06/05/2011 Stop the Patagonian Megadams

Stop the Patagonian Megadams

Environment, Human Rights, Science and Technologies, 06/05/2011

Juan Pablo Orrego (Chile, RLA 1998) visited Stockholm and the RLA office during the last days. He is traveling through Europe to campaign for support to stop the construction of five hydroelectric power stations in Chilean Patagonia. The Patagonia Defence Council, a growing coalition of about 70 organizations from different countries tries to protect the environment of Patagonia and is in urgent need of funding.

Patagonia has a high rate of biodiversity, is one of the world’s major freshwater reserves and its unique landscapes have been proposed to UNESCO for a Natural World Heritage status. In addition, the massive earthquake in Chile in February 2011 showed the seismic and flooding risks inherent in the project. The decision to construct the dams will most likely be taken next week.

Juan Pablo Orrego attended the annual shareholder meeting of Enel, the Italian energy company who owns the water rights on the rivers in question. He got no more  than 2.5 minutes speaking time and was at all times followed by policemen carrying guns.

Read more about his experiences at the meeting here (in Spanish).

Manfred Max-Neef (Chile, RLA 1983) also supports the campaign against the HidroAysén mega dams in Patagonia. He wrote an open letter to the Chilean President, asking him if he was willing to approve – with a clear conscience – of a decision being made under his presidency which will have a devastating environmental, social and cultural outcome.

Read the letter here (in Spanish).