Showing posts sorted by relevance for query oaxaca. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query oaxaca. Sort by date Show all posts

June 6, 2008

Vientos de despojo (Winds of destruction)

¡Basta ya de despojos, basta ya de impunidad, ya no mas muerte!

(No more plunder, no more impunity, no more death!)

"Ejidatarios de La Venta presentaron demandas legales contra la CFE", Juchitan, Oaxaca, a 1º de Febrero del año 2007
Habitantes de La Venta, pertenecientes al Frente de Pueblos del Istmo en Defensa de la Tierra, interpusieron una demanda ante la agencia del Ministerio Publico, contra la Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), organismo al cual acusan de causar daños en sus parcelas por el paso de lineas de transmisión de energía ...

"Carta del Grupo Solidario La Venta a Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen", La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca a 14 de Febrero del 2007
Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Relator Especial de la Oficina en México del Alto Comisionado de las NNUU para los DDHH --
Alejo Girón Carrasco, en mi calidad de Presidente del Grupo Solidario La Venta, vengo por este conducto a expresarle lo siguiente:
Nuestro ejido ubicado en él municipio de Juchitán, Oaxaca, ha venido sufriendo enormes presiones por parte de funcionarios estatales y federales y de empleados de empresas con el fin de que alquilemos nuestras tierras para la ejecución del megaproyecto Eolo eléctrico La Venta II y La Venta III, el primero de los cuales ya se encuentra casi concluido y el segundo esta proyectado para iniciar los próximos meses. Las obras las ha venido realizado la empresa trasnacional de capital español Iberdrola. ...

"Vientos de despojo en La Venta", Silvia Hernández y Sergio de Castro, Noticias de Oaxaca, 4/2007
El pasado 29 de marzo el presidente de México, Felipe Calderón, inauguraba en acto solemne la segunda parte del proyecto eólico La Venta, situado en la región oaxaqueña del Istmo de Tehuantepec. Mientras declaraba que se debían desterrar "problemas como la corrupción, la impunidad, el abuso; problemas como el odio y la violencia entre hermanos", un operativo militar y policial de 2000 efectivos resguardaban las inversiones de las trasnacionales realizadas sobre el despojo de las tierras de los indígenas y campesinos de la región. ...

"Instalaron generadores de energía eólica sobre ruinas arqueológicas", Pedro Matias, 2007-08-22
Autoridades ejidales y asociaciones civiles de La Venta, denunciaron ante el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, el hallazgo de vestigios arqueológicos en la zona donde se instalaron aerogeneradores de energía eolica. ...

Convocatoria encuentro mexicano por la defensa de las tierra y la soberania nacional y por el derecho a la consulta a los pueblos indios, 29/8/2007 [includes English translation]
En estos últimos años, con la imposición de megaproyectos como el Plan Puebla-Panamá se han venido intensificando por todo nuestro país, las acciones de despojo y de violencia en contra de poblaciones indígenas y campesinas. Los grandes programas de inversión en materia energética que viene impulsando el Gobierno federal, están orientados a beneficiar a las empresas trasnacionales, por ello no son tomados en cuenta los derechos de las comunidades afectadas ni los grandes costos ambientales y económicos que se derivan de la ejecución de estos megaproyectos. Además el Gobierno mexicano viene violando acuerdos y tratados internacionales así como legislación nacional ya que en la ejecución de estos programas no han sido ni informadas ni consultadas las comunidades indígenas afectadas. ...

"Contratos ilegales y rentas miserables por las tierras en el proyecto eólico del istmo", Yesika Cruz y Citlalli Méndez, 26 de octubre de 2007
El proyecto de generación de energía eléctrica, que los expertos aseguran es limpio, se ensucia para los campesinos debido a la falta de información y de claridad en los contratos y pagos por la renta de sus tierras. ...

"Hay ruinas arqueológicas bajo el parque eoloeléctrico La Venta II", Octavio Vélez Ascencio (Corresponsal), Oaxaca, Oax., 19 de diciembre
Autoridades ejidales y asociaciones civiles de La Venta, municipio de Juchitán de Zaragoza, dieron a conocer al Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) el hallazgo de vestigios arqueológicos en la zona donde la Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) instaló generadores de energía eólica. ...

Conflictos intersindicales y condiciones de trabajo en el parque eólico “La Venta I y II”, 31/1/2008
En el Istmo de Tehuantepec, estado de Oaxaca, la apertura de los trabajos del mega proyecto del Plan Puebla Panamá, que pretende conectar un inmenso corredor industrial del Puerto de Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, al Puerto de Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz mediante la instalación de grandes maquiladoras, bancos camaroniferos, explotación de mármol, piedras y otros minerales, ampliación de obras de extracción y refinación de crudo, operación de un ferrocarril de alta velocidad que conecte ambos puertos para el traslado de mercancías, etc. Las obras para la construcción del parque eólico “La Venta I, II y III”, de aerogeneración eléctrica, contemplada como una de las principales medidas del mega proyecto, comenzadas desde 1994 a cargo de empresas extranjeras como GAMESA e IBEDROLA, junto Comisión Federal de Electricidad son parte del preámbulo para la privatización de la industria energética nacional. ...

Declaración Oaxaca Libre, Lunes, 14 Abril, 2008
Los pueblos, organizaciones, colectivos y grupos reunidos en la Ciudad de Oaxaca en el foro estatal por la defensa de los derechos de lospueblos de oaxaca, provenientes de todas las regiones de nuestro estado, y contando tambien con la presencia solidaria de observadoresnacionales e internacionales. Declaramos:
• Que en oaxaca gobierna una mafia, que utiliza los recursos publicos en su propio beneficio, que promueve la privatizacion de las tierras, elagua, los recursos forestales y mineros y que utiliza de manera abierta la violencia y la represion para frenar la justa lucha denuestros pueblos.
• Que la miseria, la injusticia y la violencia que sufre el pueblo oaxaqueño es producto de un sistema caciquil protegido por el gobierno federal. En oaxaca vivimos en un estado de excepcion, donde las garantias constitucionales y los derechos humanos son constantemente violados por los mismos gobernantes.
• Que condenamos energicamente el asesinato y la detencion derepresentantes indigenas y del movimiento ciudadano y manifestamos nuestra indignacion y condena por los recientes homicidios de Felicitas Martinez, Teresa Bautista, Placido Lopez Castro, Lauro Juarez y Rosalino Diaz y exigimos el esclarecimiento de estos crimenes y el castigo a los responsables materiales e intelectuales de los mismos.
• Que exigimos el respeto a las tierras y recursos naturales propiedad de nuestros pueblos indigenas, ratificamos nuestro derecho a la consultaante los megaproyectos y demandamos la salida de nuestras tierras de las empresas electricas, mineras, turisticas, forestales trasnacionales.
• Que demandamos el respeto a las radios comunitarias y el cese alhostigamiento que vienen haciendo los caciques priista, los militares y los funcionarios federales. Exigimos sea respetado el derecho de lospueblos indigenas a la libre expresion y a la utilizacion de los mediosde comunicación para hacer la defensa de nuestro patrimonio y de nuestracultura.
• Que con el pretexto del combate al narcotrafico, las dieferentes regiones de nuestro estado han sido militarizadas, lo cual hasignificado la violacion a los derechos humanos de la poblacion indigena. Estos operativos militares provocan miedo y buscan intimidarlos reclamos de nuestras comunidades. Las violaciones a los derechos humanos alcanzan tambien a nuestros hermanos y hermanas centroamericanos que tienen la necesidad de cruzar por nuestro pais.
• Que una debilidad en la lucha de nuestros pueblos, es la falta deorganización y el aislamiento, por ello coincidimos en que es necesario crear una alianza de nuestros pueblos y organizaciones basada en los principios, en la historia y en la costumbre comunitaria de nuestros pueblos; una alianza independiente de todos los partidos politicos, sinburocracia ni lideres, una alianza construida desde abajo donde mujeres y hombres se amos respetados. Una alianza que nos ayude a frenar la represion, que nos permita defender nuestro patrimonio y cultura y quenos ayude a alcanzar la autonomia de nuestros pueblos.

