Tag Archives: damn

In the Path of the Mining-Energy Locomotive–Resisting Colombia’s Quimbo Hydroelectric Project

9 Feb
By: Entre Aguas

While the tone of Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, is much more diplomatic than his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, the state policies of militarizing territories to facilitate resource extraction under the guise of economic development and counter-insurgent security have not changed. The forced displacement of inhabitants that it spurred has also not abated.

Santos, the Minister of Defense under Uribe, assumed the presidency in August 2010. He kicked off his administration by naming four focus areas as the “locomotives” of his government´s economic development, one of these being mining-energy generation.

Already inhabiting the projected path of this “locomotive” are thousands of Campesino and Afro-descendent populations, over 100 distinct First Nations as well as some of planet Earth´s most scarce and vital sources of fresh water, cultivable land and endemic species.  In the wake of this locomotive´s “development” is a mass of open pit mines laden with toxic chemicals, hundreds of thousands of hectares of agro fuel plantations, and environmentally disastrous oil and gas extraction. The latter has created a web of pipelines that divide ecosystems and communities. Finally, there are the hydroelectric dams that create colossal reservoirs and kill rivers and the communities that rely on them.

Nationally, this collection of extraction projects is part of the prior government´s neoliberal Colombia 2025 project, which details the timeline for selling off the country piece by piece starting in the early 2000s through the end of the first quarter of the 21st century.  Internationally they are part of the continental mega infrastructure projects of Project Mesoamerica and the South American Regional Infrastructure Initiative (IIRSA). Continue reading

Global Protests Against Burmese Military Actions At Dams

1 Jul

By Katy Yan and Grace Mang

Cross-posted from here

Kachins protest at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco

Last Friday, hundreds of people in the US, Denmark, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and elsewhere gathered to protest the recent deadly clashes between Burmese authorities and ethnic militias in Burma’s northern Kachin State. Standing before Burmese and Chinese embassies, Kachins held up signs calling for an end to the violence and a halt to dam building by Chinese companies  in Kachin State.

Fighting broke out in early June between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) at the Dapein No. 1 and 2 dams, which are being constructed by China’s state-owned Datang Company, breaking a 17-year ceasefire. Scores of people have died and as many as 13,000 refugees have fled their homes, with many crossing into China. As of last Wednesday, about 18 women have been reported gang-raped by Burma Army soldiers in Kachin State, according to the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand.

 

Fishing on the Irrawaddy near the Myitsone Dam (Burma Rivers Network)

Chinese power companies and contractors are building a series of dams in northern Burma to supply electricity to China. The biggest and most controversial of these dams is the Myitsone Dam, a massive 3,600MW hydropower plant being built by China Power Investment and situated in an area of great cultural and ecological significance. The environmental impact assessment on this first dam on the Irrawaddy also expressed grave concerns.

In March, the KIO sent an open letter to the Chinese government calling for a halt to the project. It warned that, given the forced displacement, lack of transparency, and unequal distribution of benefits, this and other dam projects in Burma were likely to foster popular resentment, creating a risky situation for Chinese companies so close to its borders.

Chinese dams fueling conflicts in Kachin State (Kachins in California)

According to the Burma Rivers Network, the current conflict is “closely related to the dams. The government has sent in troops because it wants to gain control of a region that hosts major Chinese investments in hydropower.” Kachin State has till now been largely controlled by Kachin forces. 

Strong local resistance has also occurred in northern Shan State in an area where Burma, the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, and a number of Chinese companies (China’s Sinohydro, China Three Gorges Group Corporation, and China Southern Power Grid) are planning a series of dams for the Salween River.

China now finds itself caught in the middle due to its desire for secure energy supplies from Burma and its fear of escalating conflict around its hydropower projects so close to its borders.