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La Parota Dam, Mexico


The project to build La Parota Dam, along the Papagayo River in South Mexicos Guerrero State, was first introduced in 2003. Under the responsibility of the Mexican Federal Electricity Commission (CFE, which has been eyeing the Papagayo River since the 1970s), the project would permanently damage the biodiversity of the Acapulco, Juan R. Escudero and San Marcos municipalities. Local residents, who would suffer from the flooding and loss of their lands and homes, started a long struggle to defend their territory, organizing protest rallies and roadblocks. In 2004 affected communities created the Council of Communal Land Owners and Communities Against Construction of La Parota Dam (CECOP). They joined forces with MAPDER – the Mexican Movement of Dam–Affected People – and held numerous protests and other activities to register their opposition to the dam. Several protests were met with violent police repression, which resulted in two deaths and violated the rights of affected communities. The CECOP also started a legal battle to publicly denounce problems and irregularities linked to its implementation. They denounced how the Federal Electricity Commission tried to obtain project approval by holding false consultations and preventing attendance by those opposed to the dam. In January 2006, a Mexican court declared that some of the consultation meetings held by the Federal Electricity Commission were invalid.

A temporary injunction was ordered by Mexican federal judge Lidia Larumbe on September 11, 2007 in response to a suit accusing the government and the CFE of illegally granting environmental clearance and a water concession for the dam, along with serious human rights violations, failing to follow Mexican and international environmental law, and refusing to conduct an open and transparent approval process. However, Judge Livia Larumbe Radilla lifted her own restraining order against the project in November 7th after verifying that the project would not affect the interests of the indigenous Cacahuatepec community.

Finally, August 16th 2012 saw the end of La Parota Dam, with the "Acuerdos de Cacahuatepec" (Cacahuatepec Agreement).

One of the leaders of the farmers’ movement Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la Presa La Parota (Council of Communal Land Owners and Communities Against Construction of La Parota Dam – CECOP), Marco Antonio Suástegui Muñoz, has been arrested in the municipality of Acapulco on 17th June 2014, accused of riots and a aggression. The CECOP released a press note and a letter of support was signed from many groups in and outside Mexico [3]. Suástegui was released 14 months later [4]. La Parota was postponed until 2018 by the Mexican government, ostensibly due to the economic downturn.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:La Parota Dam, Mexico
State or province:Guerrero
Location of conflict:Acapulco, San Marcos, Juan R. Escudero, Tecoanapa and Chilpancingo
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The dam will be of 192 meters with a capacity of 756 MW. It will be built 350 km south of Mexico City and less than 50 km from the Acapulco Harbour. Cost of one billion USD, it promises 10000 jobs in construction.

Many municipalities will be affected, while other 20 ejidos, 4 communal properties and only one privately owned property, will be affected.

Project area:17,300
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectOriginally, the estimated cost was around $1 billion (International Rivers)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:25,000 displaced; 75,000 for further impacts on the ecosystem
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Federal Electricity Comission Mexico (CFE) from Mexico
Ingenieros Civiles Asociados (ICA) from Mexico
Relevant government actors:Federal Government of Mexico, Government of the State of Guerrero - Mexico
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:CECOP - Mexico, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan", CDHMT - Mexico, OCSS - Mexico, MAPDER, Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas- Mexico, CEDMA - Mexico, The Latin American Water Tribunal, Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo (UCIZONI), Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias (CRAC), Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Refusal of compensation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Proposal and development of alternatives:Local inhabitants don't want the dam in their territory, considering that they will loose it completely. They were not even consulted on the project, despite the fact that it would seriously affect their own land.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero, acnowledged in May 2012 that the community of Cacahuatepec had won and La Parota dam would not be built.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Environmental Protection Law

Agrarian Law

Mexican constitution

General Law for Ecological Balance

Legislation on National Waterways

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Mexico frente a la mundializacion neoliberal. Guillon Romo, Hector. Era. 2005

Lectura critica del Plan Puebla Panama. Insumisos Latinoamericanos, Cuerpo Academico Internacional e Interinstitucional. 2003

Represas. La lucha contra los modernos dinosaurios. World Rainforest Movement. 2003

Resumen de violaciones legales del Proyecto Hidroelctrico de La Parota. CEMDA-AIDA

Marco global de referencia para la accion juridica en la defensa del medio ambiente. Los derechos humanos contra las represas y otros proyectos neoliberales. CIEPAC. 2005

Silenced Rivers - The ecology and politics of large Dams. McCully, Patrick. Zed Books. 2001

[1] Hydroworld - Court lets construction resume at Mexico's 900-MW La Parota

[2] International Rivers - Hasta la Victoria: La Parota Dam Cancelled

[3] EJOLT blog in support of community leader Marco Sustegui, arrested for his opposition to the project

[4] Blog SIPAZ - Guerrero: Liberan a vocero del CECOP, Marco Antonio Suastegui


Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Reportage sobre el megaproyecto de construccion de la presa La Parota en el estado de Guerrero, Mexico

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl (A SUD) and Daniela Del Bene (ICTA-UAB)
Last update30/12/2015
Conflict ID:526



Demostration against the Parota Dam

International Rivers