Category Archives: Hydroelectric dams

Ngäbe-Buglé challenge constitutionality of land seizures, protest camps targeted by high-powered lamps

By Robin Llewellyn, April 9, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

ngabe1

All photos by Robin Llewellyn

The controversial Barro Blanco dam project will face another challenge today when the Cacica Silvia Carrera presents a demand of unconstitutionality before Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice regarding Law 18, passed on March 26, 2013.

With Article 127 of the Panamanian Constitution protecting collective ownership of lands and prohibiting private ownership of indigenous territories, Law 18 was rushed into place by President Ricardo Martinelli to allow the legal appropriation of collective lands, particularly lands held by the Ngäbe communities of Nuevo Palomar, Kiad, and Quebrada Caña. All three communities face land seizures as a result of the dam’s construction.

Genisa, the Panamanian company developing Barro Blanco, initially argued that no land within the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca would be affected by the 28.85 MW dam project; but then claimed that the indigenous communities had consented to the dispossession of their territories. The project has been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Dutch state development bank FMO, and the German development bank DEG.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, UNFCCC, World Bank

How Indigenous communities in Honduras are resisting US-backed multinationals

By Beverly Bell, April 2, 2014. Source: The Nation

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

Members of a Lenca indigenous community protest against the planned construction of a dam in Honduras. Photo: AP Photo/Edgard Garrido

“Screw the company trying to take our river, and the government. If I die, I’m going to die defending life.” So said María Santos Dominguez, a member of the Indigenous Council of the Lenca community of Rio Blanco, Honduras.

April 1 marks one year since the Rio Blanco community began a human barricade that has so far stopped a corporation from constructing a dam that would privatize and destroy the sacred Gualcarque River. Adults and children have successfully blocked the road to the river with their bodies, a stick-and-wire fence and a trench. Only one of many communities fighting dams across Honduras, the families of Rio Blanco stand out for their tenacity and for the violence unleashed upon them.

The Honduran-owned, internationally backed DESA Corporation has teamed up with US-funded Honduran soldiers and police, private guards and paid assassins to try to break the opposition. Throughout the past year, they have killed, shot, maimed, kidnapped and threatened the residents of Rio Blanco. The head of DESA, David Castillo, is a West Point graduate. He also served as former assistant to the director of military intelligence and maintains close ties with the Honduran Armed Forces.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Political Repression

US energy consumption, CO2 emissions up in 2013, new analysis shows

Note: More renewable energy.  More fossil fuels.  More CO2 emissions.  In America (sic), we just want more of everything, planet be damned!

-The GJEP Team

April 2, 2014. Source: ScienceDaily

Natural Gas, frackingAmericans used more renewable, fossil and even nuclear energy in 2013, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Each year, the Laboratory releases energy flow charts that illustrate the nation’s consumption and use of energy.Overall, Americans used 2.3 quadrillion thermal units more in 2013 than the previous year.

The Laboratory also has released a companion chart illustrating the nation’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Americans’ carbon dioxide emissions increased to 5,390 million metric tons, the first annual increase since 2010.
Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Hydrofracking, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Nuclear power, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Hydroelectric dams, Oil

Are Brazil’s dams to blame for record floods in Bolivia?

By Emily Achtenberg, March 31, 2014. Source: NACLA

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

In recent months, Bolivia’s Amazonian region has experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities are under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Economic losses from the death of 250,000 livestock heads and destruction of seasonal crop lands, estimated at $180 million, are mounting daily.

While seasonal flooding is common in Beni, experts agree that climate change has added a threatening new dimension to the cyclical pattern, bringing record rainfall to most of Bolivia this year. Deforestation, exploitation of cultivable land, and loss of infrastructure through the breakup of traditional communities are other factors contributing to soil erosion and increased vulnerability to flooding.

In the past weeks, attention has focused on the role played by two recently-inaugurated Brazilian mega-dams—the Jirau and the San Antonio—in Bolivia’s floods. Located on the Madeira River, the largest tributary of the Amazon which receives its waters from rivers in Bolivia and Peru, the dams are just 50 and 110 miles, respectively, from Brazil’s Bolivian border. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Latin America-Caribbean, Water

Panama: Ngöbe-Buglé Step Up Fight Against Dam

April 1, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

Silvia Carrera, the traditional leader (cacica) of Panama’s indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé, announced on March 30 that she would present an appeal the next day to the Supreme Court of Justice concerning land expropriated for the controversial Barro Blanco dam. She said this would be part of a legal action against Law 18. Passed on March 26, 2013, the law allows the Public Services Authority (ASEP) to expropriate, evict and indemnify the population living beside the Tabasará river in the western province of Chiriquí, where the dam is being built. According to Ngöbe-Buglé activists, some 3,000 people will be relocated because of the project, which is now said to be 64% complete.

