A few weeks ago, I met our forced evictions campaign partners in Mexico and we traveled together to Temacapulín, a small community in the mountains of Jalisco state that has been fighting its own eviction for several years due to the construction of the El Zapotillo Dam.
We were reuniting after our first training in January, when we spent nine days together in a charming convent in Mexico Citylearning the basics of effective video advocacy and discussing how video could strengthen the participants’ campaigns against forced evictions.
This time around, we were excited to meet again and hear how our
partners had been using video since January. Over two days we heard
about how youth activists from the CECOP campaign screened a video
to the state governor asking him to cancel the La Parota Dam project;
we heard about how our partners in Oaxaca used video to influence the
local media, mobilize the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and engage affected communities in the resistance against the Paso de la Reina Dam. We also heard about how activists in Temacapulín filmed their peaceful occupation of the El Zapotillo Dam site to halt construction and persuade local authorities to engage in dialogue with the community.
At night, we all gathered in the community center with several other
local residents to watch videos about the resistance in Temacapulín and
other communities at risk of forced evictions because of large dams.
It was extremely powerful and inspiring to see these communities
continue to rise up amidst such harsh circumstances like threats from
local authorities, a complete lack of information about what may happen
to their communities, and a flagrant disregard by local authorities of
local court rulings (which have often sided with these communities).
The following day, we split up into campaign groups and reorganized
our planning for the coming months. So far, the three campaigns we are
supporting have produced 7 advocacy videos,
replicated video advocacy trainings in affected communities, and
created innovative strategies for using video to foster community
mobilization and increase the pressure on local authorities to refrain
from conducting unlawful evictions.
Though the threat of the forced evictions continues to loom over
these communities, these small but important victories show that video
can play an important role in ensuring thevoices of those affected are
heard by decision-makers and influence-makers.
I’m excited to see what our partners will do next.