Hydroelectric Dams in MesoAmerica

Hydroelectric Dams in MesoAmerica

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By Agustín Tevalán Hernández

Various transnational companies seek to take advantage of international agreements to accelerate the privatization of water resources; turning the vital liquid into a commodity and enriching itself at the cost of the future of the entire world.

Mesoamerican Forum Against Dams

The organizations declare that the proliferation of hydroelectric projects in our countries does not obey the energy needs of our peoples but responds to the need to create the necessary infrastructure to develop the neoliberal economic model through the Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas ( FTAA), the different free trade agreements at the continental level, the Puebla-Panama Plan and the Colombia Plan, among others.

To date, two Mesoamerican Forums against Dams have been held, the first in March 2002 at the Cooperativa Unión Maya Itzá, Petén, Guatemala; and the second in July 2003 in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras.

In both forums, we have expressed our solidarity with the people and organizations threatened, persecuted and who have suffered human rights violations in the framework of the resistance struggle against the dams; as well as the millions of people around the world who have been displaced and affected by hydroelectric dams.

The organizations declare that the proliferation of hydroelectric projects in our countries does not obey the energy needs of our peoples but responds to the need to create the necessary infrastructure to develop the neoliberal economic model through the Free Trade Area of ​​the Americas ( FTAA), the different free trade agreements at the continental level, the Puebla-Panama Plan and the Colombia Plan, among others.

We have also verified that these projects linked to large transnational and national capital, have the support of multinational financial institutions, and completely breach environmental legislation and the right of self-determination of the peoples, which forces us to adopt measures to fight of resistance and to reiterate the validity of the alternative proposals that arise from the towns.

Geopolitical Framework:
The Puebla Panama Plan constitutes a set of Mesoamerican initiatives, whose emphasis is on the creation of road, electrical, tourist and communication infrastructure, as well as creating the conditions conducive to the exploitation of biodiversity in our region. This, responding to the imperialist interests of consolidating the Mesoamerican region as a backyard for the US to channel merchandise exchange, exploit labor, control natural resources, and turn the region into a total appendage.

The adjustment that is generated in Mesoamerica from all these neoliberal plans is directly expressed in the Puebla Panama Plan, through which three projects are mainly promoted in the electrical field:

-The Electrical Interconnection System for Central American Countries (SIEPAC), through a transmission line of 1,830 kilometers from Panama to Guatemala; with a total cost of US $ 337 million.
-The Guatemala-Mexico Interconnection, with a total cost of US $ 44.5 million, proposes the construction of a transmission line from Los Brillantes (Guatemala) to Tapachula (Mexico).
-The Guatemala - Belize Interconnection, with a total cost of US $ 23.8 million, consists of a transmission line from Santa Elena, Petén (Guatemala) to Belize City.

The map shows how the SIEPAC transmission lines are linked with the Mexican and Belize network through the interconnections proposed in the PPP. In turn, the Mexican lines are interconnected with the US network. In other words, the networks of Central America, Mexico and the US will be linked and in this way a gigantic electricity market will be formed in the region. In geopolitical terms, this electricity market has two main purposes: 1. to supply energy to the economic corridor proposed in the Puebla Panama Plan (maquilas, tourism, etc., etc.); and 2. guaranteeing the electricity supply of the United States, exploiting the energy sources and resources of Mesoamerica.

This immense electricity transmission and distribution network represents a special attraction for transnational companies, since it allows UNIÓN FENOSA, ENDESA, Electricidad de Portugal, Coastal Corporation, Hydro-Quebec International, AES, IBERDROLA, Duke Energy International, Teco Power Services, Constellation Power, ENRÓN, etc. profit infinitely from the "light".

Indeed, this market requires a significant increase in the generation of electricity. This change in the electricity sector, under geopolitical conditions fundamentally different from those that existed 10, 20 or 30 years ago, fosters a greater emphasis and interest in the construction of electricity generation plants on the part of the institutions promoting the PPP and the private initiative.

A recent study (1998) by the Inter-American Development Bank suggests that the total investment required by the electricity sector in the Central American region during the next ten years could be more than 7 billion dollars to satisfy an average annual growth of 6%. on the demand.

For Mexico, a similar table is presented: the Directorate of Financed Investment Projects of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) projects an increase in generation capacity by 9.8% (2003). In this sense, the CFE plans the construction of multiple generation plants until 2011 to satisfy the growing demand for energy in this dynamic of globalization.

