risk of birds colliding with the turbines. Regarding flora, the same study found that the removal of vegetation would also have no significant impact.

Local communities and environmentalists report that in fact wildlife is being affected. The regions of Barra Santa Teresa, in Alvaro Obregon, and Playa San Vicente in Juchitan de Zaragoza are particularly special because of the close interaction of the species inhabiting these ecosystems. “That is where the border of several closely related ecosystems are, of water and land, called ‘ecotones’. What happens to them separately affects the dynamics in a way that threatens the very existence of all the ecosystems as a whole “, biologist Patricia Mora states.

The biologist analyzes two levels of impacts at different phases of the Project. The first is the direct impact. When installing the project they have to “dismantle”, that is, remove the vegetation. This implies destruction of plants, as sessile organisms – those that don’t have a body to serve as a foot or support. There are also slow displacements of animals and organisms, including reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, arachnids, fungi, viruses etc.

Generally, we only consider the macro, that is, the larger organisms, and not the tiny microscopic organisms. Yet often that’s where there’s the most damage. Many micro-organisms have yet to be identified and interestingly enough, these organisms are really what keep the ecosystems living and in balance. In many Mexican ecosystems, there are only a few of these species documented, which means that one cannot quantify their precise function or the actual damage. Many endemic, native species are in some degree of danger that is recognized on national and international lists.

After completing the construction phase, indirect impact continues. Ecosystems are disrupted and fragmented and therefore there is a greater likelihood of their disappearance, due to changing land use and climate change.

“These are considered very fragile ecosystems. Due to the geographical location, we are talking about  semi-arid zones where the water cycle is vital. These ecosystems act as moisture retainers and their disappearance drastically changes the soil’s moisture capacity. As the vegetation disappears these will become totally uninhabited deserts, because solar radiation changes the dynamics of the soil and it doesn’t allow new vegetation”, Mora says.

The biologist questions the way the environmental impact studies are done. “Usually there are ‘agreements’ behind closed doors, between consulting or research centers and government offices, prior to the studies. Standard templates  are used, where information is copied, sometimes poorly copied; where lies or half-truths are told. The focus on specific aspects of the project deviates, but it apparently meets the ‘requirements’ on paper.  I know this because I’ve worked with the consultants who develop such projects. Additionally, many of the projects in operation today do not even have an environmental impact study,” says the biologist.

But there is no consideration for the chain of production.Mora argues that, in order to consider a clean energy project it would have to meet rigorous environmental impact studies that consider the entire chain of energy production. “It is true that the wind is clean,” says the researcher. But there is no consideration for the chain of production. They have to consider the types of metals using a single generator. For example, the steel is usually mined in open pit mines; there they use water, energy, and ecosystems were also devastated. Oil was used for the smelter and transportation. The same applies to the lubricants used. The life of each turbine that is 20 to 30 years is added and then must be replaced with new ones.

Missing accompanying studies

Environmental impact studies were not mandatory until recently, and much less those studies that analyze continued impact  after construction. As for social impact, there  simply are no studies. An indigenous man, Teran,  lives within 50 meters of the Biío Hioxo turbines of Natural Fenosa Gas. He is one of the few peasants who did not agree to lease their land for the installation of wind turbines.

We do not know what awaits the next generation of children to be born. I’ve never seen this in my life“After the park came, I noticed that the animals changed. An example is with the first generation of calves. They were born with a deformity in the navel. A type of hernia hanging up to 50 centimeters long and some of them did not survive,” says Teran. “I sincerely wish that committed scholars would come to investigate these effects on animals because the second generation comes next year in 2016. We do not know what awaits the next generation of children to be born. I’ve never seen this in my life,” adds Teran.

The farmer tells about declining rainfall and increased thunderstorms. “It rains a lot less and thelightning strikes the turbines or the trees. It is dangerous to remain in the middle of the park when these storms come, “ says Teran. He adds that the well water used for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene, which is a few meters from the turbines, “is no longer the same water. There is a distinct taste that irritates the skin.”

Roberto Martinez, a local fisherman, tells us that traditionally migratory birds came there to drink at Cienegas, where there was water in abundance. “I think the birds are shifting their migration path because they no longer come as before.”

The  environmental impact study foresaw effects on the birds. “The fauna directly affected during the operation phase of the Project are the mortality of birds and bats caused by collisions with wind turbines, by habitat fragmentation and the noise”, says  the study.

In the same park, Carlos Sanchez says, “We know that companies have found veins of water and are closing them off with the foundations of the projects. They’re  using a special liquid to slow the flow of water, we do not know exactly what kind of substance it is.”

Not so clean energy

To set the turbines hundreds of tons of cement that interrupt the water flows are used. “It is worth mentioning that they are using the cement company CEMEX, which also has a wind farm in the Isthmus,” Mora notes.

