New Film Gives Voice to the People of Costa Rica's Río Pacuare

The following is a guest blog by geographer Denielle Perry from Amigos del Pacuare. 

Troubled Waters: Costa Rica’s Río Pacuare

Río Pacuare in Costa Rica
Río Pacuare in Costa Rica
Amigos del Rio Pacuare

The time has come to move forward with plans to permanently protect the Río Pacuare. For decades the Cabecar Indians that live in the Río Pacuare basin have worried about whether their lands will one day be submerged under a series of dams and reservoirs, changing their way of life forever. For 15 years the group, Amigos del Río Pacuare, has worked to ensure that those dams will never come to pass. In 2005, in a plebiscite (a constitutionally recognized mechanism for citizens to make decisions about their communities) the people of Turrialba voiced their desires to save this river in a landslide vote – 97% said “No” to any dams on the Río Pacuare. Since then, the citizens of Costa Rica have waited for the government to designate the famed river a national park or national monument. Today, 10 years later, instead of celebrating on the river, which is rated as one of the “Top 5” in the world by National Geographic, locals are worried as chainsaws cut trees and heavy machinery moves in on the river banks that should otherwise be off limits to any development. We are hopeful that the new government administration, under President Luis Guillermo Solís, will finally make the permanent protection of this river a reality with a national monument designation.

“Troubled Waters: Costa Rica’s Río Pacuare” was filmed on the premise that the people whose lives are most influenced by the Río Pacuare and those already impacted by dams should tell the story. During this 40 minute journey through the splendid river canyon and its riparian communities, key interviews with Cabecar Indians, whitewater boaters, politicians, activists, and energy company representatives illuminate the many issues surrounding the standoff between permanent protection and dam development on the Río Pacuare.

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Monday, May 4, 2015