Troubled winds from the South: The impact of large-scale wind energy projects on indigenous communities in Oaxaca
Abstract: The expansion of large-scale wind energy projects in the name of climate change mitigation has led to numerous social conflicts in Oaxaca. The Mexican government has put forward environmental policies that envision 35% of the national electricity to be generated by renewable sources in 2024. The urgency to achieve these climate change goals has been used to favor corporate projects that have been accused of unfair distribution of benefits and neocolonial practices against indigenous communities. I use Schlosberg’s (2004) theory of environmental justice to investigate the different perspectives of justice within local communities that have seen the development of multiple wind farms. I find that there has been marginalization and exclusion because the repeated privatization of land has favored companies that look for a ‘greener’ growth, using the environmentalist narrative for development. Also, with the help of financial institutions and State-backed energy policies, projects have extended at the expense of the communities’ economic activities, human rights and cultural values. The interaction with diverse stakeholders in the field helped me broaden the perspective of the local stakeholders concerning ongoing conflicts and the social impacts of these projects. Moreover, I highlight the injustices that have led local leaders to use social movements as a pathway to a more democratic energy future that adjusts to the needs of the huave and zapoteco communities without compromising their well-being.
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