Dam project in Chile's Patagonia region causes mass protests

July 1, 2011

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(Courtesy of International Rivers)
Activists protesting the proposed dams in Patagonia gather at the banks of the Rio Baker.

The $3.2 billion HidroAysen project is a controversial hydroelectric dam complex planned for Chile. The project’s five dams would flood almost 15,000 acres of Patagonian wilderness. Getting the power to market would require transmission lines to gauge a 1,200 mile swath through the forest. Chile’s government says they need the dams to help double the country’s energy output in the next 10 years. But activists against the dams have increasing popular support to stop the project.

Berklee Lowrey-Evans is a Latin America program associate at International Rivers, which works to protect rivers and the communities that depend on them. Ten days ago, a Chilean court suspended work on the dams. Lowrey-Evans tells us what this means for the project's future.