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Two Decades Under Windmills: Energy Transition and Entrenched Inequalities in La Venta, Mexico
This paper seeks to analyse the process through which wind energy expansion has exacerbated patterns of rural inequality in La Venta, Mexico, the site of the first wind energy project in Latin America, established in 1994. Inequalities have arisen between landowners, and between landowners and landless people. Concerning landowners, wind energy rents have increased patterns of inequality among them because the wind industry reinforced long-standing inequalities in land ownership established with the foundation of the ejido—land that was collectively redistributed after the Mexican Revolution. In relation to landless people, they have been affected by a boom in the urban economy during the construction stage of the wind farms and a bust once the operational phase began, and by new kinds of exploitation resulting from non-agricultural labour. By analysing data on de-regularized landownership in the ejido and by drawing on fieldwork interviews, the paper shows that land has been concentrated in a few hands and that there has been a gradual productive shift from agriculture to cattle grazing activities. Asymmetric wind energy rents not only reinforce this trend but also result in different material and social relationships associated with wind energy, with actors benefiting from it in various ways—or not benefitting at all.
At the moment of publication, Gerardo A. Torres Contreras was a final year doctoral researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, Brighton (UK). He worked on the social impacts of wind farms in the global South. He explored land struggles, resistance and processes of social differentiation resulting from renewable energy projects in Mexico. He previously obtained a licenciatura in Political Science at National Autonomous University of Mexico and an MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford, UK. He has worked with Oxfam on issues of inequality and wellbeing in Mexico.
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Pub. Date: 27 Aug 2020
ISBN: 978 92 9085 114 1