Chile Indians Block Dam Project


| August 8, 2003


A group of elderly Pehuenche Indian women are refusing to sell their land at Ralco in Southern Chile, frustrating the national electric utility's plans to build a $570 million hydroelectric dam, reports PlanetArk. 'For six years the women have rejected offers of money -- up to $1.1 million -- and land in exchange for their 103 acres on the banks of the Bio Bio River that Chile's Endesa power company needs to finish its giant power station project.' The Pehuenches, a tribe of the Mapuche people, Chile's largest indigenous group, are standing firm, backed up by a 1993 law that granted them control of their traditional lands in perpetuity. 'They're not going to flood my land,' said one of the women, 78-year-old Berta Quintreman, 'I'll only leave here when I'm dead.'
-- Leif Utne

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