Court suspends construction activity at Mexico’s 900-MW La Parota

A Mexican federal court has suspended construction work on the proposed 900-MW La Parota hydroelectric project pending a ruling on the project’s legality.

The injunction, which is expected to be in effect for several months, prevents national utility Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) from performing any work at the proposed dam site on the Papagayo River in Guerrero State.

A tender for La Parota has been held up by local opposition groups who say it would displace tens of thousands of peasants from ancestral lands. (HNN 8/17/07) A local judge previously ruled one of 19 local assemblies granting the permission to build La Parota was conducted illegally. Dam supporters have appealed.

The latest legal action is examining whether it was legal for the government to grant the CFE permission to use the river water for the dam and cut down nearby trees.

“We have several cases in the courts,� a CFE spokesman said. �We have to wait until all the resolutions are finished.”

The spokesman said CFE had not yet been formally notified of the suspension order.

CFE has been eyeing the Papagayo River since the 1970s. The utility says it needs the 900-MW project to meet Mexico’s soaring power needs, especially with the growth of the nearby Pacific coast resort of Acapulco.

But human rights groups have backed local peasants in a bitter four-year fight to block the project, which they say would displace 25,000 people in the impoverished hills behind Acapulco. Machete-wielding peasants have manned permanent road blocks to stop the CFE’s workers getting to the site.

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