These projections are again affirmed by the IDB in its progress report on the Puebla Panama Plan: "The creation of the MER and the construction of the SIEPAC Line constitute a unit that will attract private investment in larger generating plants oriented to the regional market. It is estimated that during the next decade, in generation alone, the Central American region will need investments of US $ 700 million annually. "

Precisely in this context of neoliberal capitalism, of which the Puebla Panama Plan is part, hydroelectric dams are planned and retaken throughout the Mesoamerican region. In other words, hydroelectric projects are part of the neoliberal strategy, and the transmission lines proposed in the PPP create the conditions to attract private investment in the field of power generation.

The IDB's involvement in these neoliberal plans also indicates that the hydroelectric projects will be financed by the IDB's Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), in conjunction with transnational companies in the energy sector.

Another element that causes this "new wave" of dam projects is the strategic control of freshwater resources in the face of the projected global crisis: currently, there are 1.3 billion people in the world without access to clean water; 31 countries are considered to be located in areas of water scarcity; and in 2025 the demand for fresh water will be 56% more than the supply.

In this context, various transnational companies [Vivendi Universal, esSuez, RWE, Bouygues, United Utilities, Severn Trent, AWG, Kelda, Bechtel, etc.] seek to take advantage of international financial and commercial agreements to accelerate and consolidate the privatization of resources of water; turning the vital liquid into a commodity and enriching itself at the expense of the future of humanity and the entire world.

In the document "Sector Strategy for Water Resources", published on March 25, 2002 by the World Bank, it affirms this plan to make the water sector attractive for private initiative, both drinking water and hydroelectric plants. In this sense, the reservoirs created by hydroelectric dams are considered at the same time as large reserves of fresh water, exploitable in the "water" market.

This means that the fate of rivers, communities, lands, forests and sacred places depends on a strategy of world domination, which only seeks the marginalization and irrational exploitation of our peoples and our wealth.

For this reason, in the Mesoamerican Forums Against Dams we demand that the governments of our countries stop immediately all hydroelectric projects and no more concessions of any body of water be granted to individuals. Likewise, we demand that the use of water be guaranteed and respected as a collective good for community benefit.

Hydroelectric Dams Project in Mesoamerica:
According to the investigations of various organizations, there are approximately 330 hydroelectric projects throughout the Mesoamerican region, which are in their different stages of study, planning or construction.

Guerrero: La Parota, San Juan Tetelzinqo.
Oaxaca: Benito Juárez.
Chiapas: Izantún, Quetzali, Huixtán I, Huixtán II, and Caballo Blanco.

Mexico - Guatemala (binational projects):
Usumacinta River: Boca del Cerro, La Línea, El Porvenir, El Cayo Island, Yaxchilán

Río Hondo, Zunil, Río Cahabón, Ocós and Chixoy (already built)

