Growing Public Opposition to HidroAysen in Chile

Berklee Lowrey-Evans

Today marks the close of the comment period for the public agencies to submit their observations on the third and final addenda to the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the HidroAysén project. This means that the Environmental Review Commission could approve or deny the project as early as tomorrow, although they have until May 16, 2011 to do so.

Last week, a new poll was released by Ipsos that shows that Chileans are increasingly opposed to building dams in Patagonia.

Public opposition to Patagonian dams was at its lowest point two years ago; in April of 2009, only 31.9% of Chileans were against the dams. By April 2011, that figure has almost doubled - 61.1% of the population in Chile is against building dams in the Aysén region of Patagonia!

It should come as no surprise then that tomorrow April 26, Chileans will head out into the streets to show their opposition to HidroAysén and call for the Environmental Review Commission to not give approval for the project. (Exact times and locations can be found below.) While there is a strong culture taking protests into the streets, most demonstrations are about social issues such as the poor eduction system and the infamous annual parade on the anniversary of the September 11, 1973 coup against President Allende.

The campaign against HidroAysén is one of the most widely known environmental issues in the country today, and has been truly revolutionary in its ability to catalyze a movement in opposition to a destructive development project. While most Chileans will probably never be able to visit Patagonia (it's very far and rather expensive to get to from Santiago), this campaign has been extremely effective at increasing awareness in the country about the beauty of the region and the need to protect it as a part of their cultural patrimony.

If you would like to help support the movement in Chile against this destructive and unnecessary project, please take action now and send letters to various members of the Chilean government. The names of action takers will be used to create a petition which will be presented to various offices of the Chilean government tomorrow, include the one a group from the Bay Area will present to the Chilean consulate in San Francisco, CA.

Stay tuned for a report-back the outcome of the protests on the 26th and the decision of the Environmental Review Commission.

More information: 

Here is the info for the various protests happening (mostly) on the 26th:

SANTIAGO 18:30 hrs, Plaza Argentina (Alameda con Teatinos)
LA SERENA 18:30 hrs, Plaza de Armas
VALPARAÍSO 18:30 hrs, Plaza Sotomayor
RANGUA 18:30 hrs, Plaza de Armas
TALCA 19:00 hrs, Plaza de Armas
CHILLÁN 19:00 hrs, Plaza de Armas
CONCEPCIÓN 19:00 hrs, Plaza Perú (U. de Concepción)
TEMUCO 14:00 hrs, Plaza Dagoberto Godoy (Plaza Hospital)
VALDIVIA 11:30 hrs, Terminal de buses
OSORNO 18:30 hrs, Plaza de Armas frente a Gobernación
PUERTO MONTT 17:30 hrs, Plaza de Armas
COYHAIQUE 16:30 hrs, Plaza de Armas
PUERTO AYSÉN, Sábado 30 de abril, 17:00 hrs, Plaza Mahuen