The Ngöbe-Buglé have been protesting the construction of the dam for the past two years. They insist that since the project is in their own designated territory (comarca), construction should not have been started without first holding a referendum of the indigenous group’s members. In a television interview on Feb. 11, Silvia Carrera charged that the government of rightwing Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli had failed to respond to indigenous concerns because it has interests in common with Generadora del Istmo, S.A. (GENISA), the Honduran-owned company building the dam. Martinelli responded by charging that the Ngöbe-Buglé were playing electoral politics.

Meanwhile, protesters have set up barricades and a camp at the dam’s construction site in an effort to block the work. The April 10 Movement, an indigenous community group that is independent of the traditional leadership, announced it would publicize information on attacks on human rights and environmental damage in the territory with the goal of stopping the dam. (Adital, Brazil, March 27; Prensa Latina, March 30)

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples

Innu renew resistance to proposed Plan Nord and Hydro-Quebec expansion

Note: The following is a press release from Innu resisting Hydro-Quebec’s plans to construct transmission lines through their territory.  Much of the expansion of Hydro-Power in Innu territory is part of the North Plan/Plan Nord, and a share of the energy is destined for markets in New England, where several governor’s are selling it as “green” energy.

From Alexis: The Band council has decided that it is not going to fight HQ, so the community is back in action. HQ wants to hold a third referendum — because it doesn’t take NO for an answer. Please keep your ears tuned for future developments!

-The GJEP Team

March 31, 2014.  Translated by Alexis Lathem

Elyse Vollant, an Innu activist and grandmother, demonstrates against Hydro-Quebec during a major energy conference in Burlington, Vermont in 2012. Photo: Will Bennington

Elyse Vollant, an Innu activist and grandmother, demonstrates against Hydro-Quebec during a major energy conference in Burlington, Vermont in 2012. Photo: Will Bennington

The Innu of Uashat mak Mani- utenam will leave from the First Nations camp on Route 138, and march to Montagnaise Mall in remembrance of the March, 2012 march from ManiUtenam to Montreal, to denounce the abuses of the Government of Québec concerning the rights of the Innu. The march is scheduled to begin on Tuesday at 1pm.

“We march from war to peace. We carry the voice of the people of First Nations. We fight for the recognition of our rights, for the future of generations to come , for the brith of a just and equitable society . We walk to build a path for our children so they will have a better future, and so our long struggle for our land rights will be finally be won. “

We cry loudly against all destruction and violation of NITASSINAN. After two referendums, the Innu have answered NO to the Hydro –Québec, which continues to build the tranmission lines without our consent on the use of NITASSINAN .

We say NO TO THE NORTH PLAN . Quebec can not indefinitely ignore us. We demand the RESPECT OUR RIGHTS and JUSTICE in the name of our human rights and the rights of Indigenous People.

1 Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples

Honduras: Who should really be on trial for the Rio Blanco dam?

By Brigitte Gynther, March 19, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

María with her nephews.  Photo: Brigitte Gynther

María with her nephews. Photo: Brigitte Gynther

María Santos was walking home on March 5th, 2014, when seven people suddenly jumped out of hiding, surrounded her, and then attacked her with machetes, striking her head and chest. María has been a vocal leader in the struggle against the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Dam, defending the Lenca territory of Rio Blanco and the Gualcarque River for her children and grandchildren to come. She is an active member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH, Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras), and a tireless fighter in the struggle of the Lenca people of Rio Blanco to prevent DESA, a private dam company, from privatizing and building a dam on their river.

When María’s husband heard that she was surrounded, he and her 12-year-old son ran and found her. Her husband pleaded with the attackers not to kill her and her young son ran to his bleeding mother’s side. One of the attackers swung his machete down on the young boy, splitting his ear and part of his face. Her husband was also attacked. All three are seriously injured and had to be hospitalized. Doctors found that María’s son’s cranium was fractured.