Llamamiento:
• Hacemos un llamado urgente a las organizaciones y grupos, indigenas, decomunicadores, de mujeres, de derechos humanos de oaxaca, mexico y anivel internacional para que el asesinato de nuestras compañeras Teresa Bautista y Felicitas no quede en la impunidad, es por ello que les solicitamos se unan a nuestro reclamo de que sea la fiscalia especializada para la atencion a delitos en contra de periodistas la querealice la investigacion sobre este crimen que nos indigna.
• Acompañar de manera solidariala lucha de resistencia del ayuntamiento autonomo de San Juan Copala, de San Pedro Yosotatu, Chalcatongo, San Juan del Rio y El Pipila seriamente amenazados por el gobierno de Ulises Ruiz y de las bandas de pistoleros que operan en esas regiones con laproteccion del gobierno estatal. Demandamos castigo para los asesinosandres Castro Garcia e Inocente Castro Victoria autores intelectuales del crimen de nuestro compañero placido lopez.
• Impulsar con renovados brios la lucha por la liberacion de nuestros compañeros presos politicos Pedro Castillo Aragon, Flavio Sosa, Miguel Juan Hilaria, Adan Mejia, Miguel Angel Garcia, Victor Hugo Martinez, Roberto Cardenas Rosas, Reynaldo Martinez Ramirez, Constantino Hilario Castro, Homero Castro Lopez, Juliantino Martinez Garcia. Luchar por el cese de la persecucion en contra de nuestros compañeros y por la cancelacion de cientos de ordenes de aprehension que han sido libradas en contra de representantes comunitarios, de la Mixteca, Sierra Juarez, Valles Centrales, La Cuenca y el Istmo de Tehuantepec.
• Manifestamos que los derechos de las mujeres deben de ser respetados, es por ello que exigimos el cese a la violencia de genero, que seades penalizado a nivel nacional el aborto y que la equidad sea una de las demandas centrales del movimiento social.
• Ante la dificil situacion que vive el pueblo oaxaqueño, hacemos un llamado fraterno y respetuoso a los pueblos, colonias, barricadas, organizaciones, sindicatos, grupos de mujeres, organismos nogubernamentales, de jovenes, artistas y intelectuales para reconstruirla asamblea popular de los pueblos de oaxaca bajo los principios que ledieron vida, basados en la autonomia, independencia, comunalidad, el consenso y el respeto. La APPO no debe de ser patrimonio de ningun grupo politico ni su consejo un espacio sectario de lideres. La APPO debere cuperar su carácter de asamblea, donde sea respetada la diversidad, donde sea reconocida la voz y los derechos de las mujeres, donde las decisiones se tomen por consenso y que cuente con un programa de lucha integral que le permita a nuestro pueblo la defensa efectiva de sus derechos. Solo una APPO fortalecida podra enfrentar la barbarie en la que vivimos los oaxaqueños.

Basta ya de despojos, basta ya de impunidad, ya no mas muerte.

Dada en Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, la ciudad de la dignidad y la resistencia el dia que recordamos la muerte de Emiliano Zapata, 10 de abril del 2008

Ayuntamiento Autonomo de San Juan Copala, Comunidad de Yosotatu, UDEPI-Mixteca; Coordinadora de Organizaciones y Pueblos de La Chinantla; Bienes Comunales de Chalcatongo, Organizaciones Indias por los Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca, Radio Huave, Cerec-Tepeuxila, Colectivo Autonomomagonista, UCIZONI, Comunidad de Monte Aguila, Mazatlan, RED de Radios comunitarias y Indigenas del Sureste de Mexico; Comunidad La Esmeralda Chimalapa, Radio Ayuuk, Centro de Derechos Humanos Tepeyac, Ceapi, Tierra Blanca, Chimalapa; Cactus; CODEDI-Xanica, CODECI, Comunidad Desan Pedro Evangelista, Matiias Romero, Comision Magisterial de Derechos Humanos (Seccion 22 del SNTE); UVI, FUNDAR, Radio Arco Iris; Comunidad de San Juan Jaltepec, Ejido El Pipila; Ojo de Agua, Comunicación; Radio Tezoatlan; Asamblea Universitaria UAM-A; MPR; Frente Coordilleranorte-Mixteca; Comunidad de Santa Cruz Mixtepec; Ceuco, Maiz, Asoc. Nacional de Abogados Democraticos; AMAP; Radio Planton; CIMAC; Oaxaca Libre; Centro Social Libertario; Grupo Solidario La Venta, Frente de Pueblos del Istmo en Defensa de la Tierra; CODEP; CODEM; Comité Deliberacion 25 de Noviembre; Radio Bemba; Nodho por Derechos Humanos; Consorcio por la Equidad de Genero; Radio Ke-Huelga

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism

March 19, 2007

Oaxacans oppose taking their land for wind energy

The first bulletin below describes the taking of community farm land in Oaxaca for a giant wind project to benefit the Spanish energy company Iberdrola. Spain will claim the resulting production as a reduction of its own carbon dioxide emissions. The second bulletin describes the wider situation of harassment and violence, under cover of which the industrial wind energy projects are being pushed. A 3 March news report of this opposition as well as the serious threat to migrating birds is available at wind-watch.org.

UCIZONI -- La Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus) -- is a group of 84 communities and neighborhoods in 9 counties of the state of Oaxaca in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Ejidatarios are the people who communally farm ejidos, former private lands that are now owned by the federal government. The original Spanish versions of these bulletins are available at iberica2000.org.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 8 -- 28 February 2007

The execution of the wind energy project La Venta II, that has begun in La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, has meant a true plundering of the land for the ejidatarios of that region. Although the Mexican Government was required to inform and to consult the population affected by massive investment projects, until now it has refused this right to the ejidatarios and indigenous neighbors.

For more than two years the farmers faced harassment and deceptive offers. Nevertheless, the resistance of the community was broken down when ministerial police threatened to jail the Ejidos Committee President Rafael Solorzano Ordaz, to whom they dishonestly imputed responsibility in several crimes, forcing him to resign his position. They then installed in his place PRI [Partido Revolucionario Institucional (the party that dominated Mexico through most of the 20th century)] member Carlos Antonio Ordaz.

With the intervention of the Commissariat and base threats and lies, dozens of ejidatarios have signed predatory rental contracts that favor the Federal Commission of Electricity [CFE]. These contracts, which were signed before a Notary Public but copies of which have not been delivered to the ejidatarios, are a true plundering: they cover a period of 30 years and commit the farmers to surrender their land for an average annual payment of 12,500 pesos [850 euros or 1,100 dollars] per hectare [2.5 acres] where an aerogenerator tower is erected.

Nevertheless, in spite of the pressures and deceits, the contracted land comprises only 40% of that originally required by the project that has gone forward with an investment of more than 110 million dollars from the transnational Iberdrola. Dozens of ejidatarios have resisted and as yet have not rented their land.

On the other hand, in an illegal assembly last year, which was plagued by irregularities and to which corrupt employees of the Agrarian Attorney's office made sure only a minimum number of ejidatarios attended -- the Ejidos Commission ceded common lands for the CFE to use as operation bases.

This cession was not approved by most of the ejidatarios and caused a large group of farmers on 3 April 2006 to occupy one estate, demanding the return of five hectares [12 acres] that were given to the CFE and payment for the damages caused by the clearings already done in the area.

Before this mobilization, the CFE promoted criminal action against the ejidatarios of La Venta by agents of the Federal Public Ministry of Matías Romero and of Mexico City for the supposed crime of impeding the execution of public works.

