- The Early Warning aims at attending cases of grave violations and of impossible reparation in situations when there is knowledge of alleged generalized violations of human rights.
- Human rights defenders in Unión Hidalgo have been exposed to threats, intimidation and physical aggressions in the defense of their land, territory and natural resources.
- The Early Warning is addressed to the main State authorities, so that they comply with their obligation to promote, respect, protect and guarantee the human rights of community defenders and the whole community of Unión Hidalgo.
On June 13th, 2018 the Ombudsperson’s Office for the Human Rights of the Peoples of Oaxaca, Mexico, issued and published the Early Warning mechanism, as provided by the Law for the Defense of the Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca, for the high risk situation that human rights defenders of the indigenous Zapotec community of Unión Hidalgo are facing because of the conflicts arising from the implementation of wind energy mega projects in the region.
The Ombudsperson’s Office has requested the Governor of Oaxaca, Secretary General, Secretary of Indigenous Affairs, Secretary of Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development, Secretary of Public Safety, Executive Branch’s Coordinator for Attention to Human Rights and the Municipal President of Unión Hidalgo to implement effective comprehensive actions and safeguard the human rights of indigenous peoples.
The goal of the Early Warning mechanism is to use recommendations to prevent the likely massive human rights violations resulting from conflict and threats. Following this logic, the Ombudsperson´s Office highlighted to the violence and insecurity in which Unión Hidalgo’s human rights defenders work.
Along with promotion of the corridor of the Istmo de Tehuantepec as the principal generator of wind energy in the last two decades, various wind parks have been constructed in the region, one of them by the company Desarrollos Eólicos Mexicanos (DEMEX), a subsidiary of Renovalia Energy. As this project was implemented in Unión Hidalgo without prior, free and informed consent of the indigenous Zapotec community, they took legal actions in defense of their human rights to land, territory and natural resources, and against the mega projects that have been violating their social, economic and cultural rights that are recognized constitutionally and conventionally.
The community has reacted to the arrival of the company DEMEX in their community by organizing around the defense of their rights, which made them become human rights defenders of Unión Hidalgo. For the act of defending their rights, they have suffered threats, intimidation and physical aggressions, documented by the Human Rights Defense Organization, which since 2011 has been issuing precautionary measures to various governmental agencies at the state level.
Due to the violence to which human rights defenders and Unión Hidalgo’s general population have been subject and with the aim of guaranteeing their human rights to life, personal integrity and liberty, the Ombudsman’s Office, as part of the precautionary measures, holds monthly meetings with their beneficiaries and state authorities.
Nevertheless, the security risks for the defense of human rights in the community have not decreased, also taking into account that in the course of their legal actions, the community learned about the planned installation of another wind project, called “Gunaa Sicarú”, which belongs to Eólica de Oaxaca S.A.P.I. de C.V., a subsidiary of the transnational company EDF.
This situation unleashes a series of judicial and extrajudicial actions by community defenders from Unión Hidalgo, considering that the State committed Human Rights violations in failing to respect the principles that ought to be guaranteed in an Indigenous Consultation: that it is prior, free, informed, culturally adequate, held in appropriate circumstances and in good faith.
The National Commission of Human Rights has, in accordance with its faculties, issued precautionary measures that make the Secretary of Energy, via its General Directorate of Social Impact and Surface Occupation, suspend the consultation which was scheduled for April 11th, 2018. Additionally, the First District Court in San Bartolo Coyotepec, Oaxaca, issued provisional and definitive suspensions of the Consultation Procedure and suspended the construction of the Gunaa Sicarú project.
In the context of the above-mentioned authorities’ determination to suspend the Consultation Procedure, the Ombudsman’s Office highlighted the increased insecurity for human rights defenders resulting from the obtained successes of their defense movement, especially the suspension of the indigenous consultation, issued by Judge Elizabeth Franco Cervantes.
This adds to the current issues faced by the community: the upcoming local and federal election and the reconstruction needs after the September 2017 earthquakes. The combination of those issues made the community vulnerable to violence and led the Ombudsman’s Office to issuing precautionary measures requiring State Police Forces to patrol the streets in Unión Hidalgo in order to avoid aggressions against community defenders and other community members.
The Ombudsperson’s Office for the Human Rights of the People of Oaxaca issued the Early Warning considering that the above-explained conditions prove the existing danger and insecurity in the region, particularly in Unión Hidalgo, because of the implementation of EDF’s project Gunaa Sicarú.
Mexico City, June 20th, 2018