Chalillo Dam

Robert Kennedy Jr. to visit Belize: Mission to stop Canadian rainforest dam

Probe International – Press Release
December 17, 2001

Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will travel to Belize this week
to support citizens opposing a Canadian-backed hydro dam that will
drown a last rainforest refuge for Central American wildlife. Invited
by the Belize alliance of conservation groups (BACONGO), Kennedy will
meet with citizens downstream from the proposed Chalillo dam, Maya
Indian leaders, and local scientists, attorneys, conservation workers,
to bolster the growing campaign there to save the Macal River Valley
from Newfoundland-based Fortis, Inc. As majority owner of Belize’s
electricity monopoly, Fortis is pushing ahead with plans to build the
Chalillo dam in violation of Belize environmental law, says BACONGO.
The required public hearings on the dam’s environmental assessment have
not been held. Also, the dam’s environmental impact assessment,
prepared by AMEC of Montreal and financed by the Canadian government,
is inadequate and fails to meet Belize standards. Kennedy, an
environmental lawyer with the US-based Natural Resources Defense
Council, warns that the dam is an economic boondoggle. “A
billion-dollar multinational is trying to enrich its North American
shareholders at the expense of the people and environment of Belize:
this is the worst example of globalization.” Kennedy will take part in
a “Save the Macal River” canoe race and family fair, which is being
organized by riverside communities on Dec. 22, 2001. Kennedy will also
meet with government officials to appeal for a proper environmental
review in compliance with Belize law, and to promote sustainable
generating alternatives, such as biomass-fired cogeneration. Also
visiting Belize in the new year are Canadian activists Grainne Ryder of
Toronto-based Probe International and Newfoundland’s Greg Malone. If
completed, the Chalillo dam would destroy a 35-kilometre stretch of
unique river habitat, home to jaguars, tapirs, scarlet macaws, and
other rare species. The dam would also flood several ancient Maya
settlements. Mr. Kennedy will be in Belize from Dec. 19 to Dec. 23,
2001. To arrange an interview with Mr. Kennedy while in Belize,
CONTACT:
Tony Garel, Chairman, BACONGO, Belize, Tel. (501) 16 9689
Grainne Ryder, Probe International, Toronto, Canada, Tel. (416) 964 9223 ext.228
Ari Hershowitz, Natural Resources Defense Council, Washington DC, USA, Tel. (202) 289 2388

News of the visit will be posted at www.stopfortis.org.

Categories: Chalillo Dam, Odious Debts

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