México

Guyana

Trinidad
& Tobago




Very usefull links



PW
Bookstore





News links

AP

AFP

Aljazeera

Dow Jones

Oil price

Reuters

Bloomberg

Views and News
from
Norway

 

 

 

In Mexico, resistance to solar projects bodes badly for fast-tracking train


 


 


By Sheky Espejo, Noe Torres / Reuters

SAN JOSÉ TIPCEH, Mexico
Petroleumworld 11 30 2018

The Yucatan peninsula, dividing the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean, is among Mexico's top destinations for renewable energy firms thanks to its strong winds and sunny climate. Home to bustling tourist resorts such as Cancun, the area is also a big energy consumer.

But some of its Mayan indigenous communities are resisting rapid development of $1.1 billion of renewable energy projects and preparing to fight a plan to build a railway across the peninsula.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Saturday, wants to fast track the construction of the tourist and freight line.

“In the communities, there is concern that their opinion will not be taken into account once again with this project,” said Carlos Escoffié, lawyer for the Collective of Mayan Communities in the Chenes region.

In San Jose Tipceh, a town of 500 people surrounded by jungles, indigenous leaders delayed by 18 months a multi-million dollar renewable energy project by U.S.-based solar company SunPower Corp, which planned to begin operations in August.

“We are practically selling our families for a little bit of money,” said resident Damián Mugarte, threatening to take the battle to Mexico's highest court.

Indigenous resistance capitalizes on a law passed in the wake of the 1994 Zapatista uprising in southern Mexico that compels the government to consult with indigenous people for projects on their land. But the rules are ambiguous for investors and communities alike.

Some experts warn that unless the new government puts in place clear guidelines all sides agree on, the issue has the potential to stall railways, ports, mines and other infrastructure projects.

“If not fixed, the problem can become the main obstacle for economic growth,” said Hector Garza of international law firm Ritch Mueller who has advised the current government in developing the legal framework for this process.

Rodolfo Salazar, who heads the consultation department for the current government at the Ministry of Energy, said rules put in place had helped resolve some conflicts but acknowledged they were not adequate to win the trust of indigenous populations.

TRAIN ON TIME?

Left-leaning Lopez Obrador has pledged to amend the constitution to further reflect the indigenous rights, a move that will force the government and companies to pay more heed to their concerns.

That may make it harder to build the Mayan Train, a 1,525-km (948-mile) railway planned in the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Tabasco and Chiapas, connecting the rainforest and the beach.

It could also spell difficulties for another railway to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, which Lopez Obrador hopes could boost the economy of the poor southern state of Oaxaca.

In an effort to win popular backing for the project, Lopez Obrador last week held a national referendum on the Mayan Train and nine other policy initiatives - including an oil refinery in the Gulf of Mexico - as part of his pledge to allow greater popular say in government decision-making during his six-year term.

But the referendums have stirred controversy because of low participation rates and opaque monitoring of results. Only around 950,000 people voted in the Nov. 24-25 consultation, representing just 1.1 percent of eligible voters.

His first consultation last month called for canceling the construction of a partially built $13 billion airport for Mexico City - sending the peso currency and the stock market sharply lower as investors fretted over how he would manage the economy.

Although Lopez Obrador vowed to respect the opinion of towns and villages affected by the Mayan Train, he has also pledged to launch a tender to find a private sector partner for the project soon after he takes office.

In Yucatan, activists say that none of the 163 communities through which the train will pass have been provided with information about the project.

The fear is that “they will find people close to the government to simulate popular support, something which has happened repeatedly on the peninsula,” said Escoffié, of the Collective of Mayan Communities.

Rights groups, including Amnesty International, have highlighted the need for consultations on projects that will drive through some pristine natural habitats and indigenous lands.

Lopez Obrador has said that the train project, which he expects to take four years to complete and to cost between $6 billion and $8 billion, will provide a boost to the economy of the five southern states, which remain less developed than the more industrialized north.

The train will provide easier access to key tourist sites, like the Mayan coastal ruins at Tulum and the famed complex at Chichen Itza. Lopez Obrador has said much of the project would be paid for with revenues from tourism taxes in coming years.

VAGUE REGULATIONS

Indigenous communities already oppose almost a dozen projects across Mexico's southern states awarded in 2016 as part of President Enrique Pena Nieto's bid to generate more than a third of Mexico's electricity from renewable energy by 2024.

Under existing law, projects are put to a vote which the majority must support for projects to go ahead.

But regulations are vague, and communities and international organizations including the United Nations argue that in many cases indigenous peoples have not been consulted properly.

The process has caused frustrations for investors. On the Oaxacan coast, an indigenous Zapotec community won a court order to suspend the construction of a wind farm by French state company EDF since April.

EDF said the delays jeopardize its investments in Mexico.

“How much can we stand?” said Víctor Tamayo, EDF's regional director in Mexico. “Much of the difficulty we are experiencing is because there are no rules and the federal government is responsible.”

In San José Tipceh, SunPower's investment finally won approval in a consultation. The launch of the massive solar park has been postponed until September 2020.

“Every day that passes, there are costs associated,” said Adrien Mallet, director of business development at SunPower in Mexico. However, he said the company was not frustrated by the delay and was focused on strengthening its links with the local community.

Many in the impoverished town - where most inhabitants work in agriculture, growing corn, lemons and tangerines - say the park will bring much-needed jobs.

“We are barely surviving here,” complained Anastacio Ake, a 62-year-old evangelical pastor, saying he would welcome the money and the solar panels the company has promised to install in homes.

 


________________________



We invite you to join us as a sponsor. Circulated Videos, Articles, Opinions and Reports which carry your name and brand are used to target Entrepreneurs through our site, promoting your organization’s services. The opportunity is to insert in our stories pages short attention-grabbing videos, or to publish your own feature stories.

 

Reporting by Sheky Espejo and Noe Torres; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Christine Murray and Dan Flynn de Reuters .

reuters.com
11 29 2018




Copyright© 1999-2018 Petroleumworld or respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.

We welcome the use of Petroleumworld™ (PW) stories by anyone provided it mentions Petroleumworld.com as the source.

Other stories you have to get authorization by its authors. Internet web links to http://www.petroleumworld.com are appreciated.

Petroleumworld welcomes your feedback and comments, share your thoughts on this article, your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us
their views and comments about this article.
Write to editor@petroleumworld.com

By using this link, you agree to allow PW
to publish your comments on our letters page.

Any question or suggestions,
please write to: editor@petroleumworld.com

Best Viewed with IE 5.01+ Windows NT 4.0, '95,
'98,ME,XP, Vista, Windows 7,8,10 +/ 800x600 pixels

Twitter: @petroleumworld1


TOP

Contact: editor@petroleumworld.com,

Editor & Publisher:Elio Ohep/
Contact Email: editor@petroleumworld.com

CopyRight © 1999-2016, Paul Ohep F. - All Rights Reserved. Legal Information

PW in Top 100 Energy Sites

CopyRight©1999-2017, Petroleumworld ™  / Elio Ohep - All rights reservedThis site is a public free site and it contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of business, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have chosen to view the included information for research, information, and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission fromPetroleumworld or the copyright owner of the material.