Project Usable Resource Company Capacity (kW)
Canjilones Ríos Estelí and Chiriquí AES Panamá SA 120,000
Coclé del Norte River Coclé del Norte ACP 150,000
Indio I Indio River ACP25,000
Indio II Rio Indio ACP25,000
Río Piedra Río Piedra Hydroelectric Río Pedra SA 10,500
Bonyic Quebrada Bonyic Hidro Ecológica del Teribe SA 30,000
Algarrobos Río Casita de Piedra Hidroeléctrica Chiriquí SA 11,200
Paso Ancho Río Chiriquí Viejo Paso Ancho Hydro Power Corp. 12,400
Bajo de Mina Río Chiriquí Viejo La Mina Hydro Power Corp. 25,000
Santa Marío Río Santa María Cons. Hydroelectric Santa María 24,000
Tabasará II Río Tabasará Cons. Hidroeléctrico Tabasará SA 46,000
Tabasará I Río Tabasará Cons. Hidroeléctrico Tabasará SA 46,000
The Yeguada Río San Juan Emp. Electrical Distribution7,000
Metro Oeste SA
Monte Lirio Río Chiriquí Viejo Electrón Investment SA 51,600
Pando Río Chiriquí Viejo Electrón Investment SA 32,600
Los Añiles Río Estelí Generadora Eléctrica de Panamá 35,000
Chiriquí - El Corro Ríos Estelí and Papayal Generadora Eléctrica de Panamá 56,000
Candela Río Candela Investment Company 1,200
Agro-Técnicas SA
Quebro Río Quebro Hidroeléctrica del Sur SA8,590
Gualaca Río Estelí Bontex SA 28,000
El Síndigo Río Los Valles Los Naranjos Overseas SA8,000
Baitún Río Chiriquí Viejo Progreso Hydroelectric Complex 70,000
Macano Ríos Piedra, Bonilla and Istmus Hydro Power Corp. 5,800
Quebrada Paraíso
La Cuchilla Río Macho de Monte Atlantic Generating Project Inc. 9,650
San Carlos Ríos Teta and Mata Ahogado Hidroeléctrica San Carlos SA 1,500
Antón II Aguas turbines de Hidro Panamá SA 1,400
Anton I
Burica Río Chiquirí Viejo Hidro Burica SA 60,000
El Alto Río Chiquirí Viejo Hydro Caisán SA 45,000
San Andrés Ríos Cateo and Gariché Fuerza Hidráulica del Caribe SA 5,300
Ojo de Agua Ríos Grande and Zapillo Estrella del Sur SA 7,897
Los Estrechos Río Cobre Hydroelectric Los Estrechos SA 9,500
Bajo del Totuma Río Colorado Hydroelectric Bajo del Totuma SA3,360
Concepción Río Piedra Istmus Hydro Power Corp. 8,700
Cochea Río Cochea and Quebrada Hidromáquinas de Panamá SA 6,000
CHAN-220 Río Changuinola Hydro Teribe SA126,000
El Fraile Río Grande Hidroibérica SA 3,930

- El Cajón: already built, threatening people for the possible breakdown of it, and increasing external debt
- Río Cangrejal: 50 MW, Construction cost: 80 Million US $, will affect Ceiba.
- Babylon: natural reserve, will affect San Esteban, Tatacamas, etc., and 5000 families will be displaced
- Río Patuca: threat to the Río de la Plata Biosphere and various populations
- Gualcarque Dam between the municipality of San Francisco de Opalaca and the municipality of La Esperanza
- San Juan Dam in the municipality of San Marcos de la Sierra
- Rio Negro Dam in the municipality of Concepción

Honduras - El Salvador (binational project):
- El Tigre: binational project that will affect communities in Honduras and El Salvador

The Savior:
-Torola Hydroelectric Complex (Chaparral and La Honda)
-San Marcos
-Bear Pass

Costa Rica:
45 dams built
135 dams under study, including:
- Boroi
- Tanari
- Atirro
- Pacuare
- Siquirres

In the face of these direct threats, we affirm that the economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts that hydroelectric projects have already caused have caused irreparable losses throughout the Mesoamerican territory. This shows a huge contradiction between what is the supposed development promoted by governments and the disastrous consequences that we are already experiencing in our own flesh.

We reiterate our call to all Latin American peoples to continue popular resistance against the construction of the dams and all complementary neoliberal policies.

Action plans:
Strengthening the local organization of struggle and resistance: in many countries the struggles against dams have arisen in recent years; and the main efforts are in information, awareness and organization at the local level; gathering communities in resistance against these projects.

Articulations: in some countries it is proposed to create articulation efforts at the national level, and around binational projects, efforts are being integrated by basin.

Regional Mobilizations (March 14): this year, on the International Day Against Dams, various mobilizations and blockades have taken place in Mesoamerica, and it was agreed to carry out these activities with greater force in 2004.

Exchange of information, materials, etc .: all organizations consider it very important to exchange experiences, information, brochures, videos, posters ...

Legal actions: it is also proposed to take action in the legal field, taking advantage of various national and international legal instruments in the fight against dams.

III. Mesoamerican Forum Against Dams in El Salvador: follow up and strengthen the coordination process at the Mesoamerican level to go globalizing our struggles.

Agustín Tevalán Hernández
Coordinator [email protected]
Petenero Front Against Dams

Video: Walking Inside Abandoned HydroElectric Dam (July 2022).


  1. Gojas

    .. rarely .. This exception can be said: i) of the rules

  2. Felipe

    Many thanks for support how I can thank you?

  3. Drem

    Absolutely with you it agree. In it something is also thought excellent.

  4. Ranger

    Yes, almost one and the same.

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