By Agustín Bravo Gaxiola*

After a series of successful actions defending northwestern Mexico’s environment during the final year of the previous presidential administration, el Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA) [the Mexican Center for Environmental Law] stated that civil  society was ready to work with authorities of the new federal government, and especially with Juan José Guerra Abud, the new head of SEMARNAT (the Environmental and Natural Resources Secretariat).

Gustavo Alanís, the director general of CEMDA, wished the new official every success and stated: “Mexico’s social and environmental challenges are enormous and the interests that sometimes have to be confronted are very powerful. We are confident that the new official will show sensitivity in working with civil society and will put the national interest and the protection of our country’s natural resources above any secondary objective”.

CEMDA has 19 years experience, and Alanís has just started his second term as a volunteer member of the Public Consultative Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America, demonstrating his commitment to citizen participation in decision making concerning the environment and development.

In a statement of December 1, 2012, Alanís pointed out the challenges facing the new administration, stating that CEMDA, in conjunction with other organizations working for years on environmental issues, have prepared a document, México rumbo a la sustentabilidad, 40 propuestas para la administración federal 2012-2018 [Mexico on the road to sustainability, forty proposals for the 2012-2018 federal administration]. This document identifies specific environmental actions on which they hope the new government will immediately begin work in order to stop the degradation and depletion of the nation’s ecosystems.

In northwestern Mexico, where there are numerous challenges, 2012 was a year when CEMDA and similar organizations had many successes, mainly as a result of public consultations where environmentally harmful proposals were soundly rejected.

They didn’t just tighten the screws until Canadian and American investors finally withdrew the proposal they had submitted to SEMARNAT for the Los Cardones mining project, located in the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve and the only source for recharging the freshwater aquifers and oases in Baja California Sur. They also lobbied until the President’s administration criticized SEMARNAT for giving the green light to Spanish investors in the giant Cabo Cortés development project which would have degraded Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park, the only coral reef in Northwest Mexico.

SEMARNAT stated that the development company, La Ribera, had withdrawn their permit application for the development project Los Pericúes in Cabo Pulmo, “which was actually a rehash of the mega complex Cabo Cortés,” according to Greenpeace México in an August 31 statement.

Greenpeace took this opportunity to demand "respect for the rights of the communities and the use of mandatory public consultations as a resource when dealing with future projects in any region of the country.”

Grassroots Bulletin on Sustainable Development in Northwest Mexico
Baja California Sur
Home | Index | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 1112 | 1314  Español

The Marina Esperanto project, one of a number of projects that withdrew their applications due to lack of public consultation. (Map: Manifiesto de Impacto Ambiental Desarrollo Náutico Marina Esperanto))
Insistence on Public Participation to Hopefully
Demonstrate Path to Sustainable Tourism
On September 4, CEMDA celebrated SEMARNAT’s refusal to authorize the Esperanto Marina project in La Paz Bay, the state’s capital city. It not only threatened endangered species but called for a jetty that would have obstructed the view to the sea for over a mile along the malecón, or boardwalk. Permission for the project was denied in the context of the need for public consultation.

On September 18, CEMDA and La Asociación de Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos y su Hábitat announced the cancellation of Entre Mares, a project of Deutsche Bank Mexico and its director Agustín Olachea, also President the La Paz hotel and tourism businesses association.

Entre Mares planned to build the equivalent of 6,840 hotel rooms on 963 acres, an 18-hole golf course, and a 400-berth marina.

The federal administrative tax court ruled in favor of CEMDA’s argument that the project could damage at-risk species such as the California sea lion, coyote, gray fox, and raccoon, due to the project’s
proposed site lying within the protected mangrove forest of the El Mogote peninsula, adjacent to La Paz.

Access to the project would have been via an access road, initially built illegally by the neighboring project Paraiso del Mar and also promoted by Olachea, but which had been closed by order of Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), as the work did not have proper environmental impact authorization and had operated illegally.

These organizations, together with Tiburón Ballena México and ConCiencia, declared: "tourism is necessary in Baja California Sur, however it should be done responsibly and based on sustainable development. Therefore we will continue defending natural resources when they are affected in this way."

*Lawyer for CEMDA, northwest region

Guerrero Negro logo