Two Controversial Dam Projects Stalled

The La Parota Dam Project and the Belo Monte Dam Project have been [at least temporarily] halted is the word from the river advocacy organization International Rivers.

La Parota Dam Project [Mexico] has been definitively cancelled after leaders of the CECOP (the community organization organized to fight the project) and the state government of Acapulco, Mexico signed an agreement.

According to International Rivers,  La Parota would have flooded close to 17,000 hectares of land; displaced more than 25,000 people ad affected another 75,000 people downstream of the dam.

International Rivers reports that the project came at great personal sacrifice for many community members. The commitment to defeat the project resulted in communities finding themselves divided over the issue, and people dying for the cause.

At almost the same time, the Belo Monte Dam project [Brazil] was halted–at least temporarily. The Belo Monte Dam project reached international attention after the indigenous people of the Xingu River reached out to the international community. The Belo Monte Dam would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric project on one of the Amazon’s major tributaries, the Xingu River. The Belo Monte Dam would divert the flow of the Xingu, devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian rainforest, displace over 20,000 people, and threaten the survival of indigenous tribes that depend on the river

In many countries, dam-controlled rivers guarantee water for power generation, protection of the natural resources and downstream recreation. The United States epitomizes finding that balance through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). All privately owned projects must go through relicensing processes. In the past five years, this process has resulted in not only finding a balance between stakeholders to continue a project, but also recognizing when a dam no longer proves its legitimacy. The process has resulted in the removal of a number of dams from one side of the US to the other; including the Tuckasegee, NC and the White Salmon.

Hydro projects are not only about bringing power to third world countries that seek progress, but about third world debt, international company investment, and power. To understand the complexity of this issue, it is worth reading The Confessions of an Economic Hitman.

To keep track of international projects and how they are affecting people and places, International Rivers is an important contact.