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November 27, 2011

Dirty Development Deals Revealed in Baja California Sur, Mexico!

E-mails reveal potentially illegal agreements between Mexico's Ministry of the Environment and Spanish developers
Reporters of Baja Calfornia Sur covering the story: Community of Cabo Pulmo explains to UNESCO/RAMSAR Mission they don't trust the Mexican Government - because they gave permits to mega development Cabo Cortes! Credit: Wildcoast

In the ongoing saga of our efforts to save Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park from the mega-development Cabo Cortes, information has come to light that Mexico's Ministry of the Environment (SEMARNAT) informed the Spanish developers Hansa Urbana of a permit approval before it actually became public information. Both parties also agreed to “disassociate” themselves from one another in order to give “credibility” to the development approval process.

Through public information requests to the Ministry of Economy, Greenpeace Mexico was able to obtain written and electronic communications between Bruno Ferrari de Alba, Minister of Economy; Gustavo Hernandez Rodriguez, Technical Secretary to the Minister of Economy; Jose Alfonzo Lozano Garcia, Coordinator of Investment Projects for ProMexico (the Mexican Federal Government agency responsible for strengthening the participation of Mexico in the international economy); and Juan Rafael Elvira Quezada, Head of SEMARNAT, and all SEMARNAT information related to the Cabo Cortes development and the companies GRE-Hansa Baja Investments S de RL de CV and Hansa Urbana.

Interestinly enough, when Greenpeace also asked SEMARNAT for this same public information, the request was denied, and SEMARNAT eventually denied the existence of the information.

Among these communications lies a distinctive email from Feb. 25, 2011 between Jose Alfonso Lozano, Coordinator for Investment Projects of ProMexico and Luis Olive Hawley, also an official from ProMexico, which reveals that Rafael Galea, President of Hansa Urbana phoned the Head of SEMARNAT, Rafael Elvira Quesada, to know of the details about permits to his development project, Cabo Cortes. While Rafael Galea was not able to attend a meeting with Minister Elvira, Galea's son arrived at the meeting where they agreed to the following:

1. On a Monday the company (Hansa Urbana) would receive from SEMARNAT the permit for development.

2. On the same Monday, in the afternoon, Mauricio Limon – Undersecretary of Environmental Protection – and Luis Fueyo – Commissioner for the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas - would fly to Los Cabos so that on Tuesday, they could give a press conference announcing the permit authorization, emphasising that the Cabo Cortes project will comply with the law.

3. On Wednesday, the company (Hansa Urbana) would give its press conference on the same point, but clarifying that the conditions of the authorization have obligated the real estate group to have unexpected additional expenses, which will be an argument to distance itself from the Federal agency press conference given the previous day (credibility)….

To read this public document in spanish, please click here.

“From this e-mail it is evident there was an agreement between SEMARNAT and Hansa Urbana. SEMARNAT informed Hansa Urbana of their permit approval before it was public information. Point three of this email shows that Hansa Urbana would give a public reply showing it was affected economically, so as to give the perception of distancing itself from Semarnat. This shows a deception to the public” said Alejandro Olivera, Coordinator of the Campaign for Coasts and Oceans for Greenpeace.

“This deception was known by several officials, among them being the Minister of Economy and the Environment, Bruno Ferrari and Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, and the Head of ProMexico, Carlos Guzman Bofill. This is how politics work in this country: with total absence of transparency” added Olivera.

Notes: The authorization for Cabo Cortes was dated the 24th of January, 2011, which means that since January, SEMARNAT knew the details of the authorization and had agreed to a strategy with Hansa Urbana. However, SEMARNAT did not make the information public until the 1st of March, 2011 via a Press Conference.

Cabo Pulmo is a a beautiful place, that produces oxigen for the world thanks to its live coral. This National Marine Park is a congregation point for fish and is helping to recover the depleted fisheries of the Gulf of California. The park is an ecotourism hotspot and represents "the most robust marine reserve" thanks to 16 years of conservation by the Community of Cabo Pulmo. SAVING CABO PULMO IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.  SAY NO TO CABO CORTES! 

Your voice matters: please share this news with others and get involved by signing the petition to cancel permits for Cabo Cortes