By unofficial means we have learned that a federal judge of Mexico City has decided to pursue criminal action against the uncooperative ejidatarios and is preparing at this moment an operation of the Federal Preventative Police to evict the ejidatarios who have formed the "3 April Colony" on the estate that the CFE had tried to take over illegally.

With this serious situation, we make an urgent call to national, state, and international organizations to offer necessary solidarity to the ejidatarios of La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, and we demand the Interior Secretary to halt the repressive operation against the indigenous farmers who face the massive plundering already seen from the CFE to benefit transnational companies.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 7 -- 27 February 2007

Ramiro Roque Figueroa, UCIZONI representative in the community of Niza Conejo, El Barrio de la Soledad, was stopped with excessive violence by elements of the ministerial police on 22 February, accused of aggravated assault of a city council employee. At the time of his arrest, the police tried to plant a weapon on him and they indicated to him that his detention was the result of his participation in the mobilizations organized by the APPO [Assemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca].

The head of the Lower Court based in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, judge Modesto Isaías Santiago Martinez, acting in complicity with the PRI authorities of the municipality of Barrio de la Soledad, had issued an arrest warrant against Ramiro Roque in Penal Docket 21/2007, imputing his responsibility in a crime he did not commit.

In the afternoon of 24 February, ministerial police assigned to the Deputy Attorney General in Tehuantepec appeared in an aggressive way at the address of Moisés Trujillo Ruiz, leader of UCIZONI in La Ventosa, Juchitán, who they tried to detain in an act of continuing intimidation as promoted by Porfirio Montero, the old cacique of the place, who arranged a meeting at the end of the last year between evangelical leaders and Ulises Ruiz [the PRI governor of Oaxaca whose violent police action in June 2006 against the annual Oaxacan teachers strike created the APPO and its actions referred to above], where the governor indicated publicly that he was keeping his job by divine will.

To these repressive acts that are part of the intimidation campaign by the police corps of the state of Oaxaca, add the military operations through all of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where even red berets from the Army's GAFE [elite U.S.-trained airborne special forces groups] have participated: thus at enormous cost they have been unconstitutionally arresting anyone they consider suspicious.

UCIZONI mobilized the next week in Matías Romero and Tehuantepec to demand an end to harassment and the dismissal of judge Modesto Isaías Santiago as well as of deputy attorney general María del Carmen Chiñas.

Also, a large contingent of UCIZONI women participated in the 8 March demonstration called by APPO, where they demanded freedom for the political prisoners, the end of violence against women, and the dismissal of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the person directly responsible for the climate of violence and confrontation that is life in Oaxaca.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights

August 15, 2008

Indigenous farmers in Oaxaca duped out of land by wind companies

Karen Trejo writes in Latinamerica Press, August 14 (also published at National Wind Watch):

A wind power project on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southeastern Mexico has stripped massive amounts of land and natural resources from hundreds of indigenous campesinos in Oaxaca. Those affected are mostly from non-Spanish speaking indigenous communities.

Members were manipulated into giving up their lands in up to 60-year tenancy contracts through misinformation.

Faustina López Martínez, originally from the village of Juchitán, complained that the companies promised agriculture aid without ever following through. On the lands where she used to plant corn to sell, the Spanish company Union FENOSA plans to install windmills to generate wind energy for the next 30 years, and possibly extending to double the term. In exchange, López will receive 150 pesos (less than US$15) each year for the rent of each of her 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of land.

Javier Balderas, director of the Tepeyac Human Rights Center located in Tehuantepec, signaled that the project to build wind parks on the Isthmus, which has been imposed on the native peoples by displacing them from their lands, is part of the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) strategy — an ambitious integration and development project launched in 2001 whose objective is to link nine Mexican states to Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua y Panama.

Indigenous rights violated

According to Balderas, the Mexican government violates International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples by denying them the right to consultation to determine whether they will be jeopardized before pursuing any program to exploit their lands’ resources. The state further impedes their right to participate in utilizing, administrating and conserving their natural resources.

Based on these arguments, a team of lawyers from human rights organizations in Oaxaca and Mexico City have filed a lawsuit to annul at least 185 tenancy contracts for the wind park construction by transnational companies, principally from Spain, including Iberdrola, Endesa, Preneal, Gamesa and Union FENOSA.

In response, the companies say that they operate in Mexico backed by an agreement signed by the Federal Electricity Commission, which is directed at encouraging development through large capital investment in the region to generate jobs.

However, Eduardo Zenteno, president of the Mexican Wind Energy Association, presents figures that seem to contradict this statement.

“In the next three years, the companies will invest $3 billion in Oaxaca in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec Wind Tunnel in the following way: 78 percent will be invested in purchasing wind turbines, 14 percent in the electrical system, 6 percent in civil work and 2 percent in other spending.” He added that the electrical energy produced will be sold to companies with chain stores like Wal-Mart and Soriana, Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola and Cemex.

Transnationals were attracted to the isthmus since it is a geographically strategic area for wind park construction. According to the Atlas for Wind Resources in Oaxaca, an investigation sponsored in 2004 by the US Energy Department and the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, the best areas to develop wind resources in Oaxaca are on the Isthmus and the greatest resources are in the hills, cordillera and coast.

The La Venta Wind Park II was constructed in 2003 on one of the hills, named La Venta, in the Juchitán area and is currently the biggest wind park in the region with over 98 windmills installed over 800 hectares (nearly 2,000 acres). La Venta is a rural indigenous community that lacks basic services where the state government periodically sends doctors and lawyers to attend the community.

Balderas explained that this is clear evidence that the transnational business model is not encouraging development or bringing about jobs for the Isthmus communities. Furthermore, during the three-month long construction of La Venta II, only 200 local workers were hired, which dwindled down to three hires at present: two janitors and one secretary.

Communal lands are not to be rented

Unlike what happened in La Venta, where there are no agrarian authorities to watch over communal lands, in the Santiago Niltepec community, east of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the fear of losing lands has prevented campesinos from leasing their lands to Union FENOSA.

José Santiago Ramírez, secretary of the Santiago Niltepec Community Goods Commission, says the Spanish transnational offered 30-year contracts and 1,000 to 1,200 pesos — $98 to $117 — per hectare (2.5 acres) to the campesinos annually to rent their lands. But no company can have a contract directly with the landowner since 95 percent of the population’s lands is communal.

For Marco Antonio Velásquez, the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade technical secretary, the Isthmus case is not the only one. In Acapulco, Jalisco and Nayarit there has also been social resistance to damn construction which would result in thousands of displaced persons.

“It’s not just a few companies who maliciously want to strip the communities [of their lands]. It’s a policy that has been deliberately applied with the help of the municipal, state, and federal governments that has usurped power with the clear intention of protecting transnational corporations to move forward with their businesses,” he said.

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, human rights

March 28, 2007

Against the Giants in Oaxaca

Al Giordano wrote in the Feb. 9, 2006, Narco News:

This is not about windmills, Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos thundered on Monday morning across this windswept plain. "It is about giants."

The greedy grab for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec -- the narrowest stretch of land in Mexico -- is a mega-project by Capital and State that does not stop at windmills. It also includes new highways and oil pipelines connecting the ports on both oceans, an expanded hydroelectric dam in Jalapa del Marques along the way, tourist Meccas to replace small fishing communities between Salina Cruz and Huatulco and a new zone for maquiladoras -- those cheap-labor mills that generate power not from wind but from human muscle and bone along the US-Mexican border -- that will exploit the poverty of the workers that the mega-developments displace from their lands and the natural resources they cultivate.

And so it is to this breezy plain that Zapatista "Delegate Zero" came on Monday morning to harness the wind that only human hands, and not machines, can tap: that of rebellion. "You are not alone," he told yet more communities of fighting (read: still human) people throughout the Isthmus. In La Venta's town square he said, "We will fight with you against these windmills."

