Aysén Hydroelectric Dam Project

By Roberto Lara, Water Issues Intern
August 8, 2011

Roberto Lara

“The common good is only possible when society is viewed in its totality and the narrow vision of individual interests is overcome. Progress is either sustainable or it’s not progress”. Chilean bishops

This past May the Chilean court approved the Aysén hydroelectric dam project that consists of building five hydroelectric dams on two rivers in the sparsely-populated Aysén area of Chilean Patagonia. The project was presented as progress for the country. Thinking about 2,750 MW of energy generated from water, which is a natural resource, might seem like there is progress in renewable energy issues. But, is there really progress when we are hurting natural biodiversity and by hurting it, making an impact in human life?

The hydroelectric dams’ impact threatens Patagonia culture. It would cause the extinction of several species and endanger indigenous communities. It threatens miles of natural regions that are recognized by the world as some of the most important bio-diversity zones around our planet. This natural region reminds us of the love of our Creator for its unique characteristics and ecosystem, which makes it a region that must be protected.

In June, after the streets were taken a couple of times by thousands of Chileans protesting the project, it was temporarily suspended by the Chilean Court. In the CCAO, we pray and will put our effort into working for this project not to go forward as planned, because progress must be matched with a strong respect for nature and human beings.