On balance, wind turbine projects are usually seen as a good thing, harnessing natural forces to produce sustainable energy.
However, a project dubbed Eólica del Sur, Sydvind, which has been given the go-ahead involving the Danish firm Vestas, has been drawing fire from indigenous peoples in the Oaxaca region.
The Mexican government is being accused of going ahead with the project and riding roughshod over the feelings of the people living in the area – one of the poorest in Mexico.
The Danish export credit fund has guaranteed the project with 1.5 billion kroner, reports Danwatch.
Through the courts
The locals charge that the 132 wind turbines are situated in fields where they traditionally graze their animals and grow badly-needed vegetables to prevent starvation in the winter months, which are also sources of traditional medicine.
Opposition to the projects dates back to at least 2012, with a number of demonstrations being organised as well as legal challenges. In November 2018, the Supreme Court in Mexico gave the green light for the project, which is now one of the largest in Latin America.
“Why should we give our earth to an international firm that can come here and produce wind energy and earn money at our expense,” asked Bettina Cruz Velasquez, a spokesperson for the assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Defense of Land and Territory.
Treading on local toes
“The indigenous people who are born and live here in the isthmus have rights that must be recognised. Companies shouldn’t just come and build on our lane without us giving permission,” added Velasquez.
Velasquez argues that Vestas’s actions breach international conventions that both Mexico and Denmark have signed – for example, the International Labour Organization’s convention 169, which specifies that special consideration should be given to indigenous peoples.
According to Danwatch, the wind turbines will be exclusively powering private companies such as Coca Cola and Heineken, whilst local people are still short of power.