Nancy Davies wrote on Mar. 28:

... here's the article I've been predicting: "Teachers and APPO and communal land owners announce the boycott of Venta II," accompanied in action by other organizations including The Front of the People of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land. President Felipe Calderon and Governor Ulises Ruiz are inaugurating the construction of the new wind farm to generate electricity, owned by a Spanish transnational, on Wednesday March 28 (see the video newsreel, The Windmills of Capitalism). About two hundred hectares of communal land and about nine sub-municipalities of Juchitán are in dispute. The wind farm is seen as a basic part of the development of the Plan Puebla Panama, and infringes on the autonomy of the indigenous residents of the area. The area is protected, according to Noticias, by a circle of military soldiers.

Ninety-eight wind generators already operate with a supposed capacity of 83.3 megawatts. In the second stage the transnational company, Iberdrola, has invested $100 million. The World Bank has recently loaned $20 million for the development of La Venta III, which confirms that regardless of who's protesting, the project will go ahead.

On March 3 three-hundred-and-sixty men from the Federal Preventative Police, traveling in vehicles with dark windows and carrying high power weapons, evicted the communal land owners from the neighborhood Tres de Abril located within the polygon of Venta II, because they were an "obstacle to the project." Many believe that the outcry against the wind generators has more to do with the offensively low rental and a voice for the people whose land has been "rented" for thirty years. The rental was reportedly carried out by agents who ignored the community assembly process and were in turn allegedly paid off handsomely by the government and/or Iberdrola.

And George Salzman wrote on Mar. 25:

"Harvard contributes to reconstructing Oaxaca" is the grand headline splashed across the Sunday, March 25, 2007 front page of Noticias, the major daily newspaper published in Oaxaca City. When I saw that announcement this morning I thought, "Oh, my God! (Never mind that I'm an atheist.) That's both good news and bad news."

The good news is that the popular struggle in Oaxaca is serious enough that it is being seen by those pre-eminent intellectual guardians of global capitalism as a potential threat to the status quo. The bad news is that Harvard University, always in the service of the super-rich, and therefore in step with (or ahead of) U.S. government plans and actions, is preparing to put its gloved but dirtied hands to work for the PAN/PRI government of Felipe Calderon and the local PRI governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The message is clear. It's going to take more than sheer military suppression to crush the popular revolution. But it must be crushed, in the interest of global capitalism, and therefore the 'intellectual power' of Harvard University will be brought to bear in addition to the military state of siege already put in place in the city. What we can be certain of is that Harvard's intellectual prowess will not be used to uncover the fates of the people disappeared and still unaccounted for by the Federal and State armed agents or to assist in the struggle for justice and dignity for the people of Oaxaca.

Also see the press releases posted here from the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights

December 28, 2008

La nueva Conquista: Parques eólicos en Oaxaca

En el mes de noviembre de 2008 se llevo a cabo el Encuentro Voces y resistencias para comentar las diversas problemáticas que atraviesan los pueblos de Oaxaca por los proyectos neoliberales y capitalistas que se imponen sin consentimiento en la zona. El encuentro tuvo cita en Juchitan Oaxaca cabecera municipal de esta región donde el aire atrajo no un proyecto ambiental como podría pensarse de la energía eolica, sino de la ambición mezquina de interés capitalistas (como la familia del fallecido Secretario de Gobernación Camilo Murino.

Estas empresas en su mayoría europeas están aprovechándose de la pésima situación en que viven los campesinos debido a las malas políticas de los gobernantes, para vender o rentar su tierra por poco dinero y rompiendo así el tejido social comunitario, debido a la migración y la desigualdad económica.

La forma en que se han llevado a cabo esta nueva conquista ocupa la mentira y el engaño hacia los ejidatarios y campesinos. Los beneficios de la tecnología ocupada no es para el goce colectivo sino de unos cuantos.

Cuando pasó el recorrido de la Otra Campaña, eran menos de 10 transformadores eolicos introducidos por la Comisión Federal de Electricidad, dos anos mas tarde son cientos de transformadores cerca de centros poblacionales, así como zonas agrícolas y de pastizal.

Pero los problemas no paran ahí, por todo Oaxaca, así como en todo el país, la política del gobierno es un diseño de la política global neoliberal, que quiere despojar a los campesinos de su tierra y convertirlos en los miserables de las ciudades. No comprende ni admite las formas y tradiciones democráticas de las comunidades indígenas, no busca el beneficio.

Lunes 29 de diciembre de 2008

March 3, 2007

Transnationals vs. birds and farmers in Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec

From Tierramérica (click on the title of this post), via National Wind Watch:

The Mexican government is preparing a big wind energy project, but peasant farmers and bird experts aren't too happy about it.

The government's aim is for wind-generated electricity -- which now accounts for just 0.005 percent of the energy generated in Mexico -- to reach six percent by 2030. ...

Achieving that goal involves setting up more than 3,000 turbines in Mexico's windiest zone, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the southern state of Oaxaca ...

But erecting the windmills, tall towers with a 27-metre blade span, requires negotiating with landowners, most of whom are farmers. Some have complained that they were taken advantage of when the first wind farm was created in 1994.

Meanwhile, ornithologists experts warn that many bird species are at risk of being killed by the giant blades, which could cause an environmental chain reaction across the continent, because various birds are migratory.

"Everything is bent towards facilitating the wind farms, but there is not much interest in the birds, which in the long term could bring much broader problems," Raúl Ortiz-Pulido, spokesman for the Mexican office of Birdlife International, told Tierramérica. ...

In the environmental standards for wind farms now being debated, the officials propose eliminating the environmental impact studies that other projects require. This requirement would be replaced by a "preventive report", which is of a lower category and reduced scope.

In the introduction of the new norm, which by law must be open for public discussion for 60 days (with the deadline being the end of February), it is recognised that wind turbines can have "impacts on avian fauna".

It states that the head of the project [emphasis added] should make an "inventory of species that utilise the area, detailing their relationships to determine the repercussion of the displacement of some of them, mating seasons, nesting and raising of young."

But some scientists say it would not be enough for the isthmus area. Six million birds fly through Tehuantepec each year, including 32 endangered species and nine autochthonous species. ...

In La Venta, part of the Juchitán municipality in Oaxaca state, is where most of the official plans for wind turbines are concentrated. The impoverished region is home to 150,000 people, most working in farming and livestock.

There the farmers are also upset with the official plans.

"The landowners were fooled with fixed arrangements, ridiculous payments for rent for installing the turbines and impediments to farming. We won't allow any more plans to be carried out," Alejo Girón, leader of La Venta Solidarity Group, told Tierramérica.

The first wind project, La Venta I, began operating in 1994, and in the past two years continued with La Venta II. Now the government of Felipe Calderón has announced that it will open bidding for La Venta III, and others will follow, like the Oaxaca and La Ventosa projects.

They are projects in which transnational corporations like Spain's Iberdrola and France's Electricité have shown great interest, as have local firms like Cemex cement company, which are considering wind turbines for their own energy needs, and in some cases sell their surplus to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

Finalising these plans means convincing the landowners, to whom CFE pays for each one of the 100 turbines already installed in La Venta less than 300 dollars a year, which is 10 to 20 times less than what their counterparts in other countries receive, says Girón.

"The wind projects created almost no new jobs and they don't benefit the residents. Here nothing changed. We remain poor despite the fact that the CFE promised that this would change," Feliciano Santiago, municipal secretary of Juchitán, told Tierramérica.

[For those with Spanish, read two recent press releases from UCIZONI (La Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo) about their struggle, posted at Ibérica 2000. Update: now in English!]

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights

April 7, 2016

Changing Everything

Steven Gorelick writes at Counterpunch:

Among climate change activists, solutions usually center on a transition to renewable energy. There may be differences over whether this would be best accomplished by a carbon tax, bigger subsidies for wind and solar power, divestment from fossil fuel companies, massive demonstrations, legislative fiat or some other strategy, but the goal is generally the same: replace dirty fossil fuels with clean renewable energy. Such a transition is often given a significance that goes well beyond its immediate impact on greenhouse gas emissions: it would somehow make our exploitative relationship to Nature more environmentally sound, our relationship to each other more socially equitable. In part this is because the fossil fuel corporations – symbolized by the remorseless Koch brothers – will be a relic of the past, replaced by ‘green’ corporations and entrepreneurs that display none of their predecessors’ ruthlessness and greed.