María’s husband, Roque, had previously been attacked by several men as he was leaving the site where the community has physically blocked the dam company from accessing the river, and has been effectively preventing the construction of the dam for over a year.  Even though the identities of the men who attacked him are known, that crime has been left in complete impunity.  The collusion between powerful interests and the Honduran justice system means that the justice system routinely serves those interests and that attacks against those who stand for their rights are rarely brought to justice.  Before the most recent attack on her life, María had received numerous death threats for her vocal opposition to the dam, including threats from this same group of people who have now put her in the hospital. One Sunday evening, when María was walking to her house from the roadblock, a man came up her, took out a pistol, and threatened María, asking, “Do you want to be shot?”  None of these death threats have been investigated. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water

Animals see power lines as glowing, flashing bands, research reveals

By Damian Carrington, March 11, 2014. Source: The Guardian

UV vision help reindeers find plants in snow cover, but in the depths of winter their wide irises and sensitive eyes means the power lines appear particularly bright. Photo: Mark Bryan Makela/Corbis

UV vision help reindeers find plants in snow cover, but in the depths of winter their wide irises and sensitive eyes means the power lines appear particularly bright. Photo: Mark Bryan Makela/Corbis

Power lines are seen as glowing and flashing bands across the sky by many animals, research has revealed.

The work suggests that the pylons and wires that stretch across many landscapes are having a worldwide impact on wildlife.

Scientists knew many creatures avoid power lines but the reason why was mysterious as they are not impassable physical barriers. Now, a new understanding of just how many species can see the ultraviolet light – which is invisible to humans – has revealed the major visual impact of the power lines.

“It was a big surprise but we now think the majority of animals can see UV light,” said Professor Glen Jeffery, a vision expert at University College London. “There is no reason why this phenomenon is not occuring around the world.”

Dr Nicolas Tyler, an ecologist at UIT The Arctic University of Norway and another member of the research team, said: “The flashes occur at random in time and space, so the power lines are not grey and passive, but seen as lines of light flashing.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Hydroelectric dams

Guatemala: Q’eqchi’ dam opponents arrested despite murder of children

March 4, 2014. Source: Guatemala Solidarity Project

August 2013 funeral for children murdered by hydroelectric company hitmen.  Photo: Comité de Unidad Campesina

August 2013 service for children murdered by hydroelectric company hitmen. Photo: Comité de Unidad Campesina

The Guatemala Solidarity Project strongly condemns yesterday’s illegal arrest of community leader Jose Maria Guitz. Guitz is among thousands of indigenous q’eqchi’ peasants organizing against the threatened construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam. The dam would cause massive environmental damage and rob land from dozens of q’eqchi’ communities.

Guitz runs one of the few health centers in the region, meaning his arrest will have a deep negative impact in the area. Guitz is a member of the community Monte Olivo of the municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz. The community has faced extreme repression for organizing in defense of their constitutional rights.

On August 14, 2013, environmentalist and community leader David Chen was threatened at gun point and narrowly escaped an attempted kidnapping. On August 23, 2013, 13 year-old Ageo Isaac Maas Guitz and 11-year-old David Estuardo Pacay Mass were murdered by an employee of Hidro Santa Rita SA. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Water

Burmese villagers exiled from ancestral home as fate of dam remains unclear

By Peter Hadfield, March 4, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Children looking at the Myitsone dam from the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Kachin state, Burma. Photograph: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Children looking at the Myitsone dam from the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Kachin state, Burma. Photograph: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA

Lapai Zoong kicks the red dirt outside his house and complains that nothing will grow. “The situation here is hopeless,” he says. “In the old village we used to grow rice, fruit and vegetables. We were happy. Here they bulldozed the land and there’s no soil. Everyone wants to go back to our old village.”

But 70-year-old Lapai is not allowed back to his ancestral home just 12 miles to the north, even though the massive dam that was going to flood the village is now in limbo.

The Myitsone dam project lies unfinished in Kachin state, northern Burma, caught in a tug of war between the Burmese government and a powerful Chinese corporation. Lapai, along with 12,000 other Kachin villagers, remain in exile as a political and military drama plays out over the fate of the dam.

It was a project conceived, financed and – so far partially – built by the state-owned Chinese Power Investment Corporation (CPI), to take electricity across the border and help industrialise the Chinese province of Yunnan. At 152 metres high and with a potential capacity of 6,000 MW of electricity, the Myitsone was to be the largest of seven dams at the headwaters of the Irrawaddy River. If completed, it will be the 15th largest dam in the world. But soon after work started in 2009, the project ran into trouble. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Land Grabs, Water