Mega Dam Project on Patuca River Threatens Indigenous Communities

Edgardo Benitez of the Green Alliance and the Platform in Defence of the Patuca River, said everyone is worried and desperate, especially the Tawahkas who are a small group of 500, whose lives depend on this river. This community of Tawahkas is at risk of extinction as the dam project at the Patuca River proceeds. Those who call the Patuca river home are thousands of Indigenous people living in one of the dozens of Indigenous communities on the river. At a workshop, community members ‘repeatedly emphasized the tight linkages between the river and their lives and livelihoods. The Tawaka and Miskito people relied on the river for water, transportation, and fish, while seasonal floods deposited nutrient-rich soil in low-lying farm fields to maintain their long-term productivity’ (Opperman 7/2/11).

Patuca is the longest river of Honduras at 320kms long. When I asked Edgardo how long it might take if I travelled to visit the communities, he said it would take several days as you would go through forests and rivers as there are no roads.

In 2001, Bassi wrote about the grave social and environmental implications building the massive hydroelectric dams on Patuca River would have, and that ‘fortunately, the efforts of local and international groups have put the project on hold. While a positive step, this does not permanently protect the river, as the project could potentially be reinstated at any time.’

While discussions had been ongoing, this ‘any time’ has come; on 17 January 2011, the Honduran National Congress approved a decree for the construction of the dams Patuca II, IIA, and III, and supposeably the Ministry of Natural Resources and World Bank gave the green light saying the dam will not cause environmental damage (Honduras Weekly, 21/1/11). General Manager of state power company Enee said Patuca III’s first stage works will begin in early February 2011 and its commercial operations in 2014 (Hydroworld, 2011).

Political games with an unfeasible project

 The current ‘winner’ of this ‘game’ are the semi-state Chinese company Sinohydro which has concession for the project; with the Chinese Vice-President Son Dong Sheng having said the project will need investment of around $1,000 million in September 2009, to have this answered by the Inter-American Development Bank committing $1,200 millions of finance (El Heraldo, 29/10/10). Countries like Germany is also making some form of contribution to these types of projects while hypocritically supporting projects to protect forests, when dam projects destroy the rivers and the forests the rivers feed.

Even if one could disregard the substantial harms upon the environment and communities, which is precisely what businesses do, previous players of this game dating back more than a decade show that economic gains are just as doubtful as the harms are certain.

In 1997, it was the US Texan company Panda, Olancho campesinos made declarations rejecting Patuca dam proposals and denouncing the lack on consultation in 2002 (Ahuas) and 2008 (Uhri Brus) (Ofraneh, 2010), during Zelaya’s administration, the US Harza Company withdrew (Platform for the Defence of Patuca River), and the Taiwanese semi-state company Taiwan Power declined the contract and withdrew its plans to invest $300 million (El Heraldo, 29/10/10).

The Harza Company withdrew because in 2008 Hurracane Mitch came and ruined the shores of the rivers and the company learned through this that the river was too fragile to sustain such a project (Patuca Platform).

El Heraldo (2010) states Taiwan’s decision to withdraw was based on financial crisis, but Patuca Platform confirms that it was because it undertook evaluation and was conscious of the problems with the shores, and that real production capacity of the river is only half its predicted capacity of 100 megawatts (its proponents, such as Honduras Weekly 21/1/11, continue to use original numbers, of 104 megawatts in 3 years, and 524 megawatts in 9 years), partly because the rivers do not hold water, but flows to the sea instead.

Benitez suspects that the Chinese government is well aware of the fact that the project is not feasible, but chose to bid for the dam in spite of this and in disregard of the political situation of Honduras or the social and environmental impact because of rivalry between China and Taiwan governments. Amongst the risks include the destruction of the Tawahka Asangni Biosphere Reserve and the Miskitia and Garifuna coastal wetlands.

Sinohydro Company built the Three Throats in China – the largest dam in the world.

While the Honduran regime rules as unconstitutional a decree allowing farming communities occupying idle land to make legal claims on the land because this ‘violates private property’, it takes no issue with expropriating land from small farmers and communities against their will for the Patuca projects. According to Honduras Weekly 21/1/11 it will also build a road at Jamastran.

