New Governor's Message Brings Hope to Temaca

Last month the newly-elected Governor of Jalisco State – Jorge Aristóteles Sandoval – officially took office. With his appointment comes a renewed sense of hope for the community of Temacapulín in their struggle to stop El Zapotillo Dam.

After more than seven years of fighting to protect their community – along with the neighboring communities of Acasico and Palmarejo – from being flooded, the residents of Temaca finally received some positive news when in February the head of the Lerma-Santiago-Pacifico basin organization from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) publically determined that the decision about the future of El Zapotillo Dam lies with Governor-elect Aristóteles Sandoval. After this announcement, Mr. Sandoval reiterated on Twitter a short message that he had announced during his campaign saying, “I repeat: Jalisco should be the main beneficiary of the decisions and not the one that suffers, we will not flood Temacapulín.” This message has helped to sustain the community of Temaca over the past few months, breathing new life into this ongoing struggle.

The words of the new governor speak to the broader significance that this fight holds for the affected communities as well as the region and the country. It has become a struggle to not only protect the lives, livelihood and history of these communities, but also to change the way that such decisions are made by the government and authorities in Mexico.

Over the past five years the concerns of the community of Temaca – along with international organizations and the International Court on Human Rights – about El Zapotillo Dam have fallen on deaf ears. Authorities have continued to ignore the strong opposition to the project and the impacts it will have, along with proposals for alternatives to its construction. The position of the newly elected governor is in stark contrast to that of the previous Governor of Jalisco, Emilio González Márquez, who refused to engage in conversations with the community or even visit Temaca. Members of the community and the Mexican Movement Against Dams (MAPDER) have been intimidated and received death threats for their involvement with the campaign. Despite international opposition, legal injunctions and finally sit-down talks with community representatives and local authorities, construction on El Zapotillo has continued.

Despite these obstacles, the community of Temaca – led by the Committee to Save Temaca, Acasico and Palmarejo – has continued to speak out against El Zapotillo Dam and promote the life and culture that is represented within these historic towns.

In 2010 the Committee launched an international campaign “The eyes of the world are on Temaca” (Los Ojos Del Mundo Están Puestos en Temaca) in preparation for Rivers for Life 3: The Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and their Allies, which took place October 1-7. During this time, Temaca was host to more than 300 representatives from dam-affected communities, NGOs and other groups from around the globe who gathered to share experiences, develop collective strategies and strengthen the international movement to protect rivers and human rights. This historic event connected the struggle in Temaca to others being fought around the world; it helped to create an international network of solidarity that still remains strong.

Today the community of Temaca is calling on this strength and international solidarity to ensure that their rights are upheld and that the future of their homes and livelihoods are protected. In a letter to Governor Sandoval they call on him formalize his message to Temaca and officially state to the affected communities, along with the National Water Commission, that El Zapotillo Dam will not flood Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo. Additionally, the community is calling for a dialogue between federal and state governments, project proponents and affected communities to discuss the unviability of El Zapotillo Dam, and the potential for a participatory and integrated system for water management in the state of Jalisco. Fianlly they ask that the state and federal governments present a technical study to ensure that any changes to the project will not affect the communities.

Please take action today in solidarity with the community of Temaca!

  • Show your support through Twitter. Send the following message to Governor Sandoval to show him that the world is watching: @AristotelesSD Temaca te espera. Los ojos del mundo estan en Temaca.

The words of Governor Sandoval show the potential for a change in the top-down desicion making that has ruled Mexico for so long. As the governor starts his new position, we will be carefully watching along with the people of Temaca and the world in the hopes that his words will turn into action. 

¡Los ojos del mundo están puestos en Temaca!
¡Temaca Viva, La Lucha Sigue!

Monday, April 8, 2013