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Indigenous Communities Attempt to Halt Construction of Massive Hydroelectric Facility in Chiapas

LADB Article ID: 80000
Category/Department: Mexico
Date: 2016-06-01
By: Carlos Navarro

A plan by the Mexican government to build a massive hydroelectric dam on the Usumacinta River has drawn major opposition from at least 60 indigenous groups on both sides of the Mexico-Guatemala border. The Boca del Cerro hydroelectric dam is one of five large power-generating facilities proposed for the Usumacinta Basin, which divides the Mexican state of Chiapas and northwestern Guatemala. According to Mexico’s national electric utility (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE), the Boca del Cerro facility would be constructed over four years, with the reservoir wall as high as 55.5 meters. The planned facility would cover a surface of about 800 hectares, of which 707 are located in the municipality of Tenosique and 92 in Palenque. Indigenous organizations have voiced strong concerns about the project, which they say would damage the integrity of their communities, result in the loss of their lands, and cause major environmental damage. Furthermore, a study released when the reservoir was first proposed more than a decade ago raised a flag about potential damage to archeological sites in the area.

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