With the military coup of 2009, its planners did not expect that people would go out on the streets in thousands everyday for several months. Benitez believes that the coup plotters now think they need to partner with transnational capital to absolve the resistance, and for the same reason are pushing for the introduction of ‘model cities’, both fitting in with Lobo’s neoliberal Country Plan.

The deposed Zelaya administration did withdraw the project along with the company facing strong community opposition and obvious environmental harms, the coup regimes have no tendencies to do the same, and restored the historical politics of persecution of community leaders and removal of projects for the Indigenous.

The proponents and coup regime also claim this move is to stop Honduras’ dependence on thermal energy, to make ‘clean’ energy cheaper, (Honduras Weekly 21/1/11) Ofraneh (2010) refuted the clean energy claims stating there are studies that show megadams in tropical and subtropical waters contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as the submerged forests convert into a methane source, which is considered 20 times more contamining than CO2.

It explains that this attack of imposing hydroelectric dams in the Central American region is part of the Mesoamerica Project which conforms to the US energy vision in the name of ‘Alliance of the Americas for Energy and Climate Strategy’ presented by Hillary Clinton on 15/4/10.

Ofraneh reiterated that there are shortages of production of clean efficient energy, but that to provide ‘clean energy’ by destroying rivers is irresponsible, that there are other options that do not require such damaging constructions.

At a government contracted workshop for developing ‘environmental flow requirements’ for the dam construction on the river a local fisheries biologist who gave a presentation and history of governments’ broken promises, closed off saying ‘a ellos van siempre los dolares…a nosotros van siempre los dolores’ ‘to them always the dollars, to us always the pain’.

While the author believed it was possible to get the ‘environmental flows right, he could see that people in such project often have become collateral damage, was concerned about the scale and location of the dam now with 3 dams, and confirms there is a lot of uncertainty for the future. (Opperman, 7/2/11)

Movement to stop the dams on Patuca

As construction is set to begin, the communities this will affect are committed to come together, create strength in unity, and consciously make their last fight to stop this dam. They do so in the context of having to be very careful, of drug traffickers, mafia, courts, government, etc. The ‘government’ can send to kill and blame it on gangs, while there are also evidence of army and police sent from Colombia against social movements. They also do so in the context of limited economic resources; for example the Platform as one of the organisations coordinating the struggle, has a very precarious financial situation; before the coup, Allianza Verde received a small funding from an NGO, but the NGO like many others left Honduras in July 2009 (Patuca Platform).

On 15/2/11, representatives of the Miskitu, Pech, Tawahka and Garifuna communities met and formed the Unity of Indigenous and Black peoples of the Honduran Miskitia, condemned that the regime gave concession for the construction of Patuca I, II & III without prior consultation nor consent of the peoples, and declared that they will permanently rebel, watch and denounce and take collective action to defend Rio Patuca, its fishes, ecosystems, and the Tawahka and Rio Platano biosphere reserves.

On 2/2/11, Olancho communities arrived to the Presidential House in the capital city Tegucigalpa, to protest against the construction of Patuca III Dam, with construction to begin 15/2 according to recent announcements – highlighting there were never any negotiation process involving these or sales agreement.

Not all of the opposition is demanding this project be stopped however – Miguel Navarro of National Popular Resistance Front said their demands are to be paid and to be paid just prices, but that the head of the state energy company ENEE has not wanted to met with them (Red Morazanica).

This protest was repressed – police commissioners Merlo and Aguilar threatened the protesters with beatings, and a grey 4-door Mazda vehicle PCM3633 had people inside who dedicated to taking photos in an intimidating way of the protesters.

- Article Written By: Rosanna Wong

Photos: All Images in this article courtesy of: Edgardo Benitez, from Alianza Verde, Honduras, Patuca River. Closely looming mega dam project will finish off Patuca River and Indigenous communities that depend on the river.

  • Foto_88
  • Foto_9
  • Foto_5
  • Foto_7
  • Foto_6
About the Author

  • Pingback: Nuclear War in 2011

  • http://www.tanyadransfield.com/sleeptalk.htm Steven Feldker

    It is really often fine to notice another person speaking their mind, and for that, quite a few of us usually are thankful. Thank you for the insight as well as the read.

