Protest Against Patagonia Dams at SF Chilean Consulate on Friday


Media Advisory

May 19, 2011

Bay Area Chileans Show Their Opposition to HidroAysén Dams

San Francisco, CA - On May 20, scores of expat Chileans and Patagonian river lovers will hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the Chilean Consulate in San Francisco to protest the recent approval of a controversial dam project in Chile's Patagonia region.

The protest will be one of dozens taking place in Chile and around the world this weekend, which are timed to coincide with President Pinera's annual State of the Union speech on Saturday. Protests have been held in Chile every day since the HidroAysén project's approval on May 9.

Other protests will be held in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York, as well as in Canada, Australia, Europe and Latin America. An online action will encourage people to call Chilean embassies and consulates worldwide to express their concern for the recent police violence against protestors in Chile, and to demand that President Piñera follow the will of the majority of Chileans.

Says filmmaker María Jose Calderon, a Chilean national now living in Oakland:
"As a Chilean and a citizen of this planet, I'm very concerned that the Chilean government is using Chile's natural resources for the benefit of corporate interests at the expense of the environment and the people of Chile. To allow projects like HidroAysén - which 74% of Chileans oppose - to go ahead would be a catastrophe for Chile and would only encourage other environmentally irresponsible corporations to follow in their footsteps."

WHAT: Colorful and peaceful protest outside Chilean Consulate
WHEN: 8:30am, Friday May 20, 2011
WHERE: 870 Market St, San Francisco, CA

Background Information

The HidroAysén project would include five dams - three on the Pascua River and two on the Baker River - and would flood at least 5,600 hectares of globally rare forest ecosystems, river valleys and farmlands in the Aysén region of southern Chile, including a portion of the Laguna San Rafael National Park. With the dams' price tag rising - they are now expected to cost approximately US$3.2 billion - the total cost including transmission lines is estimated to be $7 billion. The project is being developed by Enel of Italy and Colbún of Chile. Financing is expected to come mainly from private investment banks in Chile, the US and Europe.

The next phase for the project is the Environmental Impact Assessment for the $3.8 billion, 2,300-km-long transmission lines needed to export the electricity from Patagonia to Santiago. The EIA process for the lines will likely prove to be even more difficult, as they would affect thousands of Chileans and require the world's longest clear-cut through virgin rainforest, protected areas, national parks, and a geologically risky region strewn with active volcanoes and afflicted by earthquakes.


Media contacts: