Tag: La Amistad

“As indigenous people, we have always depended on the environment . . .”

also posted at Truth & Progress

The quote in the title is from a letter which in its English version begins

Dear AES Shareholders:

We are addressing you on behalf of more than 15 indigenous Ngobe communities which live on the banks of the Changuinola River, located in Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. We have lived along this river for many years, this river which borders La Amistad International Park – a World Heritage site shared by Panama and Costa Rica. We work the land as our ancestors taught us, cultivating oranges, corn, bananas and other crops which grow together with the small number of animals we raise. But also, the fish and shrimp of the Changuinola River are an important part of our diet and our culture.

Currently, our lifestyle and the ecosystem surrounding us are facing a grave threat: the construction of three hydroelectric dams on the river, located above and below our communities. These dams, called Chan 75, Chan 140, and Chan 220, are being financed and constructed by AES Corporation. While some of us have been temporarily employed to clear trees and prepare the ground for construction, the reality is that in the long term these dams will have disastrous effects for us.

The dams are expected to rapidly eradicate up to eleven species of diadramous fish and shrimp on which the Ngobe traditionally rely. For a technical analysis, see Probable Effects on Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function of Four Proposed Hydroelectric Dams in the Changuinola/Teribe Watershed, Bocas del Toro, Panama, with emphasis on Effects within The La Amistad World Heritage Site (22-page pdf)

AES’s Panama page, which features a smiling young Indian boy, sounds benevolent enough:

. . . we’re not just running a business, we know that the impact of our work goes far beyond that. Bringing electricity to places that never had it before, working for the social good-these are often profound outcomes of our business. Providing electricity can radically improve the quality of life, especially in developing countries, and especially because AES does so reliably, safely and responsibly.