Park EURUS wind turbines

The population of La Venta, where the first wind farm was built, was literally surrounded by turbines. Under the argument of increasing self-sufficiency,  another wind park called Eurus was built in 2009, and later auctioned off with capital of the Spanish company Acciona and the transnational construction materials company CEMEX.

CEMEX can be seen as a role model of the (MDL) CDM. The company has been listed as a clean and responsible company and has registered several projects under the mechanism. In its 2013 report CEMEX boasts of expanding their projects with the CDM model. “Six new initiatives were registered as (MDL) CDM in 2013, which include four alternative fuel projects in Mexico and Panama and two wind farms located in Mexico, among those Eurus and Ventika.”

In 2015 the Eurus wind farm won the prize awarded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB Infrastructure 360 °) in the category of “Impact on Population and Leadership,” which recognizes outstanding sustainability practices in infrastructure investments in Latin America and Caribbean.

In February 2015, community activists and social organizations of Venta denounced that, “about 150 wind turbines of the wind farm Eurus and Oaxaca III, owned by Acciona, have spilt oil on the blades and main coil, which has polluted the subsoil and water, and the farmers and ranchers who have ranches surrounding the place,”  defenders of the Earth and Sea asserted. Both wind farms have 1500 MW turbines, which need 400 liters of synthetic oil, while the 800 MW turbines only require 200 liters of oil per turbine per year.

Continuity resistance

The company Natural Gas Fenosa has anounced it will use a gate to prevent access of peasants and indigenous to the enclosed polygon of the wind farm. Only employees and local residents and workers would have access. “That would prevent fishermen’s access to the sea and the hunters’ access to the Lago Superior hunting areas,” explains Zapotec indigenous Faustina Martinez Lopez, who lives in the area. Also in this area there are seven sacred sites for indigenous peoples.

Women in resistance by the construction of the wind farm on the bar Santa Teresa

Local resistance began with the complaint of a farmer on the community radio Totopo, which transmits in the native Zapotec language as many do not communicate in Spanish. “Other farmers, fishermen and indigenous people heard that complaint and began approaching the radio. There began a process of organization. This is when the Juchiteco Peoples Assembly  (APPJ) was founded,” recalls Sanchez. “It was when the community organized to resist and prevent the enclosure of wind turbines. A barricade was built to block access to Playa Vicente (Lago Superior), where the polygon began. The barricade remained for two months. But the company began using police and hit men and death threats to evict,” says Sanchez.

One of the worst clashes between the community and the police happened when a group of us went for a tour in the location where the company had already begun their work. Women and children remained at the barricade. 25 vans and cars arrived and violently pressured them to leave the barricade. “Quickly the sisters called us by phone and we mobilized the community through Radio Totopo and a battle broke out,” said Sanchez, who later was ambushed and beaten by a group of subjects.

In the end, the company finished construction of its wind turbines without fences, keeping the polygon open to hunters and fishermen.

Justice

In 2013 the APPJ filed an agricultural  injunction against the company Gas Natural Fenosa for not having conducted a free and informed  prior consultation, as required by the International Labour Organization. “The company will initiate the second phase of the project, and the judge has yet to issue a judgment. They said they would send an anthropological expert to evaluate whether these lands are where our ancestors lived. Only in this way, the injunction will continue. There are studies and testimonies that have been here since long before the formation of the Mexican State. We are a Zapotec Indian village, an ancient people, we retain our language, our traditions, it is offensive that the judge would even say that. He should not even be considered Mexican, because he does not know the history of the people of Mexico,” said Sanchez.

VIOLATED SACRED LANDS

Carlos Sanchez walks slowly with downcast eyes, mapping each centimeter he steps on the sand of Playa Vicente, in the Lago Superior. The seaside landscape painted with pelicans and herons flying above the fishermen, contrasts sharply with the line of wind turbines. Sanchez seeks traces of his ancestors to share with the reporting team. “There are so many traces around these territories that it’s possible to find pieces on the surface,” he says.

Vestiges buried on the shores of the beach San Vicente

The Isthmus of Tehuantepec has been occupied by different cultural and linguistic groups from more than 3, 500 years ago, by speakers of Mixe and Zoque languages. It is very likely that large and stable populations existed around1200 BC. “This indicates the amount of time that these communities have been associated with the environment, creating knowledge and transforming it in such a way that one can say that the natural environment of the Isthmus is a cultural construct, and that culture is a construct that has a close relationship with the nature of the geographical area in question, “explains Alfredo Saynes, Faculty of Sciences of the UNAM.

Sanchez steps forward, stops suddenly and points to two objects on the sand. Once up close, you can see two clay pots buried with just part revealed on the surface. “When the tide is low we can  see several vestiges of ancient temples, such as these,” he tells us.