Maybe, but I have my doubts. Here in Vermont, for example, a renewable energy conference last year was titled, “Creating Prosperity and Opportunity Confronting Climate Change”. The event attracted venture capitalists, asset management companies, lawyers that represent renewable energy developers, and even a “brandthropologist” offering advice on “how to evolve Brand Vermont” in light of the climate crisis. The keynote speaker was Jigar Shah, author of Creating Climate Wealth, who pumped up the assembled crowd by telling them that switching to renewables “represents the largest wealth creation opportunity of our generation.” He added that government has a role in making that opportunity real: “policies that incentivize resource efficiency can mean scalable profits for businesses.” If Shah is correct, the profit motive – in less polite company it might be called ‘greed’ – will still be around in a renewable energy future.

But at least the renewable energy corporations will be far more socially responsible than their fossil fuel predecessors. Not if you ask the Zapotec communities in Mexico’s Oaxaca state, who will tell you that a renewable energy corporation can be just as ruthless as a fossil fuel one. Oaxaca is already home to 21 wind projects and 1,600 massive turbines, with more planned. While the indigenous population must live with the wind turbines on their communal lands, the electricity goes to distant urban areas and industries. Local people say they have been intimidated and deceived by the wind corporations: according to one indigenous leader, “They threaten us, they insult us, they spy on us, they block our roads. We don’t want any more wind turbines.” People have filed grievances with the government (which has actively promoted the wind projects) and have physically blocked access to development sites.

It seems that a transition to renewable energy might not be as transformative as some people hope. Or to put it more bluntly, renewable energy changes nothing about corporate capitalism.

Which brings me to the new film, This Changes Everything, based on Naomi Klein’s best-selling book and directed by her husband, Avi Lewis. I saw the film recently at a screening hosted by local climate activists and renewable energy developers, and was at first hopeful that the film would go even further than the book in, as Klein puts it, “connecting the dots between the carbon in the air and the economic system that put it there.”

But by film’s end one is left with the impression that a transition from fossil fuels to renewables is pretty much all that’s needed – not only to address climate change but to transform the economy and solve all the other problems we face. As the camera tracks skyward to reveal banks of solar panels in China or soars above 450-foot tall wind turbines in Germany, the message seems to be that fully committing to these technologies will change everything. This is surprising, since Klein’s book flatly contradicts this way of thinking:

“Over the past decade,” she wrote, “many boosters of green capitalism have tried to gloss over the clashes between market logic and ecological limits by touting the wonders of green tech…. They paint a picture of a world that can function pretty much as it does now, but in which our power will come from renewable energy and all of our various gadgets and vehicles will become so much more energy-efficient that we can consume away without worrying about the impact.” Instead, she says, we need “consume less, right away. [But] Policies based on encouraging people to consume less are far more difficult for our current political class to embrace than policies that are about encouraging people to consume green. Consuming green just means substituting one power source for another, or one model of consumer goods for a more efficient one. The reason we have placed all of our eggs in the green tech and green efficiency basket is precisely because these changes are safely within market logic.”

Overall, Klein’s book is far better at “connecting the dots” than the film. The book explains how free trade treaties have led to a huge spike in emissions, and Klein argues that these agreements need to be renegotiated in ways that will curb both emissions and corporate power. Among other things, she says, “long-haul transport will need to be rationed, reserved for those cases where goods cannot be produced locally.” She explicitly calls for “sensible relocalization” of the economy, as well as reduced consumption and “managed degrowth” in the rich countries of the North – notions likely to curdle the blood of capitalists everywhere. She endorses government incentives for local and seasonal food, as well as land management policies that discourage sprawl and encourage low-energy, local forms of agriculture.

I don’t buy everything about Klein’s arguments: they rest heavily on unquestioned assumptions about the course of ‘development’ in the global South, and focus too much on scaling up government and not enough on scaling down business. The “everything” that will change sometimes seems limited to the ideological pendulum: after decades of pointing towards the neoliberal, free-market right, she believes it must swing back to the left because climate change demands a huge expansion of government planning and support.

Nonetheless, many of the specific steps outlined in the book do have the potential to shift our economic system in important ways. Those steps, however, are given no space at all in the film. The focus is almost entirely on transitioning to renewables, which turns the film into what is essentially an informercial for industrial wind and solar.

The film starts well, debunking the notion that climate change is a product of human nature – of our innate greed and short-sightedness. Instead, Klein says, the problem lies in a “story” we’ve told ourselves for the past 400 years: that Nature is ours to tame, conquer, and extract riches from. In that way, Klein says, “Mother Nature became the mother lode.”

After a gut-wrenching segment on the environmental disaster known as the Alberta tar sands, the film centers on examples of “Blockadia” – a term coined by activists to describe local direct action against extractive industries. There is the Cree community in Alberta fighting the expansion of tar sands development; villagers in India blocking construction of a coal-fired power plant that would eliminate traditional fishing livelihoods; a community on Greece’s Halkidiki Peninsula battling their government and the police to stop an open pit gold mine that would destroy a cherished mountain; and a small-scale goat farmer in Montana joining hands with the local Cheyenne community to oppose a bevy of fossil fuel projects, including a tar sands pipeline, a shale oil project, and a new coal mine.

Klein implies that climate change underlies and connects these geographically diverse protests. But that’s partly an artifact of the examples Klein chose, and partly a misreading of the protestors’ motives: what has really driven these communities to resist is not climate change, but a deeply-felt desire to maintain their traditional way of life and to protect land that is sacred to them. A woman in Halkidiki expresses it this way: “we are one with this mountain; we won’t survive without it.” At its heart, the threat that all of these communities face doesn’t stem from fossil fuels, but from a voracious economic system that will sacrifice them and the land they cherish for the sake of profit and growth.

The choice of Halkidiki as an example actually undermines Klein’s construct, since the proposed mine has nothing directly to do with fossil fuels. It does, however, have everything to do with a global economy that runs on growth, corporate profit, and – as Greece knows only too well – debt. So it is with all the other examples in the film.

Klein’s narrative would have been derailed if she profiled the indigenous Zapotec communities of Oaxaca as a Blockadia example: they fit the bill in every respect other than the fact that it’s renewable energy corporations, not fossil fuel corporations, they are trying to block. Similarly, Klein’s argument would have suffered if she visited villagers in India who are threatened not by a coal-fired power plant, but by one of India’s regulation-free corporate enclaves known as “special economic zones”. These, too, have sparked protests and police violence against villagers: in Nandigram in West Bengal, 14 villagers were killed trying to keep their way of life from being eliminated, their lands turned into another outpost of an expanding global economy.

And while the tar sands region is undeniably an ecological disaster, it bears many similarities to the huge toxic lake on what was once pastureland in Baotou, on the edge of China’s Gobi Desert. The area is the source of nearly two-thirds of the world’s rare earth metals – used in almost every high-tech gadget (as well as in the magnets needed for electric cars and industrial wind turbines). The mine tailings and effluent from the many factories processing these metals have created an environmental disaster of truly monumental proportions: the BBC describes it as “the worst place on earth”. A significant shrinking of global consumer demand would help reduce Baotou’s toxic lake, but it’s hard to see how a shift to renewable energy would.

Too often, climate change has been used as a Trojan horse to enable corporate interests to despoil local environments or override the concerns of local communities. Klein acknowledges this in her book: by viewing climate change only on a global scale, she writes, we end up ignoring “people with attachments to particular pieces of land with very different ideas about what constitutes a ‘solution’. This chronic forgetfulness is the thread that unites so many fateful policy errors of recent years … [including] when policymakers ram through industrial-scale wind farms and sprawling… solar arrays without local participation or consent.” But this warning is conspicuously absent from the film.

