The people of La Barra don't want this project

by Laura ⌂ @, Wednesday, February 16, 2011, 08:22 (4669 days ago) @ Gringo Viejo

Of course it's not a surprise that there are some (few) in La Barra as there always are in such situations, that don't understand this possible negative impact on their community...INCLUDING...on themselves personally. This is always the case.

The important thing to understand is that in the case of La Barra the majority of the people are conscious of the negative components of such an event and wish it to not happen. They love their life and they love La Barra de Potosi...the place and the community which are deeply tied together.

This is evidenced by the excellent turnout and the opinions voiced in the meeting yesterday organized by the comisario for the purpose of informing the community about this project. The opinions expressed were definitively in the interests of stopping it. The emotions were also clear...deep concern, anger, sadness, fear and readiness to act. In the meeting that involved I think more than a hundred people - and in the middle of a work day- I spoke with only one person who believed we should accept it. He owns land on a farm elsewhere, is getting old...stopped fishing some time ago, and owns an enramada on natural flow area of the lagoon. I know of another who speaks positively about the opportunity to sell. Though he has a deep history with the area, he doesn't live in La Barra, is quite well off economically and has often been in conflict with locals in the village. He owns an enramada, also is getting old, tired of being at the enramada and wants to retire, thinks he will make a killing etc. He is not considered by people in the village to be a member of the local community contrary to the impression many who know him from his enramada may have. No offense to him...he is a friend too. Just trying to clarify background.

La Barra actually has a fighting chance. There has been much work done through these years since learning of the Fonatur plan (7 years ago). Serious studies on behalf of La Barra by top level biologists, architects, ecologists, tzuname scientists, marine biologists have been done over the last 7 years. The outcome of their work has had such strength and positive outcome that in some cases they were published in respected professional journals. An alternative 'Eco-Tourism' developmant plan done for La Barra by students in the faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at la UAG in Chilpancingo as their thesis project as architects won first place in the national SEMARNAT contest for Eco-tourism projects (some in that contest were active projects in existence in Mexico).

The results of these works documented legally important things like the concentration of protected species of flora and fauna, danger in density type developments due to tzuname possibility and water table problems, devastation of healthy coral reefs etc...all issues protected by federal law. La Barra also has the support of the powerful federation of fishing coops which involves thousands of people up and down the coast, many of whom have already suffered the loss of their way of life due to taking it lying down when a project arrived. They are interested in the destruction of the fishing industry which would happen with this project. They have come to tell their story of devastated lives after the fact of such projects and to offer their support. The lessons are being absorbed here by the majority of people in La Barra.

Internationally respected environmental lawyers and ecologists are available to help. This may be a surprise for the powers that be, but it looks like La Barra is not going to just 'sell out' or take this passively. Though of course there will be a few who will sell...they won't matter. I say this not just as a reflection of my personal feelings, but after speaking with many of my neighbors and observing the meeting yesterday and the response of the people there.

By the way, the situation here is different than the history of Troncones. Troncones was ejido land. Many members of local ejidos often are not living on and working their land these days. Often ejido members in this area have long left the ejido project and are making their living elsewhere. That is the case in the ejidos I have had had contact with locally where they sometimes see their ejido parcel as an investment. Troncones ejido members decided to sell. You cannot be sure that those living in the settlement behind the beach there were even members of the ejido or if they were people who came later. As Lady M pointed out, it wasn't really a cohesive village community when the passing of the ejido to private property happened. It was mostly an empty beach. Another point to notice is that this project would devastate the area ecologically. The development in Troncones is very different in this regard - no pier, no dredging of an estuary, no putting three 18 hole golf courses on top of dunes and mangrove areas etc.... Apples and oranges.

La Barra is a cohesive community with a strong sense of community and history together bonded deeply to the land here. La Barra has never been an ejido. This is private property owned by the individual community members. The people of La Barra are connected by ownership and family to the enramada restaurants and have always had open access to the ocean and lagoon. It has been integral to their way of life and they have never shown interest in selling it (with the exception of a very few who represent special circumstances).

A very few are just getting older and tired of being fishermen and already own land elsewhere. They mistakenly believe that the misery payment they'll get will be plenty to start a new life there.

Recognizing the mistake in believing the government's talk of economic benefit to locals is not paternalistic but realistic. How can they see something they have never experienced?...How can they apply planning tools they have never had occasion to learn? They are unable to balance their long term planning view sometimes because of lacking reference points so many take for granted when they have enjoyed relatively advanced quality education and experience in such things. To deny the difference is in fact either naive or in some cases may be manipulative. In fact the very existence of ejidos is due to the recognition of this reality and was meant to protect the peasants from quickly losing their land after the agrarian reform laws passed it to them after the revolution. Any review of studies done to learn of what happens to communities displaced by mega-projects will show you that the norm is just as Rob described...devastated lives, quick loss of the misery payment, poverty, immersion in alcoholism, drug addiction, divorce etc.

Those who organized the effective resistance in Zihua, the federation of fishing coops, nationally recognized biologists and other scientists, nationally respected architects and experienced and respected environmental lawyers and ecologists are all offering their support La Barra. With all this support and with the attitudes of deep love for this place and this community, the cohesion, strength and skills of the people of the community of La Barra, I believe this will not be an easy ecocide on the part of fonatur. Perhaps it might even be stopped this time.

The support of the people of this forum and all who lurk it...accessing the invaluable information here to plan your trips... will also be of great importance. Please express your views about such a development and about the importance of saving La Barra! This highly trafficked forum is read.

Hasta pronto,
Casa del Encanto B&B Barra de Potosi

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