According to archaeologist Agustín Andrade Cuautle, of the National Institute of Archaeology and History, the state of Oaxaca has the largest number of registered archaeological sites in Mexico. Of the 4,000 registered throughout Oaxaca, 100 are in the Isthmus.

Land of refuge – The land where the wind estate company Gas Natural Fenosa is installed is suitable for agriculture thanks to the river water of Los Perros. The Los Perros River through these lands and floods them throughout the rainy season. “The environmental impact study states that this is eroded land, which has only garbage and flies, but it’s not true. These lands have given life to the Zapotec civilization of this region, precisely because of its fertility, “Sanchez shares.

The Istmeños are the last real Zapotecs after the Aztecs converted the Zapotecs in the north into their subjects, assimilating them culturally and linguistically. Throughout their history they resisted several attempts of domination, even fought against the invasion of the French, when they tried to colonize Mexico. To date they are recognized as people who resist and struggle.

In each of their sacred sites that are within the wind polygon -Santa Cruz Paso Cnu, Santa Cruz Guelaxada ‘, Santa Cruz Chigue’ze’, Santa Cruz Guelabe’ne ‘Guiiguidxita Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Guuzebenda–there are the tombs of Zapotec Indians who participated in the Mexican revolution of 1910, which allowed them to keep their land in their hands.

Santa Cruz sacred site MAY 12

Historically, this town had already taken up arms, since the independence of Mexico until the Mexican Revolution in order to defend their territory. When the government sent troops, the village would empty everything in order to not leave any food for them. They took their chickens, animals and took refuge in these very same sacred places. “This area provided protection to the people, for being fertile. And there the resistance survived. These places have served as protection in many moments of our history. That is why an attack on these parks are an attack against us,” says Faustina López Martínez.

According to Sánchez, part of the site called Guelabe’ne ‘was destroyed because of the wind park. “They filled it with stones to build a road.” In addition, the paths of two other sites were also affected. “The road to Santa Cruz Chigue ‘ze’ was cut by a road in the wind energy business. The road to Santa Cruz Guelabe’ne ‘was completely destroyed, the pilgrimage can only pass coming in other ways. “

“The roads are critical to our rituals,” said Faustina. As each year, the community makes a pilgrimage to their holy sites. “They conducted no impact study for our sites,” she adds.

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND PERSECUTIONS

The radio station has suffered several attempts to close it down, with raids by police federal and Navy.Community organization against the wind farm in the Barra de Santa Teresa was the first major resistance against the ways in which these companies are developing their projects on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Sanchez reports that, not coincidentally, it is in this period that the companies began hiring hit men, with the backing of the state.“We see gunmen escorted to the state police. The community is so small, so we know who they are. Because of the threats we began to receive three companions had to leave the community. Some of us have been persecuted with absurd lawsuits, accusing us of kidnapping, attacks on the roads, and damage to other people’s private property. They began to detain people involved in the movement. We have received threats by phone. The radio station has suffered several attempts to close it down, with raids by police federal and Navy. They have now another sign mounted above ours to interfere,” says Sanchez.Sanchez reports that since 2013 he does not go to public places. His mobility is restricted to the community. “We were offered the protection mechanism of the Ministry of Interior. But we have realized that the task of protection has been given to the state police, the same people who attacked us. I didn’t know whether they have come to protect me or arrest me. So I rejected this protection mechanism and started a small personal protection protocol, “says Sanchez. APPJ members filed a complaint in court and still have not received averdict. “The state supports the wind companies,” Sanchez concludes.The Committee for the Integral Defense of Human Rights Gobixha (CódigoDH) Oaxaca demanded the immediate intervention of the federal and state governments to stop the wave of violence against supporters of the Popular Assembly of the People of Juchitan (APPJ) who have been victims of threats , harassment, persecution and attacks, including the murder of one of its members. This followed the conflict rooted in the construction of the Bii Hioxo wind farm, according to the Committee. But there was no response.The company Gas Natural Fenosa rejects the accusations, ensuring that: “While certain groups have filed several allegations regarding violations of human rights of communities affected by the project, Gas Natural Fenosa says they are unfounded, that they lack objective justification, and are incompatible with the commitments made by the company’s Human Rights Policy. “

 

NEW STRATEGY, NEW PARK, OLD PROBLEMS

It did not take long for the government’s promise made in 2013 to relocate the project from the Barra de  Santa Teresa to another zone in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec to take shape. In 2014, the company Mareña Renovables, now called Eolica del Sur (Southern Wind), found a new place to develop clean energy and contribute to the goals of reducing greenhouse gases, in the Lago Superior.

In 2016, the project foresees the installation of 132 wind turbines of 3 MW each in an area of 5,332 hectares, avoiding the emission of 879,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year, according to the company.