  • Pingback: Underreported Struggles #48, (3 importand documentaries) | Eagainst.com - Autonomy against Barbarism

  • Pingback: Underreported Struggles #48, March 2011: Sarawak « @ggregator

  • Pingback: Underreported Struggles #48, March 2011

  • Pingback: Protecting Rivers and Rights: The Promise of the World Commission on Dams

  • Pingback: Don't Dam the Patuca River!

  • Pingback: Paradise in Peril: The Vanishing Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

  • Pingback: Paradise in Peril: The Vanishing Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve « Only Ed

  • Pingback: Help save The Río Platáno peoples « The Free

  • Pingback: elektrische Zahnbuerste

  • Pingback: amazon coupon codes

  • Pingback: porn videos

  • Pingback: cash loan

  • Pingback: online credit score

  • Pingback: phentermine no prescription

  • Pingback: watch the super bowl online 2012

  • Pingback: Alarmanlagen BKH Sicherheitstechnik ist Spezialist für mechatronische Schließsysteme, Schließanlagen, Zutrittskontrolle, Einbruchmelde- u. Videoüberwachungsanlagen, Rettungswegtechnik, Rauchwarnsysteme, Alarmierungssysteme sowie Briefkastenanlagen und

  • Pingback: loan www.prioritycashadvance.com

  • Pingback: Open Office

  • Pingback: Iraqi Dinar News, Dinar News

  • Pingback: abnehmen

  • Pingback: Honduras: Río Plátano Biosphere Trafficked Toward Destruction | WilderUtopia.com

  • Pingback: tatuaggi maori

  • Pingback: เกมส์ friv

  • Pingback: เพลงใหม่ download

  • Pingback: เกมส์ มากมาย

  • Pingback: http://www.floridahomeinsurancequotes.com

  • Pingback: make a website

  • Pingback: Mexican Salsa Recipe

  • heseNeree

    Excellent post indeed. My girlfriend has been searching for this update.

  • http://12bf3apfl07p5wc8ybndj7wmbs.hop.clickbank.net/ how to lose belly fat

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a entertainment account it. Glance complex to far introduced agreeable from you! However, how can we be in contact?

  • http://www.wheretogetbritishpounds.eu/british-pound/the-unpredictable-character-of-british-pound-and-the-euro-exchange-rate/ foreign exchange rates conversion

    I have learn some good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you set to create the sort of excellent informative site.

  • http://customersresearch.com/gp/item-dispatch/ref=acc_glance_e_ai_ps_atc_2?ie=UTF8&quantity.1=1&asin.1=B002NNK6JC&offeringID.1=hLe9LFgcqtkYKj92GBzzQsyAquyEAmYuLaPFHhrW8gcK%252FQI3NyFtR2%25 customers research

    Wonderful web site. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some pals ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks in your effort!

  • http://www.samsung1080phdtv.net/ samsung 1080p hdtv

    Great original content. Thank you for making this topic captivating and clear. Your formatting of the points you made is excellent. I stand in awe of your true writing abilities. http://www.samsung1080phdtv.net/

  • http://www.printable-coupons-2012.net/2012/03/kohls-printable-coupons-2012.html Kohls Printable Coupons 2012

    I do accept as true with all of the ideas you have introduced on your post. They are really convincing and will certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too quick for beginners. Could you please lengthen them a little from next time? Thank you for the post.

  • http://traffic-in-hosting.info/cheap-dedicated-hosting-server.html Web hosting- Feedback,HostGator,Bluehost,Fatcow,Dedicated Hostmonster, Justhost,Domain Names,Ipage,Inmotion

    I believe that is among the most significant information for me. And i am happy studying your article. But wanna commentary on few general issues, The web site style is wonderful, the articles is actually nice : D. Good process, cheers

  • http://mäklarenorrtälje.se mäklare rimbo

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this weblog and I am impressed! Very useful information specifically the closing part :) I care for such information much. I was seeking this particular information for a very lengthy time. Thank you and good luck.

  • http://www.dataentryjobs.us/73455.html home jobs

    That is really fascinating, You’re an overly skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for extra of your magnificent post. Additionally, I’ve shared your site in my social networks

  • http://www.stevezuwala.com country music singer

    You could certainly see your expertise within the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  • http://bestdiscountwebhosting.com/jaguarpc-coupon-70-off-jaguarpc-hosting/ jaguar pc vps

    I get pleasure from, cause I discovered just what I was taking a look for. You’ve ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  • http://vpshostinglink.com/ Cheap VPS

    Generally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very great article.