Klein’s premise is that climate change is the one issue that can unite people globally for economic change, but there’s a more strategic way to look at it. What we face is not only a climate crisis but literally hundreds of potentially devastating crises: there’s the widening gap between rich and poor, islands of plastic in the oceans, depleted topsoil and groundwater, a rise in fundamentalism and terror, growing piles of toxic and nuclear waste, the gutting of local communities and economies, the erosion of democracy, the epidemic of depression, and many more. Few of these can be easily linked to climate change, but all of them can be traced back to the global economy.

This point is made by Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of Local Futures, who explains how a scaling-down of the corporate-led global economy and a strengthening of diverse, localized economies would simultaneously address all of the most serious problems we face – including climate change. For this reason, what Norberg-Hodge calls ‘big picture activism’ has the potential to unite climate change activists, small farmers, peace advocates, environmentalists, social justice groups, labor unions, indigenous rights activists, main street business owners, and many more under a single banner. If all these groups connect the dots to see the corporate-led economy as a root cause of the problems they face, it could give rise to a global movement powerful enough to halt the corporate juggernaut.

And that really could change everything.

Also see: : Oaxaca on this blog, and “Exploitation and destruction: some things to know about industrial wind power

November 14, 2007

Struggle for land rights in India and Mexico

National Wind Watch has posted recent detailed updates about the struggle of the Zapotecas in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Adivasis in Gujarat, India, against abuses by giant wind companies (Spain's Iberdrola in Mexico and Suzlon in India), aided by the government and police, taking land for industrial wind energy facilities.

Grassroots Resistance: Contesting Wind Mill Construction in Oaxaca, by Sylvia Sanchez (originally published by Znet)

Unclean Intrigues Behind Clean Energy: Dhule Adivasis’ Glorious Struggle for Land Rights, by a fact-finding team led by Anand Teltumbde (originally published at struggle-for-land-rights.blogspot.com)

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism

April 18, 2013

Wind industry wants to silence inquiry

Editor of the Reformer:

Charlene Ellis and Fred Taylor (letter, April 6) write that "Only with a concerned effort by all of us to formulate renewable energy policies based on science, rather than propaganda, will be able to protect the Vermont landscape we cherish." Yet they ignore that call and only defend their smearing of those fighting to protect Vermont's ridgelines from energy development with smearing them some more.

Despite their call for science, they simply ignore the possibility, let alone the clear evidence, that giant wind turbines erected on sensitive ridgelines do more harm than good. Instead, they accuse anyone who questions such industrial development as dupes of fossil fuel, as if the biggest wind developer in the U.S. isn't coal giant Florida Power and Light (aka Nextera), as if the biggest turbine manufacturer isn't nuclear and gas plant (and military weaponry) giant General Electric, as if Enron and George W. Bush weren't the ones who more than anyone created the modern U.S. wind industry.

Science rather than propaganda seems to be precisely what Ellis and Taylor do not want, as they cite only pro-wind hype and demonize all who disagree with them. One is reminded of Joseph McCarthy more than Rachel Carson, of an enthusiasm for censorship and slander more than honest discussion.

Their need to explain it as an "ultra-conservative" plot hatched last year in Washington also apparently prevents them from learning much about their neighbors fighting big wind in Vermont, particularly that the fight goes back more than 10 years, from the seeds planted with the erection of 11 Zond turbines (bought by Enron the next year, then by GE in 2002) in Searsburg in 1996. The statewide advocacy group Energize Vermont arose from the fight to protect the ridges west of Rutland which began at least 5 years ago. They build on the work of the Kingdom Commons Group, the Glebe Mountain Group, Ridge Protectors, and many others that have brought Vermonters of every political leaning together in common cause. And there are countless other such groups around the world, from Oaxaca (where Reporters Without Borders last week condemned international companies and the state for the harassment, arrests, and physical abuse of journalists covering wind energy development on Zapoteca land) to Denmark (where virtually no new onshore wind capacity has been added since 2002), New Zealand to Germany, India to Ireland.

The fight to protect our landscapes from poorly considered, profit-driven, big energy development that does such clear harm to the environment, to human and other animal habitats, has always represented — and does so still — a concerted effort by informed citizens to use science guided by the heart rather than profit or tribal dogma.

The provision of S.30 that most scared industry was for greater involvement of host and affected neighboring communities in the permitting process. Informed citizens thinking for themselves seem to be exactly what they don't want, or more cynically, can't afford.
wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont

August 15, 2012

Ridden by the Wind

The story of industrial-scale wind energy, that is, large wind turbines connected to supply the electric grid, is the same old tale of exploitative industry, of predatory capitalism, of consumerism run riot over the concerns of nature and humanity.

Wind energy does not represent change from a consumption-driven quest of continuing dividends for the investor class. It is a change of brand, nothing more. The same people behind digging up the tar sands of Alberta, drilling in the Arctic, blasting off mountaintops for coal, fracking the ground beneath our feet for methane, mowing down the rain forests, are industrializing rural and wild landscapes with the sprawling tax shelters called wind “farms”.

Like American politics, where choice is limited to which waiter you prefer to serve you from the same Wall Street kitchen (as Huey Long described it), energy policy around the world is “all-of-the-above” with politicians pretending to position themselves against one or another source to flatter different diners. Wind energy operates entirely within that game. As the realities of large-scale wind development — the decimation of habitat, birds, bats, health of human neighbors, and more — have made it harder to sell as “green”, the industry lobby group American Wind Energy Association has strategized: “We need to create a space for the wind energy industry without defining it as an alternative to fossil fuels and coal and that goes beyond being one of many ‘renewables’” (Leadership Council and Board of Directors Meeting, Carlsbad, Calif., Nov. 2, 2011). The reality is that a consumption-based economy dependent on continued “growth” doesn't need alternatives, only more choices: all of the above, whether it works or not. And that imperative excuses all.

As Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe said on June 4, 2012, at the AWEA’s annual convention in Atlanta, “Anyone standing in the way of this industry, frankly, they’re un-American.”

Because there are “important” people making a lot of money in wind, and the opening up of previously undeveloped land will enrich them well beyond wind.

Enron invented the modern wind industry by buying the support of environmental groups for large-scale “alternative” energy and all that makes it profitable: tax avoidance schemes, public grants and loan guarantees, artificial markets for “green credits”, and laws requiring its purchase. Texas Governor George W. Bush was instrumental in getting the first of these implemented at the national level on behalf of his friend Ken Lay, Enron's CEO. Texas is the USA’s leader in wind energy development, not because of some environmentalist vision, but because of the opposite: Wind energy is just one more extractive industry, and with the collaboration of Enron's environmentalists it opens up land normally off limits to such development.

The twisted rationalizations of former environmentalists to excuse the obvious adverse impacts of industrial development in the form of wind “farms” are a study in madness, akin to the military “logic” of having to destroy a village to save it. The typical refrain from the likes of the Audubon Society or Sierra Club — when they acknowledge adverse impacts at all — is that wind energy, by its theoretical and never documented reduction of carbon emissions from other electricity sources, saves more birds etc than it kills. They cling to this even as only the latter is increasingly documented and the former is increasingly clearly not. They further flaunt their moral bankruptcy by dismissing the adverse effects as a drop in the bucket compared to all the other killers of birds etc. And they join the reactionary chorus of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in presenting their plea to shovel more public money to big energy investors as one for (“American”) jobs (at any [public] cost).

