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Date: Thu, 6 Aug 98 19:04:08 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #444, 8/2/98
Article: 40598
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.4300.19980807181613@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** reg.nicaragua: 68.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #444, 8/2/98 **
** Written 9:07 PM Aug 2, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **
ISSUE #444, AUGUST 2, 1998
339 LAFAYETTE ST., NEW YORK, NY 10012 (212) 674-9499

Indigenous Chileans Fight Dam Project

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Issue #444
2 August 1998

Chile's National Indigenous Development Council (CONADI) said on July 23 that the National Electricity Company (ENDESA) must stop work on its $250 million Ralco dam on the Biobio river or face legal action by indigenous groups. The dam project will flood native Pehuenche lands, displacing 90 Pehuenche families from their homes. ENDESA has sought to induce the families to exchange their property for other land acquired by the company.

Rogelio Nahuel, legal adviser to the Biobio Pehuenche, said CONADI will make an official announcement on Aug. 6 regarding the validity of the land barter contracts ENDESA has signed with some of the Pehuenche families. He added that 12 Pehuenche families will make a formal presentation to the Economy Ministry asking the Electricity and Fuel Superintendency (SEC) to deny ENDESA permission to build the dam. [CHIP News 7/24/98 from El Mercurio, La Tercera]

From July 4-6, members of the Pehuenche community--supported by some 60 students from all over Chile and leaders of the environmental Action Group for the Biobio and the Political Ecology Institute--set up blockades at the Nireco and Malla bridges at the entrance of the Quepuca-Ralco community, preventing the passage of trucks and other vehicles carrying workers from the Besalco company, an ENDESA subcontractor. The blockade was lifted after Biobio provincial governor Juan Carlos Coronata came and agreed to make up a commission to seek an end to the illegal activities of ENDESA and Besalco in the area. The protest action was proposed and led by Mapu Domuche Nehuen (Women with Earth Force), a Pehuenche women's group. [Biobio al Dia #10, Vol. 2, 2nd half of July 1998, 7/26/98]

The Pehuenche indigenous communities are seeking international support for their demands that the Ralco dam project be suspended, and that the human rights of indigenous people be respected. Faxes can be sent to CONADI's Temuco office (fax# 56-45-234323); Superintendencia de Electricidad y Combustibles (SEC) (fax# +56-2-6727708; email <sec@ctc-mundo.net>); and Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A. (ENDESA) (fax #56-2-2332731).

(For more information contact
South and Meso American Indian Rights Center (SAIIC),
510-834-4263; fax #510-834-4264;
email <saiic@igc.org>.)

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