By Probe International

PRESS RELEASE: Probe International slams CIDA secrecy

August 29, 2001

Probe International demands the release of a CIDA-financed environmental assessment of Belize’s proposed Chalillo dam.

Maria Minna, Canada’s minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency, is defending a secretive assessment of Belize’s proposed Chalillo dam, says Probe International in a letter sent to the minister today.

Probe International and citizens’ groups in Belize, Canada, and the United States are demanding release of a CIDA-financed environmental assessment of the Chalillo dam. But the minister says more studies are needed before any reports can be released.

“This is just a stalling tactic designed to leave as little time as possible for the public to challenge [the proponents’] analysis,” says Probe International. Belize Electricity Limited plans to start construction of the dam early next year.

Part of CIDA’s assessment was completed in March but the agency contends that it has no legal obligation to release it.

By withholding this assessment, CIDA is prohibiting public oversight of the project and denying the citizens of Belize the information they need to participate in decisions affecting them, says Probe International.

Opposition to the Chalillo dam is growing worldwide because it threatens one of Central America’s few remaining undisturbed rainforest habitats. If completed, the 35-metre high dam would flood several ancient Maya heritage settlements and habitat for endangered species including the scarlet macaw, jaguar, tapir, howler monkey, and freshwater crocodile.

To read the full-text of Probe International’s August 28th letter to the Minister for International Cooperation, go to:

For more information, please contact:

Grainne Ryder, Policy Director
Probe International
225 Brunswick Ave, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2M6, Canada
Tel: 1 (416) 964-9223 (ext. 228) Fax: (416) 964-8239

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