At the same time, neighbors of giant wind turbines who suffer adverse health effects are derided as hysterical or mendacious. The unsurprising acoustic effects of jumbo-jet-size turbine blades cutting through vertical air spaces of almost 2 acres are simply denied. Wind's apologists reverse cause and effect and blame the victims for publicizing noise problems even as ever larger blades are increasingly documented to generate intrusive throbbing and low-frequency noise, both of which not only disturb sleep and raise stress but are increasingly tied to direct adverse physiological and psychological effects. Yet the industry fights all efforts to set even inadequate minimum distances between turbines and homes or noise limits. The CEO of Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, Ditlev Engel, wrote to the Danish Environment Minister on June 29, 2011, against such limits: “At this point you may have asked yourself why it is that Vestas does not just make changes to the wind turbines so that they produce less noise? The simple answer is that at the moment it is not technically possible to do so.” Especially because, as he goes on to note, they are planning even larger machines.

And if human neighbors are treated with such naked contempt in the mad logic of corporate profit growth, pity the wildlife whose last refuges are invaded, divided, and destroyed by big wind (and now big solar as well) — all with the blessing of many environmental groups.

Invaded, divided, and destroyed — nineteenth-century colonialism and twentieth-century globalism are now openly revived against our own communities. Just as the Spanish company Iberdrola steals farmland from the Zapotecas of Oaxaca, and the Indian company Suzlon steals forest from the Adivasis, wind developers in more “developed” countries — in Europe, North America, Australia — prey on their rural populations, pitting paid-off landowners against their neighbors, leaving bitterness and discord, a blighted landscape, shattered peace and quiet, an industrial waste land from which the limited liability companies extract what profit they can and then move on to the next marks.

Industrial wind development may not be the worst scourge on the planet, but that does not excuse it. Big wind is not separate from the rest of exploitative and extractive industry. It is not separate from the persistent efforts of the investor class to hoard for themselves more of the public wealth. It is, however, particularly evil because it presents itself as the opposite of what it is. It is not even an alternative evil: To add insult to injury, wind is not even a good way to generate electricity for the grid: Since it does not blow according to customer demand, it still has to be 100% backed up by other sources.

Break the spell! End the charade!

See the swindle for what it is. Big wind is an enemy of the planet, its animal and plant life, its people. It is a new brand in an old game whose rules were written to ensure one winner only, and it isn't you.

—Eric Rosenbloom

wind power, wind energy, wind turbines, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

June 17, 2009

Wind is 'dirty business' for farmers in Mexico

(As it is everywhere.)

By Chris Hawley, USA Today, 17 June 2009:

The windmills stand in rows like an army of Goliaths, steel towers taller than the Statue of Liberty and topped with blades as long as a jetliner’s wing. The blades whoosh through the humid air, carving energy from a wind that rushes across Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec on its journey from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Nearly every day, another tower rises out of the countryside. ...

But the energy gold rush has also brought discord, as building crews slice through irrigation canals, divide pastures and cover crops with dust. Some farmers complain they were tricked into renting their land for as little as $46 an acre annually.

Opponents of Mexican President Felipe Calderón fear the generators are the first step toward privatizing Mexico’s energy sector. And some residents are angry that the electricity being generated is not going to homes here in Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico, but to power Walmart stores, Cemex cement plants and a few other industrial customers in Mexico.

“It has divided neighbors against each other,” said Alejo Giron, a communal farmer in La Venta. “If this place has so much possibility, where are the benefits for us?” ...

One day in 2006, a truck with a loudspeaker showed up in the town of Santa María Xadani.

“It went around saying there was going to be a program to help farmers, and that we should show up the next night for a meeting,” said farmer Abel Sánchez.

At the meeting, representatives from Spanish firm Endesa handed out soft drinks and explained that they wanted to rent land for their wind generators, Sánchez said.

It was a complicated deal. The company would pay 1.4% of the profit, plus $300 a year for each tower, with the money divided among the hundreds of landowners, a contract obtained by The Arizona Republic shows. Each landowner would get an additional $4.60 an acre annually, and the company would pay $182 per acre of land damaged during construction. There was a signing bonus of $37.

In exchange, property owners would have to get permission from the energy company before selling their land or striking deals for development.

One good cow can produce $90 of milk a month, so most farmers were unimpressed, Sánchez said. But the company representatives made it sound like a government program, he said, and there seemed to be little to lose. Many small landowners signed up even though they couldn’t read.

Meanwhile, construction began on other wind parks. Many landowners were shocked at the disruption. To support the huge generators, crews built gravel roads 50 feet across, hammered in pylons and poured 1,200 tons of concrete for each tower. Pads of gravel 100 feet long and 50 feet wide were dumped onto sorghum fields and grazing land to support the cranes.

Farmer Salvador Ordaz now has two roads cutting through his 16 acres of pasture and says part of the land is unusable because of dust and blocked irrigation lines. He has had to cut his herd to 10 cows from 30. “When you think of windmills, you just think of this one tower,” Ordaz said. “But it affects a lot more land than that.”

Some companies are paying 50 cents to $1 per square yard annually for damages and have promised to remove much of the gravel once construction is complete. But Sánchez and about 180 other farmers in the towns of Xadani, Union Hildago and Juchitán decided they wanted none of it. They sued Endesa and two other Spanish companies, Preneal and Union Fenosa, saying the companies had misled poorly educated landowners and tricked them into signing lopsided deals.

Endesa and Union Fenosa did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Preneal declined to comment.

Pasqualetti said the payments are a fraction of the $3,000 to $5,000 that energy companies pay annually to farmers in Iowa. “The evidence would indicate (Mexican landowners) are not getting what they should be getting,” he said.

In October, Preneal relented and canceled its contracts with the dissenting landowners. Endesa and Union Fenosa did the same in March.

“It’s clean energy but dirty business,” said Claudia Vera, a lawyer at the Tepeyac Human Rights Center who helped the landowners with their case.

Opposition has spread to other towns, sometimes opening up old racial and political feuds.

In San Mateo del Mar, populated by Huavé Indians, residents voted to keep out the energy companies, re-igniting territorial disputes with neighboring villages dominated by Zapotec Indians, said local activist Roselia Gutiérrez.

In La Venta, proponents and opponents have broken along political party lines, with Institutional Revolutionary Party members supporting the contracts and the more liberal Democratic Revolutionary Party opposing them. On the national level, the Democratic Revolutionary Party has accused Calderón of using the wind farms as a test case for privatizing Mexico’s oil and electricity sector.

Demonstrations in La Venta have halted construction six times at the Eurus wind farm, owned by Acciona Energy. Graffiti in the town blasts company officials and members of the local ejido, or farm cooperative. “Get out, Wilson!” says one. “La Venta belongs to the ejido members!” says another.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tehuantepec printed fliers depicting the Spanish companies as invading Spanish galleons. “No to the robbery of our territory! No to the wind power projects!” they say. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated when Calderón came to inaugurate a project in January. ...

Many residents say they’ve benefited. ...

Others wonder how long the good times will last. Once construction is finished, Acciona has promised to remove the gravel pads and reduce the access roads from 50 feet wide to 20. The land-damage fees it pays will shrink dramatically then.

“People are not thinking about the long term,” Giron said. “Those generators will be making millions of dollars for the company, and they will be limiting what you can do with your land for 30, 40 years. Soon, whatever they’re paying won’t seem like very much money anymore.”

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights, anarchism, ecoanarchism, anarchosyndicalism

June 29, 2007

The Vandals that support industrial wind energy

This is of a piece with the industry they support. (Click on the title of this post.)

Also see:
Pro-wind violence on Skye
Industrial exploitation in Mexico and China
Forest dwellers of India losing their land to wind energy development (like the Zapotecas in Oaxaca, the Maori in New Zealand, the Aborigines in Australia, and rural communities everywhere)

This is a predatory effort of industrial possession of the last peaceful places, all under a "green" cloak, the engines of the juggernaut fanned by hysterical "environmentalists" clamoring for the symbolic triumph of giant erections waving from every hilltop while ignoring their impotence and the real destruction below.