An independent report released by researchers from different fields and universities – UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), UCCS (Union of Scientists Committed to Society), UAM (Metropolitan Autonomous University) and ENAH (National School of Anthropology and History), points out various inconsistencies in the environmental impact study submitted by the company and approved by the Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources (SEMANART).

The first contradiction regards the company that made the study. The company responsible is Especialistas Ambientales (Environmental Specialists). According to the Constitutive Act of the company, the founding partner is the engineer Rodolfo Lacy Tamayo, current Undersecretary of Planning and Environmental Policy of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources. “Based on the above, we have a concern regarding the independence and objectivity in both the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as well as the approval” states the report.

The document warned that there are many inconsistencies with respect to Baja Espinoza Forest (Selva Baja Espinosa), which is to be cleared for the construction of this project, since the study did not produce a map of land use and vegetation at the scale of the polygon. Evaluating the information available on the MIA’s own field research, “our analysis shows that the developer intends to cut 100% of the tree surface without proposing any measure of compensation.”

San Vicente Beach

“This is particularly worrying because the polygon project affects the Biological Corridor in Oaxaca in the Isthmus-Chimalapas Region, which in turn is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. According to CONABIO, the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor in Mexico was established with the purpose of coordinating policies for the conservation and sustainable management of resources in priority areas in the southeastern region of the country  regarding conservation of biodiversity. (…) The Selva Baja Espinoza forms a biological corridor connecting the Priority Marine Regions: Continental Shelf Gulf of Tehuantepec, and Upper and Lower Laguna; and Terrestrial Priority Regions: Northern Sierras of Oaxaca Mixe and Zoque-La Selva Sepultura “says the document.

According to Eduardo Centeno, director of the Eolica del Sur  company, the MIA was submitted in accordance with Mexican law and contains mitigation measures and preventive measures for the environment, including reforestation. “One benefit is that [by means of reforestation programs and mitigation] it will enable environmental surveillance and protection of archaeological sites that would not exist if the project were not done”, he explains.

Another concern of communities relates to water pollution in the lagoon and ocean as a result of the oil that will drain on the beaches, estimated at 300 liters per windmill. According to Mora, Genoveva Bernal of Semarnat, the institution responsible for approving the MIA, says the park will not affect Lago Superior at 3.9 km. She notes that the ministry does not guarantee, “that it will not affect, like it has done to other parks in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the groundwater of the region.”

Alejandro Castaneira, professor and researcher at the ENAH, who participated in writing the Report, says the SEMANART authorized an environmental impact study that was wrongly produced. “It is  announced that parks are generating clean energy. Are we going to use clean energy to produce Coca-Cola and Lays Chips while poverty continues?” asks Castaneira.

Participatory process?

After the events of 2013, Eolica del Sur and the State convened for the first free, prior and informed consultation, under Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for indigenous peoples, 22 years since the arrival of the first wind farm in the time Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This consultation began in November 2014 and was completed in July 2015, and is regarded as a essential element for the project to become effective. The federal and state government as well as the company claim that the consultation fulfilled its role, which justifies the project since most of the participants approved. On the other hand, there is enormous pressure for the cancellation of the consultation because of the irregularities denounced during the Consultation and, since they were not taken into account they limited the  assembly and thus the presence of those affected.

At a press conference, Bettina Cruz Velázquez, a member of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Defense of Land and Territory, said that the consultation was carried out after local and federal permits and approvals of land use had already been given by authorities and claimed this shows the federal government’s decision to strip Binni Záa (Zapotec) of its territory. “The consultation is a simulation, the ground was already prepared to start the operations of the company and they also play with the ignorance of communities in regards to this. They do not respect international standards,” says Cruz Velasquez.

A petition for relief was filed for the 1,166 indigenous  binni’zaa, in order to protect indigenous rights and defend their  territory against the wind project. On September 30, the Seventh District Judge of Salina Cruz, Isaiah Corona Coronado accepted the injunction against the construction and operation of the megaproject Eolica del Sur in its territory and issued an order to suspend all licenses, permits, goods, approvals, licenses and land use changes granted by federal and local authorities, until the final judgment is issued.

According to the lawyer Ricardo Lagines Gasca, adviser to the community, the company is affected by the petition as a third party. But those who are really being sued are municipal authorities, Energy Regulatory Commission, the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources, the City of Juchitan, and the National Institute of Anthropology and History, which stated that the area would be free of any effects against archaeological pieces or remains.

“The state allows these projects one the one hand, allowing all the state and federal agencies to expedite permits. Yet indigenous peoples are not aware of these legal proceedings, so that they can actually participate in decisions and not simply be consulted after the decision was already taken. The whole Isthmus territory has been divided between companies based on the lack of awareness of the peasant and indigenous communities who live here, “says Garza.