  • http://cancer.how-to-get-rid.com/ get rid of cancer

    I do consider all the concepts you’ve introduced in your post. They’re very convincing and will certainly work. Still, the posts are too brief for novices. May just you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  • http://www.jackshomeimprovement.com/gallery.aspx boston contractor

    hello there and thanks for your info ? I’ve certainly picked up something new from proper here. I did on the other hand experience some technical points the usage of this web site, since I skilled to reload the web site lots of occasions previous to I may just get it to load correctly. I were pondering if your web host is OK? Now not that I am complaining, however slow loading cases instances will very frequently affect your placement in google and could harm your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords. Well I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can glance out for a lot extra of your respective interesting content. Ensure that you replace this once more very soon..

  • http://doncruz513.blogspace.fr/tag/kredyt+mieszkaniowy/ amir beklir

    Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue along with your site in internet explorer, may test this? IE still is the market leader and a good part of people will leave out your fantastic writing due to this problem.

  • http://www.wypoczynek.potrzeba.net/story.php?id=56393 firm seo toronto

    Whats up very nice web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I’m glad to search out so many helpful information right here within the publish, we’d like work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing.

  • http://zbuxz.com/forum/view_topic.php?cat=2&id=6 get paid to click

    Someone necessarily help to make significantly posts I’d state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I amazed with the research you made to make this actual submit incredible. Fantastic job!

  • http://www.downloadtopc.com/get/15/23557/123DVD_Pro.html DVD Software

    You realize therefore considerably in relation to this topic, produced me for my part believe it from a lot of numerous angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested except it’s something to do with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs excellent. Always deal with it up!

  • http://www.piratewatersports.com/American-Made-NC-Sup-Custom.html Stand Up Paddle Boards| Paddle Boards | SUP

    That is really fascinating, You’re an overly professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in search of extra of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks

  • http://papijump.org papijump

    Howdy, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

  • http://www.capcom-unity.com/riodawonsio21/ SooryNoke

    to buy phentermine from canada [url=http://www.capcom-unity.com/fasttraderil63/]can you buy real phentermine online[/url] [url=http://www.capcom-unity.com/stifalmoso20/]where can i order phentermine online[/url] [url=http://www.capcom-unity.com/iseasaler41/]buy phentermine 37.5 online cheap[/url] [url=http://www.capcom-unity.com/vikalmtrinet78/]how to purchase phentermine online[/url] [url=http://www.capcom-unity.com/riodawonsio21/]where to buy phentramin d in canada[/url] buy phentermine india buy phentermine in india

  • Pingback: Free iPhone

  • Pingback: hybrid cab boston

  • http://www.8inchheels.net 8 Inch Heels

    I have fun with, lead to I found just what I was looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  • http://www.gimnasiaencasa.info gimnasia en casa

    I believe this is one of the such a lot important info for me. And i am satisfied reading your article. But wanna remark on some common issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is in point of fact great : D. Good activity, cheers

  • Pingback: itchy skin no rash

  • http://www.herhealthandbeauty.blogspot.co.uk/ Nootropic

    I like your useful writing. excellent work. I hope you write others. I will continue subscribing

  • http://alberteinsteinbiography.net/outdoor-furniture-get-quite-possibly-the-most-outside-the-furniture/ Natashia

    Thanks for the post, it has made things alot clearer for me.

  • http://poetrycentral.net/ Poetry

    You already know therefore significantly in relation to this matter, made me in my opinion imagine it from a lot of varied angles. Its like women and men don’t seem to be involved until it’s one thing to do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. At all times handle it up!

  • http://mcnerd.me/stuff-you-might-wanna-know/what-makes-up-professional-web-design/ Hosting

    I hardly comment, but I read some of the comments here %NAME%. I do have some questions for you if you don’t mind. Is it just me or do some of the comments look like they are coming from brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting on other sites, I’d like to follow you. Could you list of all of your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  • http://www.iloveenvy.com Envy Vancouver

    You could definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart.|

  • http://aa3146051.com a3146051

    I’ve said that least 3146051 times. SCK was here