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News > Mexico

Mexico: Energy Plant Vote Wins, Activists Call It 'Rigged'

  • President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) during Mexico's presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico Jul. 1, 2018

    President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) during Mexico's presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico Jul. 1, 2018 | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 February 2019

Activists against a thermal plant in Mexico say the vote on the project that won with 59.9% was 'illegal and rigged'. AMLO says it is necessary for energy sovereignty.  

Grandson of revolutionary General Emiliano Zapata, Jorge Zapata Gonzalez is calling the thermoelectric plant referendum that took place in three Mexican states “illegal and rigged” saying President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) already knew the results before they were announced Monday morning.

Mexico: Protesters Burns Ballots Protesting Energy Plant

They knew "they were going to get" the Integral Morelos Project (PIM) approved by popular vote, said Zapata. The consultation "was illegal and rigged in favor of the Federal Electricity Commission and not in favor of the people of those directly affected," pronounced the activists from Ayala in Central Morelos state.

On Feb. 23 and 24 the AMLO administration held a two-day referendum in the central states of Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala, allowing voters to decide whether or not they want the government to move ahead with the PIM, a major infrastructure initiative that includes the construction of two thermoelectric plants, a gas pipeline and an aqueduct to be built in central Morelos.

AMLO announced Monday morning that voters approved the initiative, 59.5 percent to 40.1. A mere 0.1 percent of voters cast a null vote.

But these numbers don’t tell the entire story.

On Saturday, residents to be most affected by the potential thermoelectric plants in Central Morales burned ballot boxes to protest the project saying that the energy plants would contaminate and siphon off their irrigation water from the Cuautla River. In Ayala, the ‘No’ vote won, 2,248 to 148. In total, 11,295 people voted against the PIM, and 4,975 voted against it in central eastern Morelos, according to Desinformemonos media outlet.

The results of the participatory exercise for the PIM and Huexca thermoelectric plant are as follows: 55,715 citizens participated -Yes 59.5% -No 40.1% -Null 0.1%  The dialogue continues; @GobiernoMX and the people looking for solutions democratically.

Government officials failed to even install polls in certain parts of the state, including Amilcingo where anti-PIM activist Samir Flores Soberanes was shot in the head by two unknown gunmen two days before the referendum. The 30-year old Indigenous Nahuatl was a prominent member of the anti-PIM initiative, the People's Front in Defense of Land and Water for Morelos, Puebla, and Tlaxcala (FPDTA-MPT), and who had been vocal in his opposition to the plants ever since they were proposed in 2011.  

President Lopez Obrador reiterated Monday that without the energy plants, the state would have to buy energy from abroad as he did during a Feb. 11 speech where he also criticized anti-PIM protesters as “radical leftists.”

While announcing the referendum numbers the head of state said that construction on the plants will begin this year.  

However, Zapata as well as other FPDTA-MPT members aren’t giving up their fight against the mega projects.

"This is just beginning," said Juan Carlos Flores said FPDTA-MPT member Monday. Carlos, who has been imprisoned in Puebla for several months for opposing the PIM, said he is preparing to file a complaint with international bodies "against this illegal and illegitimate consultation."

This is the latest public referendum put forth by the AMLO administration regarding major and controversial public works throughout Mexico. Critics of the votes say the president is using his current high popularity to gain support for these referenda.

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