Even with the temporary cancellation of the park, the governor of Oaxaca, Gabino Cue, in his report released in November, states the project installation as a given and as a result of the consultation. “In collaboration with the Federal Government, the State Government managed to confirm one of the most important investments in Latin America in the field of wind power generation, worth a billion dollars, in the upcoming construction of the wind farm with the company Eolica del Sur, which will generate 396 MW, “ says the document.

Informed consultation?

Independent consultant Isaac Portugal Rosas was invited by the organizers of the Consultation to describe the operation of the energy system in the country. During his presentation, he explained with technical details how energy circulates throughout the national network. In answering a question he himself posed: Why is the energy generated in the parks not necessarily used here in the communities where it is produced?, he responded. “Energy is not like any good, like an orange, for example, that can be sold anywhere one wishes. There is a system, the National Power Control Center dedicated to balance the entire national energy system, because it can not be stored. This center facilitates the distribution of energy which is released into the national system at all times. We have no way to verify that the energy produced here is used by a company in Monterrey, for example, “he explains.

What seems like a technical explanation on behalf of the consultant, who appears as independent, reveals that the wind energy produced in the isthmus has specific destination – consumption for companies – even before they begin to generate.

According to the Commission for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, of the federal Ministry of Government, in a  document titled Wind Energy in Mexico: a social perspective on the value of the land, states that unequal access to electricity is produced from wind energy because of international financial institutions, developed countries and multinational wind companies that fund and define the general guidelines that orient wind power projects on a large scale in Mexico. Their interests are guided more by the pursuit of profit in the short term, rather than to solve environmental problems.

“It was an `uninformed´ consultation. The company and the government stated what they wanted. What we heard there is not very reliable,”says Sanchez.

COMMON LANDS: AN OBSTACLE FOR COMPANIES

“As children we took advantage of the wind that exists in our land to move small pinwheels much like the wind turbines. We also found ways that would allow the wind to move something small. All rustic. Now you can do it with technology on a large scale,”says Juan Regalado, Zapotec Indian, from Union Hidalgo village of Juchitan, where the wind company Demex came in 2011.” The damage these businesses are doing the social fabric of our communities is not right” said Regalado referring to the park installed in his community, which does not even have an environmental impact study.

One of the major impacts is the conflict generated over land where the wind resource is located. The distribution of land after the revolution in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, is marked by a series of conflicts and changes in legislation. “The legal status of the lands of Juchitan to this day has not been clarified, which prevents clarity regarding how much it is, where communal land is located, and who regulates the sale of ejido. This situation is now aggravated by the change in land use for the installation of wind farms, “says the NGO DH Code.

According to Regalado, there is no doubt that wind turbines are on their communal lands. “There is a 1964 presidential decree where the titles to the common goods were confirmed. What is certain is that there are no private lands,” he explains.

According to him, the company’s interest is to deal with smallholdings because this way they make direct contact with a single person. “In communal lands, deals are made with the villagers. Not only the possessor of land must see advantages, but all the people of the community, because we are all affected,” he explains.

Based on the decree of 1964, Regalado and 16 others Hidalgo Union filed a lawsuit in the Agrarian Court requesting the cancellation of their contracts with the company. The legal question is whether the land is communal or private. If they are found to be communal, the contracts are automatically dissolved.

“The last judge we had of the Agrarian Court of the District of Tuxtepec said the contracts must be canceled, because they are within communal lands. But to support this decision, he decided he needed a survey by us and the company. Our expert argued that our land is within the communal estate of Juchitan, using the decree of 1964. The company hired an expert, who missed the deadline and could not answer. So they contracted a second expert, who missed the first deadline and are now expected to be late in the second, which still must be done this year, “Regalado said.

The Agrarian Court also consulted the Oaxaca Agrarian Office and the National Agrarian Registry, confirming that these lands are communal.

It is not surprising that Juchitan has this conformation. This is characteristic of the state of Oaxaca. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Development, 78% of the land in Oaxaca is collectively owned—shared ejidos, or indigenous communal lands.

“The aim is to cancel the contract with the company. It will be a precedent for other communities in the Isthmus. The sad thing is that the company, realizing that they will lose in court, has been looking to each of us individually to finish the contracts offering some money. It is a political issue, the group is strengthened and we are convinced that it is the Court that must rule that annulment with their respective damages to the company, “said Regalado.

Recurrent practices – The Commission for Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples of Mexico said that opponents to wind farms generally have said that the contracts do not provide clear information on the rights that owners have to lease their land.

“The contracts do not establish a clear distinction between productive farms and vacant land [which would generate different payments], and lack clauses regarding the renovation of payments. This is understood as the co-optation of community representatives, with simulation of ejido assemblies with signatures of dead people and others that do not appear in the ejido census to expedite the signing of contracts and individual negotiations between owners and companies, in order to exclude ejido assemblies to the processes of decision making,” says the document.

