Sinaloa & Nayarit
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Farmers, aquaculturalists and fishers from El Rosario and Escuinapa meet to protect the aquifers that are being threatened by the construction of the Playa Espíritu CIP, a giant real estate development in Sinaloa promoted by Fonatur.
Active Citizenry Halts One of Calderon Administration’s Most Ambitious Projects
By Machángeles Carvajal*

Mexican president Felipe Calderon has reached the end of his six-year term without fulfilling one of the most ambitious goals of the federal government that inaugurated him in February 2009.

Marismas Nacionales, (The National Wetlands) is a place that stands out both at the national and international levels for its tremendous natural and cultural wealth. Its inhabitants, modest people from southern Sinaloa and north-central Nayarit, take pride in their delicious dishes made with a number of  species that live within the wetlands: tasty shrimp ceviche, delectable grilled sea bass and famous cocktails made with locally cultivated native oysters.

Nevertheless, these beautiful marshes, home to a great number of resident and migratory fauna and designated a “Ramsar Wetland of International Importance,”  is facing serious challenges. In addition to pollution, clear-cutting, and over-exploitation of the area, there are possible irreversible structural changes occurring as a result of the construction of large-scale projects.

One of the primary threats is the huge real estate tourism project Playa Espíritu Integrally Planned Center (CIP), formerly called the Costa Pacífico CIP, which is backed by Fonatur (the National Tourism Fund) and currently under construction in the town of Escuinapa, Sinaloa. Another impending threat is the Federal Electricity Commission’s  Las Cruces hydroelectric dam, which is fed by the San Pedro River, one of Mexico’s last free-flowing rivers.

Faced with such  adverse circumstances, more than 100 leaders of 30 communities in the area, trained by the Guaymas non-profit organization  Sumar—Voces por la Naturaleza, has launched a citizens’ campaign to determine the monetary value of the environmental services (activities, products and processes) that the National Wetlands and the San Pedro Mezquital River provide to the surrounding communities.

They are taking their message to students, fishermen, ranchers, aquaculturalists, and local authorities, with a direct audience of about 8700 people and an even greater number being reached via radio.

vicam logo
The campaign’s most recent action has been the formation in Sinaloa of the group Voces por el Agua, whose first objectives are the conservation of the fresh-water aquifers that give life to their economic activities as well as the redesign of the Playa Espíritu CIP.

This effort inspired another project to be undertaken by the people of Nayarit, who formed the Inter-Community Councils of the San Pedro River and the Indigenous Council. They have been working for at least two years with the goal of preserving sacred sites, and the success of their economic activities, which are dependent upon the San Pedro River having a permanent free flow.  Their slogan, now known internationally, is No a la presa Las Cruces (No to the Las Cruces Dam).

By organizing the campaign into three representative groups with precise objectives and demands, the inhabitants of The National Wetlands have created ever more awareness of the situation and of their historic responsibility.

Taking the reins of their present, they are uniting their voices and actions to preserve what gives them life and identity, now and in the future.

*Founding member, SuMar-Voces por la Naturaleza, A.C.

Grassroots Bulletin on Sustainable Development in Northwest Mexico