Stop the Illegal Construction of El Zapotillo Dam in Mexico

Target: President Felipe Calderón

Goal: Stop the construction of the El Zapotillo dam in Mexico that would destroy the environment and violate the human rights of the people living in the surrounding communities.

Three towns in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, near the Rio Verde are at risk of being flooded if the El Zapotillo dam is fully constructed. Community members have been protesting the dam construction since 2006 when it was first proposed by Mexico’s National Water Commission.  The dam would displace thousands of people and would be damaging to the environment. The Mexican government has ignored the pleas of the people as well as several laws and has continued with the construction of the dam.

If the El Zapotillo dam is fully constructed it would flood approximately 4,800 acres of land, which includes the towns of Temacapulín, Acasico and Palmarejo. Temacapulín is a historic town from the sixteenth century that would be underwater after the dam is built. The Institute of Anthropology and History declared that more than 70% of Temacapulín is of historic value. The flooding would also force 1,000 people, 3,000 including the seasonal population, from their homes. Not only would the community members lose their homes but also their farmland, water source and way of life. The government told the community that they would have to “leave their homes or drown.” The government promised the community that they could resettle in a new development, but then shut down construction of the new development. The families from these communities will suffer if they are evicted and displaced by the El Zapotillo dam.

The Mexican government has ignored laws, as well as six appeals, and has started construction of the dam. When the dam was first proposed, Governor Emilio Gonzalez Marques promised the community that if at least half of the population opposed the dam it would not be built. He has not kept his promise, as 98 percent of the population has made it clear that they are against the dam, yet construction continues. The community members were never consulted about the dam. They filed a right-to-information request but the government told them that the information was classified. A formal injunction was filed on the grounds of several law violations, but construction continued. The required land use, cultural heritage and environmental impact permits for the construction have not been obtained. Protesters have received death threats and were given citations when they blocked off entrance to the construction site. Community members held four roundtables with the Mexican government, but the government did not listen to the community’s concerns. The one promise the government made during the roundtables was to halt the legal process against protesters for the blockade, a promise which they have not upheld.

Tell the Mexican government that they cannot destroy these communities’ homes. Demand they respect human rights and the environment.


Dear President Calderón,

The illegal construction of the El Zapotillo dam in the Rio Verde must be stopped. The dam would flood three towns and displace thousands of Mexican families. The people of the town have been vocal in their opposition of the dam; I am asking that you listen to their pleas.

The dam would destroy the town of Temacuapulín, which has been declared to be of historic value. The dam would not only force thousands of families from their homes but it would also ruin their way of life. The culture of those three communities would be lost. Several laws have been ignored in order to construct El Zapotillo dam, including environmental impact permits. Community protestors have received death threats and their human rights have been violated.

If the El Zapotillo dam is fully constructed it would be an environmental disaster and a major human rights violation. We must work to protect nature and have the least environmental impact possible. The Mexican government must find alternative water sources that are not damaging. I demand that you preserve cultural heritage, ecology and human rights and halt the construction of El Zapotillo dam.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: International Rivers via Flickr

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