Wind Development of Oaxaca, Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec: Energy Efficient or Human Rights Deficient?

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Laura Hamister


Mexico’s current law and policy regarding development of renewable energy sources is incompatible with the legal rights of its indigenous population. Specifically, a conflict exists in Mexico’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a region that is both plentiful with wind power and the longtime home of many indigenous persons of the state of Oaxaca. The desire to harness the available wind energy has resulted in negative ramifications for the original inhabitants of the Isthmus, as Mexico’s expansive energy policy conflicts with the rights of indigenous landholders in Oaxaca. These interests need not be competing. Utilizing the available wind energy through the construction of wind farms can be accomplished in a manner that accommodates the interests of potential wind developers and indigenous people. Regarding Mexico’s energy legislation, more specific provisions regarding enforcement and potential sanctions are necessary to adequately protect the needs of the indigenous people. This would complement Mexico’s substantial legislation regarding the rights of indigenous people. Reducing the use of unfair bargaining tactics, assuring that contractual negotiations are conducted in the appropriate language, expanding the indigenous participation in the economic benefits of wind development, and ensuring that the negative environmental ramifications are mitigated are all manners in which wind development in the Isthmus may be achieved successfully.

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