The Regional Movement for the Defense of the Territory launched a regional strike in Huila, Colombia on Jan. 3 to protest the destructive impacts of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project and the entering of UK-based petroleum company Emerald Energy into the biodiverse mountaintop moor ecosystem of the Páramo of Miraflores. The movement, compromised of the Association of Affected by the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project (ASOQUIMBO), the Civic Committee of Western Huila, communities from the Páramo of Miraflores and the Regional Indigenous Council of Huila (CRIHU), has blocked the highway and bridge known as Paso del Colegio and has paralyzed the construction of the Quimbo Hydroelectric Project, courageously pushing the diverting of the Magdalena River behind schedule while facing violent evcitions by riot police and the military and a media blackout.
The region of the Quimbo is rich in biodiversity, including over 900 ha of Riparian forest ecosystem along the river´s edge, as well as extensive fertile agricultural lands. During the last four years the project has caused ecological destruction, increased cost of living, psychological traumas, and abuses against local communities. Over 2,000 people live in the region that would be covered by the 9,500 ha reservoir, though more than 15,000 people in central Huila depend on this region for employment and food production.
During the last four years the farmers who grow tobacco, coffee, cacao, day laborers, fishermen, artisans, loggers, and other inhabitants of the region have grown and unified into ASOQUIMBO, recognized both regionally and nationally as a determined, effective and coherent social movement and as an example of community resistance against a hydroelectric dam project whom many believe will set precedents for other anti-dam struggles in Colombia and elsewhere. As part of National Movement for the Defense of Territories of theMovement Rios Vivos, ASOQUIMBO has grown to build ties with other communities affected by dams, such as Urra I & II en Cordoba, Hidrosogamoso in Santander and Hidroituango in Antioquia.
Minister Frank Pearl