March 4, 2014. Source: Guatemala Solidarity Project
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
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
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
February 20, 2014. Source: Center for International Environmental Law
Demonstrators demand the nullification of a Barro Blanco environmental impact study. Photo: Arnoldo Zeballos | El Siglo
Environmental and human rights organizations submitted an urgent appeal to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on behalf of members of the indigenous Ngöbe community – the community faces imminent forced eviction from their land for the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam project in western Panama. The eviction would force Ngöbe communities from their land, which provides their primary sources of food and water, means of subsistence, and culture.
The urgent appeal, submitted by the Ngöbe organization Movimiento 10 de Abril para la Defensa del Rio Tabasará (M10) and three international NGOs, the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), and Earthjustice, asks the Special Rapporteurs to call upon the State of Panama to suspend the eviction process and dam construction until it complies with its obligations under international law. Given that the project is financed by the German and Dutch development banks (DEG and FMO, respectively) and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the groups also urge the Special Rapporteurs to call on Germany, the Netherlands, and the member States of CABEI to suspend financing until each country has taken measures to remedy and prevent further violations of the Ngöbe’s human rights. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water
February 18, 2014. Source: NISGUA
Cultivated fields that would be flooded by the Xalalá dam. Photo: NISGUA
Nearly two years after the Guatemalan government announced its renewed interest in constructing the Xalalá Hydroelectric Dam, communities maintain strong opposition to the project in the three affected municipalities: Ixcán, Uspantán, and Cobán.
The Xalalá Hydroelectric Dam was first proposed in the 1970s. Declared of “national interest,” it figured prominently in the Master Plan for National Electrification and the Northern Transversal Strip (FTN), a political-economic vision for land use, industrialization, and natural resource exploitation. If constructed, the Xalalá Dam would be the second largest hydroelectric dam in the country, producing an estimated 181 megavolts and flooding the lands of some 58 communities in three municipalities.
Community opposition consolidated after the 2007 community consultation held in the municipality of Ixcán, in which more than 90% of the population rejected the construction of hydroelectric dams such as Xalalá. In 2009, the municipality of Uspantán followed suit, holding a community consultation in which 90% of their population also rejected the construction of hydroelectric dams. Continue reading
February 11, 2014. Source: Radio Mundo Real
“They are going to flood us,” fear the inhabitants that protested the dam. Photo: AVC Noticias
In Veracruz, to the South of Mexico, there are plans to build 112 dams and 6 hydroelectric power plants without authorization by communities, who in the past weeks have mobilized in different municipalities of La Antigua River basin and managed to get the government to intervene throught an inspection of Odebrecht construction company, whose works could cause flooding in several territories.
In addition to not having authorization from the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), La Antigua dam will be built in an area where there is a seismic fault and therefore it would be a time bomb for the communities living by La Antigua River and other tributaries.
The inhabitants of the region had access four years ago to documents expressing the intention to building this dam by the Brazilian multinational construction company, although they did not obtain information from official sources.
Even today, with the company established in the area and carrying out exploration activities, which have already accumulated materials by the riverbed, risking the population of Jalcomulco, Apazapan, La Antigua, Paso de Ovejas, Emiliano Zapata, Teocelo, Xico and Ixhuacán de los Reyes, totaling 1.2 million people, the Evironment and Natural Resources Secretariat (SEMARNAT) of the Mexican Union stated that “there is no project” since there hasn’t been a request for an environmental impact assessment. Continue reading
By Emily Jovais, February 3, 2014. Source: International Rivers
Photo: Patagonia Sin Represas
On January 30, after two years of waiting, the Comité de Ministros (Committee of Ministers) dealt a substantial setback to the project. The Committee announced its highly-anticipated decision to NOT rule on appeals to HidroAysén’s environmental approval. Instead, the Committee requested additional studies to evaluate the impacts of the dams.
The Committee of Ministers – the highest administrative authority in Chile – reviewed 34 appeals related to the 2,750-megawatt energy project and identified two areas where more investigation is needed – the hydrological impacts on the two rivers on which the five dams would be built, and the impacts the migration of 5,000 construction workers to the region will have on Aysén. These studies will determine daily water flow if the dams become operational and will include an assessment of the project’s potential impact on surrounding glaciers.
“This delay is a strong sign that HidroAysén will not be a part of Chile’s energy future,” said Amanda Maxwell, our colleague in the Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia (CDP) from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Continue reading
February 3, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
Photo: Klamazon Delegation
Orleans, CA – Local youth are making plans to travel to Brazil to lend a hand in the fight against the world’s most destructive dam proposal, Belo Monte. The Belo Monte Dam Resistance Delegation includes indigenous tribes and river activists from Northern California who will travel to Brazil to work with indigenous people in the Xingu basin, the heart of the Amazon, making a strong bond through mutual efforts to preserve and protect inherited cultures and natural resources from short sighted projects like the Belo Monte Dam.
