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The second panel of the 12th Meeting of the Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER) of Mexico held on November 10-12 addressed several struggles that are taking place in that country. One of the activists in charge of sharing the experiences of resistance against hydroelectric projects was Miguel Sanchez Olivera of the Nahua Totonaca Organization in Defense of the Territory, of the Totonacapan region of Sierra Norte de Puebla.
"In our territory there are 65 municipalities, inhabited by Nahua, Totonaco, Otomi and Tepehua Peoples. We defend three important rivers of Sierra Norte de Puebla: Apulco, Zempoala and Ajajalpan, which flow into the Tecolutla River", said Miguel. According to him, 4 hydroelectric dams were planned for the Apulco River, whose environmental impact assessments were eventually rejected.
On the Zempoala River there are three hydroelectric projects owned by GESA company, which are being strongly resisted by Nahua and Totonaco local populations, explained Miguel. In Ajajalpan there are 5 hydroelectric projects but the company that concerns the population the most is DESELEC-COMEXHIDRO with its Puebla 1, 2 and 3 projects.
According to Miguel the company has obtained different permits to build the dams and is deceiving the local population to obtain the signatures necessary to gain the support required by the latest energy reform: "The Energy Secretary is making the population sign, but they don´t tell them this was a consultation, they deceive them".
After finding out about these tricks, the local movement organized a strong resistance against the projects, to which the State responded with persecution and criminalization ; "14 colleagues were denounced, we don´t now which their crimes are", and the company attempted to divide the population with money, according to the activist.
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