CLEAN ENERGY: THE REPRODUCTION OF INEQUALITY

According to documents from the Commission for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, international experience has shown that remuneration paid by energy companies erecting wind farms on leased lands oscillates between one and five percent of the gross income of the energy produced by the turbines. According to the European Association of Wind Energy, land rental there represents 3.9 percent of total costs. “However, the case of Mexico is drastically different if you take into account the much lower value compared to international standards: here, remuneration is between .025 and 1.53% [of gross income].”

In Europe, the value of land rental for wind farms far exceeds that which landholders can expect from other forms of land usage. The document highlights the case of Spain, where returns on land in Galicia, for example, go from 90,000 Euros for wind farms, 18,000 Euros for common land forestry, 4,500 Euros for woodland areas with high wind potential and 6,000 Euros for livestock areas.

According to the Tepeyac Human Rights Center, in the case of the energy company Fenosa Renovables’ contract with farmer Anastasio Toledo of Juchitán, it is stated that during the first phase of development, the construction of the wind park, they will begin paying him 150 pesos annually (9 Euros) per hectare. Payment for the installation of a wind turbine slides from 8,000 and 18,000 pesos (454 and 1,022 Euros) and afterwards a small percentage is added from the energy generated during the period.

“Because there is no organization that regulates the value of land in Mexico, energy companies pay landowners far less than the actual value, which can provoke tension in communities in which wind farms are set up,” states the human rights organization. “It is necessary to establish the laws and regulations which will define the range of value and the protocol for rights disputes when projects are set up on communal lands. This will help to protect the interests of indigenous communities,” the Commission for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico claims.

Who benefits from clean energy? The criteria that have been used to justify the implementation of wind parks in Mexico as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel energy production, are insufficient to determine the benefits, risks and broader implications of wind energy production, the Commission for Dialogue with the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico upholds. “The criteria ignore or underestimate the complexity and cognitivist and ethical uncertainty of the risks and impacts created by wind parks on a large scale. They cannot be seen as a viable energy alternative if they continue to reproduce and deepen socioeconomic and environmental inequalities between countries and between social groups within individual countries.”

 

In collaboration with Armando Carmona

 

Renata Bessi is a freelance journalist and contributor the Americas Program and Desinformémonos. She has published articles in Brazilian media: The Trecheiro newspaper magazine, Página 22, Repórter Brasil, Rede Brasil Atual, Brasil de Fato, Outras Palavras.]

[Santiago Navarro is an economist, a freelance journalist, photographer and contributor to the Americas Program, Desinformémonos and  SubVersiones.]

Eagle and Condor meet in Oneida

December 26, 2015

Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister addresses members of three different Oneida clan families.

Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister addresses members of three different Oneida clan families.

ONEIDA OF THE THAMES TERRITORY – On Sunday, October 25, a 10 person delegation headed by Irene Leon, advisor to the Ecuadorian foreign minister, was welcomed at the Kayanere’ko:wa longhouse within the K^onthyokwanhasta on Elijah Rd, on Oneida Nation territory. This gathering was the latest step in the development of an ongoing relationship between three traditional Oneida Nation clan families who follow the Kayanere’ko:wa (the Great Peace), and the movement known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).

Sunday’s delegation was received by some 35 members of the Turtle, Wolf and Bear clans, including Hoyane (chiefs) and clan mothers. The delegation from Ecuador included representatives from Alliance Pais, the coalition of social movements backing the current Ecudorian government as well as long time Chilean activists.

The main purpose of the delegation was to strengthen an ongoing relationship with traditional Onkwehon:we clan families that has been building since early April of last year. On April 8, 2015, a delegation of some 30 members from the Latin American community in Toronto accompanied Wilmer Barrentios, the Venezuelan ambassador to Canada for a meeting at the Kanien’kehà:ka (Mohawk) long house at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. At that meeting, diplomatic protocols were observed and lines of communication were opened between the Venezuelan government and clan families represented within the K^onthyokwanhasta or peoples wampum.

[The complete transcript of the diplomatic exchange from that visit is available online via the Two Row Times newspaper. The audio of the speech made by Venezuelan Ambassador Barrentios event, and the speech given in reply by Kanenhariyo on behalf of the Mohawk Longhouse are both available via the What’s Going On? Podcast. For more information about the K^onthyokwanhasta, check out Episode 9 of the What’s Going On Podcast.

Following the ambassador’s visit, representatives from the Ecuadorian government who had joined the delegation of April 8, continued to develop relations with the clan families involved in the K^onthyokwanhasta movement. The Ecuadorian consulate in Toronto reached out to members of the K^onthyokwanhasta in Oneida and Six Nations and Akwesasne, and asked for their help in coming to Washington on April 19th and 20th to stand together with the people affected by the ecologically destructive acts of Chevron.

