|English | Español||April 2, 2015 | Issue #67|
Communities in Jalisco Organize for the Final Battle Against the El Zapotillo Dam
In Addition to a Legal Strategy, Residents are Betting on Community Organizing
By Fernando León
The Third International Meeting of People Affected by Dams and their Allies held in October 2010 in Temacapulín, Jalisco. Courtesey of Oscar Olivera.
After the community of Temacapulín won the injunction in a state court to suspend the project, Narco News talked with Olivera about the case and his personal experience in the communities resisting the El Zapotillo dam. To Olivera, Temacapulín “is a very well organized and valiant town. ” In 2009 he went to the town for the first time and shared the experience he had almost a decade earlier in Cochabamba. He says there he told the people that “when a small ‘town’ like Bolivia can confront such enormous powers—not just political powers like the army and the police, but also economic ones—it is important that people learn and share what they learn. In that way they don’t feel alone, abandoned, or weak. ”
Olivera noted that the struggles driving Cochabamba and Temacapulín are very similar. “The governments are despised, the multinationals have the laws in their favor, the army and police are involved, and there is the same fear,” he says. “It was so common it was as if we were talking with people in Cochabamba nine years ago.”
The fortitude that the Bolivian people achieved in the water wars was something that was attained gradually, Olivera says. For him, another similarity is that “the people are non-existent” to those who govern. However, he stated that in the case of Temacapulín this condition should be exploited to “generate the indignation and anger that builds the bonds of solidarity and articulation with other peoples.” Olivera notes that “in Cochabamba we were five people at first, and we turned that into half a million, and there was no force that could stop us.” That is something that can happen in the case of Jalisco and other parties in similar situations, he notes.
For Olivera the legal victory in the community is a “boost for victorious residents, in enemy territory.” However, the government has continued the construction because it has began a counter suit. The community, IMDEC says, “is fighting to the very end to achieve the permanent suspension of the dam,” along with a “population center” the government has begun to construct for the displaced communities to stay.
In addition to the struggles the community is making in other areas, the successful injunction could cancel the construction work that has been done in Temacapulín, where “a mood prevails that the struggle is legitimate, and that the community is right,” the IMDEC states.
The affected communities are optimistic that they will be successful in stopping the dam that would flood their homes and displace them from their lands. Oscar Olivera thinks that they will win, since he says that in the end “the people are who make the history and the struggles.”
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism