Zapotillo Dam a done deal, protest goes on

A “media montage” was how opponents of the Zapotillo Dam described their recent talks with state and federal authorities that ended Wednesday with the expected announcement that the 175-million-dollar project would proceed as planned.

Three communities, including the historic town of Temacapulín in north-eastern Jalisco, will be flooded to make way for the new curtain dam, which, according to the National Water Commission (Conagua), will provide water for some 2.4 million people – 1.1 million in Leon, 950,000 in Guadalajara and 350,000 in 14 municipalities of Jalisco’s Los Altos region  Around 3,000 residents will be displaced by the dam, which was one-quarter complete before the talks started in March.

Many residents and farmers of Temacapulin have declined to accept the government’s offer of being rehoused in new properties, as well as larger tracts of land. “I want to have the right to live where I want because I’m a human being,” Temacapulin resident Jose Merced Aramburo told Mural newspaper this week at the end of the talks.

Opponents of the dam claimed that authorities brought locals who support the dam to the talks in order to create a confrontation and generate negative press.  They said Conagua officials never had the remotest interest in listening to their point of view.

Gabriel Espinoza, a representative of the Let’s Save Temacapulin Committee, said the struggle to stop the dam would continue. “We’re united, they haven’t weakened us. We are more alive than ever and we will continue to defend our territory with dignity and strength.

“This entire project has been an imposition. The government couldn’t care about minorities. We don’t have a voice or a vote because there are only a few of us.”

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