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Wind and solar projects take land of Mexican indigenous people

Mexico’s indigenous people are under assault by international energy companies who have targeted community farm lands in the southern states of Yucatan and Oaxaca for their wind and solar energy development.

'Proyecto de Muerte’ or Death Project(s) is the term Mexican locals use for the projects, and for good reason.

The over 1-million panel (330 MW) solar project is proposed to be built by Vega Solar, a subsidiary of US solar giant SunPower. The panels will cover 674 hectares in Yucatán between the Mayan-speaking villages of San José Tipceh and Plan Chac.

Iberdrola of Spain is constructing the PIER IV project, an 84-turbine wind facility on community land in Oaxaca adjacent to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve. In May 2019, Mexico’s Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources found that the project would produce irreversible environmental damage spanning over 4,438 hectares (11,000 acres) and result in a substantial loss of original forest value.

In both instances, the local people complained they were never consulted about the projects before their lands were leased for development. The record documenting the consultation for the solar project shows minimal contact with the people. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) 1989 Indigenous and Tribal People Convention mandates that indigenous people be granted prior, free and informed consultation and a say in any permitting decision.

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