Canada Pension Plan

Majority of Chileans reject dams in Patagonia

Gary Graham Hughes
International Rivers
April 20, 2009

The latest public survey addressing the issue of the construction of hydroelectric mega-projects in the Aysén Region of the Chilean Patagonia shows that the Chilean public is clearly against the dams.

When asked “are you for or against the construction of hydroelectric dams in the Aysén Region?”, more than 57 percent of the survey participants responded “against,” compared with only 31 percent who responded that said that they were in favor of building the dams. Nearly 9 percent of the respondents said that they did not know. The survey is estimated to have an approximately 3 percent margin of error, and was done by phone with more than 1000 participants from the entire length of Chile.

Public opinion is clearly against the dams. Perhaps it is the increasing awareness of the dangers of dam failures [PDFver here] and the dangerous nature of the very risky proposal to build in a highly seismic region [PDFver here] . Perhaps it is the flagrant disregard for corporate responsibility that HidroAysén has demonstrated [PDFver here] in moving forward with construction without having secured approval for their project. Most likely, though, it is exactly as our friends with the Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia have said–that Chilean citizens recognize the irreparable damage that the dams would do to the natural jewel that is Patagonia [PDFver here] .

An interesting aspect of the poll to consider is the breakdown amongst age groups. Just short of 48 percent of the poll respondents who are 55+ years old stated that they were in support of the construciton of dams in Patagonia. But an overwhelming 65 percent of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 39 have stated that they are against the damming of rivers in Patagonia.

The results of this poll put to rest the myth that it is only “rich foreigners” who are interested in protecting Patagonia’s Wild Rivers at Risk [PDFver here] . The results clearly show that this is an issue that is directly connected to the Chilean peoples interest in a responsible and sustainable future, and that our international campaign is well rooted in a popular movement to protect rivers and communities in Patagonia.

You can join this international movement today! Nearly 1000 people have posted their photo at the Your Photo For Patagonia campaign action [PDFver here] , and with every new face the campaign is better positioned to tell Home Depot [PDFver here] and ENEL [PDFver here] that they must take steps to protect Patagonia today.

Read the original article on the International Rivers website [PDFver here]

Contribute a photo to the “Your Photo For Patagonia” campaign [PDFver here]

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