In answering this call for help, over 100 traditional Onkwehon:we people from Oneida, Grand River, Tyendinaga, and Akwesasne drove to Washington for a rally outside the offices of the world bank in order to support the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and their $10 billion dollar lawsuit against oil giant Chevron for its pollution of the Amazon – an ecological disaster ranked as one of the greatest in human history.

Rotiskenrakehte gather outside of the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in April of 2015.

Rotiskenrakehte gather outside of the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in April of 2015.

The participation of the Onkwehonweh delegation was enthusiastically welcomed by the thousands of Ecuadorians present at the Washington rally, and the intervention in support of their southern cousins, was widely reported and made front page news in the daily papers in Ecuador.

Follow-up meetings were held with Ecuadorian representatives after the event, and Kanasaraken from the Bear Clan of the Akwesasne Mohawks was sent to Ecuador as a representative of the K^onthyokwanhasta for a meeting and a series of workshops concerning the anti-Chevron campaign.

This campaign, which has trended on Twitter with the hashtag #chevronsdirtyhand, has seen the Latin American community in Canada build relationships with Onkwehon:we people as well as with anti pipeline movements such as the Unist’ot’en camp in BC which stand in the way of a major tar sands pipeline backed by Chevron. The gathering at the Oneida longhouse on Sunday, October 25, thus represented a continuation of this ongoing relationship.

In addition to bringing a message of greeting and solidarity from the Ecuadorian social movements, Ecuadorian representative Irene Leon made a formal invitation to the three clan families who were present to send a delegation to the global indigenous summit that the Bolivarian movement is planning in June 2016.

At this conference, the presidents of 10 different Latin American nations will be present to meet with representatives of indigenous peoples from across the Americas. The aim is to bring together indigenous peoples movements across the Americas with the ALBA governments to address common problems and to build an international alliance of social movements and indigenous peoples. The conference is set to occur during the course of the summer equinox from June 19-21, 2016 and will be held in Ecuador.

Sunday’s meeting was an indication that the rebuilding of traditional Onkwehon:we ways of governance is alive and well. The meeting was opened with the traditional Thanksgiving address, and the visitors were informed that they were being welcomed on behalf of not only the ancestors, the elders, the men and women, and the children, but also the faces yet to come – the people in whose interests all decisions must be made.

The Ecuadorian delegation and the K^onthyokwanhasta sat on opposite sides of the Longhouse and counseled amongst each other in coming to decisions which were expressed to the other side of the fire by their speakers. Both groups expressed satisfaction that their ongoing relationship was being strengthened by regular contact and discussion together. Regarding the invitation to the International conference in June 2016, the Oneida clan families decided that further discussion was required before making a formal decision about attending the conference. They informed the Ecuadorian delegation that they would return a formal answer to them once they had fully consulted with their people.

The Ecuadorian delegation provided their hosts with gifts including a coffee table photo book which showed pictures of the environmental devastation caused by Chevron and also provided a glimpse into the lives of indigenous peoples in Ecuador and the stunning landscape and natural environment that is their home. Chilean members of the delegation performed a song about the struggles of the Mapuche peoples, and presented the longhouse with a portrait engraved in copper of socialist president Salvador Allende who was murdered in a CIA sponsored coup on September 11, 1973. A flag of the Alliance Pais movement bearing the visage of Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and Che Guevera’s famous saying “Hasta la victoria siempre” (forwards to victory) was also offered to the Longhouse. The gifts were graciously accepted, and the guests were invited to partake in a delicious meal prepared by the hosts.

Once the gathering reconvened after lunch, further business was attended to. Recognizing the efforts of the Ecuadorian government in dealing with transnational corporations acting against the interests of indigenous peoples, the Oneida clan families asked for assistance from the Ecuadorians in understanding and addressing developments on their territory involving large corporations. In particular, the Oneidas asked for help with understanding corporate agreements made without their consent. The Ecuadorian delegation agreed to provide their international expertise in dealing with global corporations, and made a public commitment to follow up with a series of workshops on how transnational corporations operate, and how the Ecuadorian, Venezuelan, and Bolivian governments are working towards an alternative vision for their peoples.

The Ecuadorians asked for a letter of support for their anti-Chevron campaign and the Oneida clan families agreed to write such a letter. The Oneidas in their turn asked for a letter of support from the Ecuadorians that would recognize the relationship that has been built together with the K^onthyokwanhasta over the past six months. The speaker from the Oneida families explained that the traditional clan families are not part of the elected band Council system and are not seeking provincial or federal recognition from the Canadian government. The clan families that make up the K^onthyokwanhasta are the basis of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and they don’t speak for anyone else, only themselves.

Traditional protocol was used to ensure that all parties had expressed what they had come to the meeting to say, and the meeting was concluded with a closing address and the taking of a group photo to commemorate the continued building of a relationship between the peoples of the land of the Condor and the peoples of the land of the Eagle. As in the other gatherings which have defined this newly emerging relationship, there was an air of happiness and very positive energy from all involved in the meeting.

