Feb 25th, 2008
According to a report by the Conservation Strategy Fund, a total of 406 dams are planned for construction in Mesoamerica, to generate a total of 16,000 MW of electricity. These dams will form part of the electrical interconnection grid called for in the Plan Puebla Panamá (PPP). Partial funding for these projects will come from the $12-billion INFRAFUND, set up by the Inter-American Development Bank to fund new infrastructure in the region.
In response to this assault on the rivers and people of Mesoamerica, the Honduran Black People’s Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) has released a statement of opposition to all new dams, particularly the planned Patuca hydroelectric dam. The Patuca dam would devastate the territories of the indigenous Tawahka y Miskito peoples; unsurprisingly, none of the affected communities have been consulted by the Honduran government. The dam would be operated by the Taiwan Power Company. The indigenous communities of the Patuca region are planning a consultation to decide on what action to take against the plans of the government and Taiwan Power. “Miskitos and Tawahkas will decide the future of their territories,” OFRANEH said.
In Costa Rica, the Térraba Indigenous Rights Defense Front officially declared its opposition to the planned Diquís hydroelectric dam. Planned for the southern region of the country, the dam would affect the territories of the indigenous Térraba, Chinakichá, Curré, Boruca, Ujarrás, Salitre and Cabagra peoples, none of whom have been consulted by the government. Indigenous groups are currently building alliances with farming, environmentalist and community groups to fight the dam.
In Panamá, a delegation from the UN’s World Heritage Centre and World Conservation Union (IUCN) is considering a petition to declare the La Amistad International Park a World Heritage site “in danger” due to plans for four hydroelectric dams in the region. The petition was submitted by a coalition of more than 30 conservation and indigenous organizations. The IUCN has sent a delegation to the area to investigate further.
Three of the four planned dams would be operated by the U.S.-based AES Corporation; one would be operated by the Colombian-owned Hidroecologica del Teribe, S.A. The dams threaten the territories of the indigenous Naso and Ngobe nations.
On January 3, police beat and imprisoned more than 50 Ngobe, who had been protesting the planned dams and the destruction of their village. Susana Serracin, a Panamanian lawyer assisting the Ngobe, has accused the government of “violating human rights by illegally accosting and incarcerating indigenous people in order to ‘clear’ the area to permit work on the hydroelectric dams to proceed.”