The Belo Monte project, would be the third largest hydroelectric dam ever built. This project would affect 40,000 people and inundate 640 square kilometers of rainforest. Belo Monte Dam is the first step in a larger plan to extract the Amazon’s vast resources through additional dam building.
Belo Monte is one of many dams proposed for the Amazon that would affect hundreds of thousands of indigenous people, including some of the world’s last un-contacted tribes, allowing further destructive mining and deforestation practices. The Amazon Basin, about the size of the continental U.S., is home to 60 percent of the world’s remaining rainforest, and holds one-fifth of the world’s fresh water. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Water, Youth
By Mario Osava, January 22, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service
Xokó chief Lucimario Lima searches for new livelihoods for his people, after the Itaparica dam on the São Francisco river cut them off from traditional agriculture and fishing. Credit: Mario Osava/IPS
FOZ DO IGUAÇU/PAULO AFONSO, Brazil – The Itaparica hydroelectric power plant occupied land belonging to the Pankararu indigenous people, but while others were compensated, they were not. They have lost land and access to the São Francisco river, charge native leaders in Paulo Afonso, a city in northeastern Brazil.
“We can no longer eat fish, but the worst loss was that of the sacred waterfall where we celebrated religious rites,” chief José Auto dos Santos told IPS.
Nearly 200 kilometres downriver, the Xokó indigenous community suffers from low water flow, the result of the large dams that have eliminated the regular seasonal rises in river level of the São Francisco, making it impossible to cultívate rice in the floodplains as before and drastically reducing the fish catch.
Similar effects are feared on the Xingú river in the Amazon, where the Belo Monte hydropower plant will divert some of the water in the stretch known as Volta Grande (Big Bend), affecting the native Juruna and Arara peoples. Continue reading
By Jennifer Kennedy, January 16, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry
The Chan 75 Dam. Photo: Richard Arghiris
Panama, a country the size of Ireland, is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Snaking between Costa Rica and Colombia the country is a verdant little isthmus with virgin rainforests, cloud and tropical dry forests, and mangroves, as well as 480 rivers. But, with over 80 more hydro projects slated for completion by 2016, 54 of which will be on just four river basins, dam development is compromising these rivers and the Indigenous communities which rely on them.
Touted as ‘clean energy,’ large dams (defined as being over 15 metres in height) are big business. There are now some 48,000 ‘large’ dams worldwide. According to a 2012 report inHydro World, dam and hydro markets have seen considerable growth since 2005 and predicts through to 2020 an annual growth between three and eight percent. From India to Brazil to Panama, dam development is seen as an answer to growing energy problems while being propagated as essential for economic growth. Hydro power constitutes approximately 54% of Panama’s total energy.
But, dam development has been met globally with fierce opposition from Indigenous and farming communities whose livelihoods depend upon rivers. In 1998, the World Commission on Dams (WCD) was created in response to repeated calls from anti-dam activists and NGOs for an independent review. Established by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the main aims of the WCD were to review the effectiveness of large dams and to develop universal criteria for their design, planning, and construction. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Water
By Lauren Carasik, January 7, 2014. Source: Al Jazeera America
Police officers detain a protester outside the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa in 2012. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
In remarks last month, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske decried pervasive impunity in Honduras as the single biggest threat to human rights during an International Human Rights Daycommemoration. In a country already plagued by grinding poverty and unrelenting violence, entrenched impunity does present a terrifying threat to justice. However, despite her own admission that the Honduran legal system is dysfunctional, Kubiske blamed those being oppressed by that impunity for taking the law into their own hands to defend their rights.
Kubiske specifically reproached peasant farmers in the fertile lands of the Lower Aguan Valley, who are engaged in a desperate struggle with local wealthy landowners and the government for control over their lands, which has left 113 members of their campesino community dead since the 2009 coup that overthrew democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya. Over the last two decades, campesinos lost the lands granted to them in the 1970s under agrarian reform initiatives through a combination of corruption, intimidation, intentional division, force and fraud. Efforts to seek legal redress were largely unsuccessful. Zelaya was ousted shortly after he vowed to institute measures that would reverse illegitimate land grabs by oligarchs, including Miguel Facusse Barjum, a palm-oil magnate.
When land grabs continued under President Porfirio Lobo, a landowner, the campesinos, with no other options, resisted the encroachment by peacefully occupying their lands. State security and paramilitary forces responded with escalating repression and bloodshed. Last month, after a complaint lodged by Rights Action, an international human-rights organization, the World Bank’s independent auditor issued a report on its private lending arm’s funding for Dinant Corp., which is headed by Facusse Barjum. World Bank President Jim Kim has indicated that he is preparing an action plan in response to the findings. As the investigative process drags on, repression continues unabated in the Lower Aguan.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, World Bank