Source: IPS News Agency
by Diego Cevallos*
MEXICO CITY, May 6, 2006 (Tierramérica) - A wave of opposition is rising in Latin America against the construction of hydroelectric dams. In Guatemala, activists and residents recently blocked a multi-million-dollar project, while in Brazil, El Salvador, Chile, Honduras and Mexico, the fuse of conflict has been lit.
Across the region there are more than a thousand dams measuring 15 metres tall or more, generating 10 percent of the electricity consumed. Governments, backed by transnational corporations, plan to build more to curb their dependence on increasingly costly petroleum, which for now is the main source of energy.
The hydroenergy debate is intense. Although it is valued as a clean and renewable source of electricity that also permits regulation of water use, it is also criticised for its serious social and environmental impacts, arising from the displacement of people and destruction of habitat for the creation of reservoirs.
A referendum in Guatemala this month halted construction of three hydroelectric facilities in the Río Hondo community, located on a nature reserve in the country's east. Promoted by the government and by local, Italian and Canadian companies, the project costs were estimated at 100 million dollars.
Guatemala's Constitution Court validated the referendum results on Apr. 4. Voters rejected the hydroelectric project that would flood 6,000 hectares and threaten the livelihood of 20,000 people. […]
Please see for whole article: IPS News Agency