 

For more information about the work of the K^onthyokwanhasta, please contact Jagwadeh at 519-865-6407 or Anthony at 226-234-5342.

 

For more information about the campaign against Chevron and the work being undertaken by Ecuadorian social movements in North America, please visit the website www.antichevron.ca or the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/chevronsdirtyhand please contact Santiago Escobar at 647-920-6446

A New Frontier, But The Same Ol’ Game

Wrong Kind of Green

December 1, 2015

By Forrest Palmer

Congo 2

The Berlin conference was a meeting of the minds regarding European colonization of the African continent at one level, but at a more metaphysical level it was the last salvo fired into the heart of indigenous African humanism and dignity by global white supremacy that was founded in the Western world. Over the subsequent century, the resources drained from Africa have been at the forefront of all relationships between the African continent and its association with any outside power structures residing in other continents. Regarding this aspect of the adversarial relationship of Western colonization and global indigenous resistance, the Berlin conference was the culmination of the Western European world and its relationship with all other exterior lands in the Global South, which was based off economic and cultural domination and plunder. Ultimately, this was the apex of European domination of the Earth itself as it controlled almost every major land mass in the world at this juncture.

The main impetus for the domination of all people in the Global South was entirely due to this voluminous need of resources to fuel the expansions of markets by way of manufactured goods provided to consumers under a capitalist growth model. After World War II however, the old model of colonialism by the nation states of Europe was replaced by the multinational corporate state and the Western banking institutions that used loans and debts as the chains of oppression. So, as before resources were taken by force through expensive colonial governments, troops and the requisite armaments needed to control the local populaces, the new form of neo-colonialism was able to acquire the needed resources through the stroke of a pen, vis a vis economic sanctions, export and import control, currency manipulation, etc.

congo-dr

As the old saying goes though, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Currently, 80% of the raw materials produced in the Global South are consumed in the Global North. This is an imbalance of dramatic proportions and illustrates the reason why the countries in the Western nations have such resource intensive existences while the countries that provide said resources are more times often than not inundated with overwhelming poverty.

Yet, since capitalism must grow forever or die, financial projections state that the economy must be provided with 270 billion tons of raw materials to meet the demands of 9 billion inhabitants across the Earth by mid-century. This is going to be problematic since in 2010, humans were only able to extract 60 billion tons of raw materials for a population of approximately 7 billion. This means that within forty years we are going to have to somehow increase our raw material output across the Earth to two and a half times what we are producing now. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this will be impossible when even the most mainstream organizations are willing to admit that many essential resources are in decline. To quote the great George W. Bush (sarcasm), this all seems like “fuzzy math” to me.

space act1

As desperate times call for desperate measures though, we have now reached the astronomical aspects of a proverbial Hail Mary when it comes to actually reaching this unattainable goal of resource growth that must be in place to both have a stable economy and satiate a growing middle class that expects certain amenities. Recently, the United State Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed the Space Act of 2015, ” which grants U.S. citizens or corporations the right to legally claim non-living natural resources—including water and minerals—mined in the final frontier” . This whole episode just proves that delusion is definitely bipartisan. This legislation is basically saying that space exploration will be the salvation of our resource problem. Not surprisingly, the House is expected to pass the legislation and then undoubtedly signed by President Barry in the White House.

As the Western world has expanded across the globe and ravaged, pillaged and raped the world of all its natural resources, at least at the rate that is necessary to keep pace with its growth in population and economic stability, it is now attempting to gravitate this same destructive mindset to other planetary bodies. So, it begs the question, when will this madness end? Outside of a trip to the moon, sending a few unmanned spacecraft to Mars and recent space probe successfully sent out to Pluto, man hasn’t shown the ability to actually spend a prolonged period of time in outer space, let alone actually drill resources, load them up and bring them back to this planet.

What was once just a trip across the globe to abscond with the necessities of life has now reached the heights of craziness. As this act is the first salvo reminiscent of the aforementioned Berlin conference, the countries are now in the process of actually dividing up the universe and judging by the lack of reciprocity on Earth, we will see nothing but conflict over this.   Although the glaring difference is it could be an actual war over a non-starter since no one will be able to actually get the resources for which we could potentially go to war over, as they are all a world away. As we just learned that the oil companies have been unable to drill for oil in a melting Arctic on the planet in which they reside, what makes any fool believe that man can actually mine for resources on interplanetary bodies?

The late scientist Carl Sagan wrote the following quote:

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

I would suggest that our illustrious leaders read and digest this profound thought because scarcity of resources seems to have been superseded by a scarcity of intelligence in this country. Although I think that we are starting to see that there is one commodity that may actually be infinite on this Earth: the utter stupidity of man.

Happy dreams of space mining…Pipe dreams, that is…

 

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

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