It is a senselessly violent gesture in the name of -- and very much against -- the environment and people.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights, animal rights, Vermont, anarchism, ecoanarchism

May 28, 2007

Wind: corporate "environmentalism" at its worst

To Don Fitz, editor of Synthesis/Regeneration: A Magazine of Green Social Thought and writer of "Consume Like There's No Tomorrow":

The corporate enviro embrace of industrial-scale wind energy is not an exception but fits perfectly in your critique.

As the first section of the essay "A Problem With Wind" concludes, 'wind farms constitute an increase in energy supply, not a replacement. They do not reduce the costs -- environmental, economic, and political -- of other means of energy production. If wind towers do not reduce conventional power use, then their manufacture, transport, and construction only increases the use of dirty energy. The presence of "free and green" wind power may even give people license to use more energy.'

Wind is an intermittent, highly variable, and unpredictable source, so it either requires the building of new quick-response conventionally powered plants for back-up (such as the natural gas plant that would be built to support Delaware's planned off-shore wind facility and the diesel plant that Cape Wind's parent company would build to support that facility) or elaborate and manufacturing-intense storage systems, whose added inefficiencies would seriously cut into wind's already low output.

Since Enron set up the modern wind industry in the 1990s, its only success has been a massive transfer of public funds into private bank accounts.

Wind energy also requires huge amounts of space (60 acres per megawatt, according to the American Wind Energy Association) or clearing and road building on forested mountaintops.

With very rare exceptions, it also represents NIMBY predatory capitalism at its worst. In the U.S. and similar countries, the usual targets for sprawling industrial wind facilities are poor rural communities. Wind has become part of the current strife in Oaxaca, as the governor and president assist the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola in taking the lands of ejidatarios without consent and with very poor compensation. Their interest in erecting hundreds of giant wind turbines in the western hemisphere's most important migratory bird flyway is not to provide energy (which will be all but lost by the time it gets to where it might be needed) but to generate carbon "credits" for Spain.

Not only should big wind not be a focus at the expense of conservation, it should be rejected as a destructive boondoggle.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, ecoanarchism

March 29, 2007

Wind Energy in the Third World

It has just been announced that Energias de Portugal (EDP) is buying Horizon Wind Energy from Goldman Sachs (for $2.15 billion, twice what Goldman Sachs paid for it less than 2 years ago). This follows the purchase of Community Energy and PPM Energy (the latter through its purchase of Scottish Power) by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

Other foreign companies active in U.S. wind energy development include Ireland's Airtricity, Spain's Gamesa and Naturener, Australia's Babcock & Brown, Electricité de France (via Enxco), Nedpower of The Netherlands, Shell, BP, and the various UPC Wind companies funded by European investors through Italian parent UPC Group.

Beyond the fact that prospects for wind energy expansion are drying up in Europe while subsidies in the U.S. can cover up to 75% of the cost of erecting a wind energy facility, might there be another reason for so much foreign investment in wind energy?

Spain's Iberdrola is also erecting wind turbines in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. Spanish regulators have ruled that the electricity produced there can be applied towards Spain's Kyoto (and now E.U.) obligations. That's because Mexico is exempt from the Kyoto accord.

The U.S. has not signed on to the Kyoto accord and has not established similar requirements. As in Mexico, might the foreign owners of wind energy facilities in the U.S. be intending to claim the "renewable energy credits" for their own countries?

Thus, all that industrialization of rural and wild landscapes, the fragmentation and degradation of natural habitat, the destruction of wildlife, and the wrecking of people's peaceful enjoyment of their homes would not even serve to meet the goals of expanded renewable energy established in many states.

This ineffective tokenism is also seen in the misdirected effort of renewable portfolio standards. The goal, as with the Kyoto accord, is to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. But the requirement is only to add non-carbon sources of electricity (and ignoring transport, heating, and industry uses of fossil fuels).

If the goal is indeed to reduce emissions, then that should be the requirement.

Spain will not be reducing its carbon emissions by building giant turbines in Mexico. Yet they will nonetheless be credited for doing so, based only on the production from those turbines without any proof of a corresponding reduction of fossil fuels even in Mexico, let alone in Spain.

It appears that much of the U.S. has become a third-world country as well, ripe for exploitation by global capitalists as well as our own "developers."

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, human rights

December 7, 2005

Industrial (but "green") exploitation

The targeting of rural areas of the so-called "developed" world for large wind power projects is bad enough. The drive to control lands until now beyond their grasp and the contempt for the people who must live with the giant machines should be clear to any concerned citizen. It is extraction of a region's wealth to line the vaults of bankers in Boston and New York.

If not here at home, this feudal pattern is more obvious in recent news reports from Mexico and China. From Juchitan, Oaxaca (El Universal, Dec. 6):
In this town where strong winds bend trees and overturn truck trailers on the Panamerican highway, Dolores Girón Carrasco says people are in favor of wind power plants, but are opposed to developers that "pretend to give us a bargain" in exchange for generating electricity.

"Investment is welcome," she said, "but not under the conditions of payment they want to give us for renting our land."

Girón owns 3 hectares inside an area designated for the windpower project La Venta II, administered by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), which will see the installation of 83 electricity-producing generators.

The Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has managed a pilot project called "La Venta I" since 1994, which has generated electricity by harnessing the regions powerful winds. ...

However, residents are wary. "We don't trust the CFE because they tricked us," said Girón. "They offered to pave roads and cover the cost of the electricity used to pipe potable water to us, in exchange for letting them use our farmland to install wind generators.

"But they didn't fulfill their end of the deal. They always said they were in the red, and in 2001 when we demanded to see their budget, they jailed our people, including my brother Roberto," she added. ...

La Ventosa mayor Alberto Toledo López said, "Those who pass for representatives of wind developers are little more than 'coyotes;' they are middlemen with no technical skills and they don't have the financing. They want to rent a hectare of land from us for 1,000 pesos (US95) a year with rights to sell the contract to foreign companies."

Toledo said a wind developer called Energía del Istmo leased land from small farmers on 30-year contracts for 100,000 pesos (USD95,400) which they turned around and sold to the Spanish Iberdrola for 500,000 euros (USD586,000). "That's why there is distrust. We are not against wind power projects, only against their methods of payment," he said. ...

However, there is also a legislative proposal pending in congress. Federal Deputy Francisco Javier Carrillo Soberón, of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), said foreign windpower companies are lobbying Congress to pass a renewable energy initiative that is favorable to business without considering the impact on the communities.
And from Danzhou, Quangdong (Reuters, Dec. 7):
Chinese police opened fire on villagers protesting against the lack of compensation for land lost to a new wind farm in the southern province of Guangdong, local officials and residents said on Wednesday.

U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Asia and residents said at least two villagers were killed in the assault after riot police moved into the area on Monday to quell the unrest in the Guangdong village of Dongzhou.

"In the beginning, there were about 100 to 200 villagers protesting and gradually the number got bigger as more and more people came to watch," said an official surnamed Chen in the nearby city of Shanwei. ...

Police detained three representatives from Dongzhou on Tuesday, which prompted thousands more to come and demand their release, the Radio Free Asia report said, putting the number involved in the demonstration at 10,000.

China has seen increasing disputes over land rights and compensation as breakneck development encroaches into rural areas, and although the Communist Party is bent on maintaining stability, popular protests are becoming more frequent. ...

Residents said they did not object to the new plant but to the fact that they had not been properly compensated for their land.

"The central government sent money for compensation but the corrupt officials who were supposed to give it out stole it away," said one resident.

It was unclear how many people were injured or killed in the clashes.

Radio Free Asia, quoting a hospital official, said two villagers had died. One resident said "several" people had been killed while another, whose husband participated in the protest, put the number of dead at 20.

"No one dares go out," said one, adding that parents were keeping their children home from school.

An official at the Dongzhou hospital said he had not heard of any deaths but that several injured were in hospital.

Another resident said when she left work on Tuesday the air was so thick with tear gas she could not open her eyes.
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