COHRE and HIC launch a report on the impacts of Plan Puebla Panama related-development projects on the right to housing and to land of rural and indigenous communities in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala


Download full report here (spanish)

· The implementation of the analysed projects of infrastructure, energy and tourism have increased land conflicts and social tension, affirm COHRE and HIC

· Development projects must guarantee the respect and fulfillment of the human rights of the affected communities, recommend COHRE and HIC

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) with the collaboration of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) and Space of Coordination of Civil Organizations on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Espacio DESC) launched today, in an open seminar in Mexico City, the publication “The Right to Housing and to Land in face of Development Projects”, which presents the results of the fact-finding mission carried out in Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala in September 2006. The report analyses the impacts of tourist, infrastructure and energy projects on the rights to land and to housing of indigenous communities and peasants in these countries, which where implemented in the scope of regional development schemes, specially the Plan Puebla Panama.

Based on information gathered from interviews and meetings conducted with a range of stakeholders involved in these projects – NGOs, social movements, public authorities, governments, academic researches and journalists – the report highlights the relationship between the implementation of these projects development projects and the legislative and police changes of land and property rights of peasants and indigenous communities. The report focused on specific projects in each country: in Guatemala it analyses the impact of the proposed construction of the dams Champey, Samastun and Xalala on the rights to land, access to natural resources and housing of indigenous communities of Lankín and Ixcan; in Honduras it deals with the tourist projects been supported by the Inter American Development Bank and the World Bank and their impact on territorial rights of Afro-Caribbean Garifuna communities of San Juan and Triunfo de la Cruz; in Mexico it analyses the impact of the construction of the La Parota dam on the right to housing and to land of rural communities.

In the case of Mexico, the reform of the agrarian law in 1992 permitted the sell of land and its concentration on the hand of large landowners, as well as eliminated the obstacles to the implementation of development projects in the planned areas.

The project of La Parota dam, in Mexico, has generated tensions and conflicts among the affected communities, besides the killing of three peasants, due to the lack of adequate information about its impacts and relevance that should be provided by the Federal Energy Commission (CFE). The conflicts and community resistances have been dealt with by the Federal Government in a repressive manner, instead of by providing spaces of dialogue and for compromising. The process of public consultation has been manipulated by CFE and many of them were nullified by judicial orders. The affected communities denounced violations of their human rights to land, housing, information, participation, consultation, water, access to natural resources and self-determination, as a result of the implementation of the project.

Through this report, the international and national organisations want to call the attention of the Mexican government to recognise the gross violations of human rights that would result from the implementation of such project if genuine consultations and the provision of adequate information to the affected communities are not provided. COHRE, HIC and Espacio DESC urge the government to adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the promotion and the protection of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of the affected communities, as well as to respect the recommendations already provided by United Nations bodies – International Labour Organisation, Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Special Rapporteurs with regards to La Parota dam and other projects implemented in the scope of Plan Puebla Panama.

Furthermore, they urge CFE to provide full and adequate information to the affect communities through informed consultations that will take place on 12 August, in the General Assembly of the Indigenous Community of Communal Goods of Cacahuatepec, regarding the social, economic and technical components of the dam project, as well as to allow their effective participation on the outcomes of the project.

The COHRE report provides for recommendations to the governments, banks, social movements and other relevant stakeholders on how to assure the protection and fulfilment of human rights when implementing such projects.

For further information please contact Sebastian Tedeschi, Coordinator of the COHRE Americas Programme, email and Silvia Emanuelli from HIC, email, phone number +52.55.55 12 67 26 and +52.55.55 12 15 86.