Dubbed “La Parota” after a tall leafy tree native to the banks of the Papagayo River, a proposed dam that would displace as many as twenty-five thousand people is being aggressively pursued by Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE).
Photo: Eugenia Cruz Zamora stands with her children, holding a picture of her late husband, Tomás, who was killed on his way home from a protest against the La Parota dam.
On a typically hot day last September, Felipe Flores Hernández sat in the front of a wooden boat, a weathered machete strapped across his back. One of his compadres skillfully guided the boat across the Papagayo River, letting it get pulled the wrong way for a few seconds before pushing his long stick down a few meters to the river bottom so he could change directions. In south-central Guerrero, Mexico, the Papagayo splits the communal lands of Cacahuatepec in two. The people here must cross it to see friends and family, or even to get to that day’s food market—and crossing it is no easy feat.
When the boat finally reached the other side, everyone walked together to a vigil in Huamuchitos, located high in the hills east of the river. The widow, Eugenia Cruz Zamora, stood at the entrance of her house, looking beautiful in a frail sort of way. A year had passed since her husband, Tomás Cruz Zamora, had been killed. Following a Mexican tradition, Eugenia was hosting dozens of villagers in her modest garden, serving them pozole, a steamy beef soup, and inviting them indoors to stand in front of the altar that she had temporarily set up in Tomás’s memory.
“I was there with him in the front seat of the truck when they killed him with a single shot to the head,” Eugenia said. “We were coming back from a demonstration against the building of the dam, and our neighbor Cirilo Cruz, whom everyone knew was a supporter of the dam, just shot him.” Eugenia’s two school-age children stood by her feet, seemingly unaware of the meaning and weight of her words.
Dubbed “La Parota” after a tall leafy tree native to the banks of the Papagayo River, a proposed dam that would displace as many as twenty-five thousand people is being aggressively pursued by Mexico’s Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). Many believe that CFE is paying off area residents to support the dam. The CFE is also accused of holding rushed and illegal assembly meetings to generate votes in favor of the dam, and of using excessive police force to prevent villagers in the Council of Ejidos and Communities in Opposition to La Parota Dam (CECOP) from demonstrating against it.
Access the full article and photo slideshow at Orion Magazine.