jueves, marzo 03, 2016

Pollinating with the Save the Baché River Committee

Photos:  Save the Baché River Committee

During December of last year we were able to organize an activity to share the Mesoamérica Resiste graphic in the rural community of San Miguel, Municipality of Santa Maria, Huila. The workshop was done with members of the Save the Baché River Committee, peasant farmers who have organized against the hydroelectric projects projected by the Electrical Utility Company of Huila, Electrohuila, along the Baché River.

Electrohuila plans to build two hydroelectric plants along the river, one near the municipal seat of Santa Maria and the other higher up in the rural community of El Socorro. The hydroelectric plants as oppose to the hydroelectric dams are normally built in smaller, narrow valleys and usually do not have a reservoir or require the rerouting of rivers.  There is a widespread opposition to all of these electric generation projects due to the fact that they are to generate electricity necessary for other industrialization and resource extraction projects that harm the land and its inhabitants.

Nine days before the workshop we had in Santa Maria, the members of the Committee received a visit of the Autonomous Regional Corporation of the Upper Magdalena- CAM (Spanish language acronym), whose members planned to enter the region with representatives of Electrohuila to realize the studies needed to determine the viability of the hydroelectric plants in the area. At 8 am the community of Santa Maria came out to the highway to wait for the arrival of the CAM and Electrohuila. In April 2015, during a public assembly, the community clearly expressed its complete rejection of the project and a concession over the Baché River and its tributaries that would last for fifty years. Essentially there is total rejection of the municipality´s common hydrological goods to the private sector.

None the less, the CAM, Electrohuila and HMV engineers insisted on trying to visit the area where they intend to build the hydroelectric plants.  As a result about a thousand people from the impacted community of these projects took over the highway and made it very clear that they would not be allowed to enter the territory.

During the blockade the community made it very clear to local media that “we will not allow entry here because the State is not defending the interests of campesino famers, instead it is handing over our national sovereignty to the national and transnational companies that are destroying the entire country with the desire of energy and minerals that are not for us, what is for us the inhabitants is the destruction of our social fabric and environment.”

In sharing Mesoamerica Resiste a space was opened in where people who struggle for the liberation of the Baché River learned about similar situations in other places, many times tied to their own struggles that have occurred throughout history in Colombia, Abya Yala, the Western Hemisphere and the entire world.

It should be clear by now to Electrohuila, the CAM and other companies vested in generating hydroelectricity, that with each additional visit they try to do in order to do technical studies for future dams, they will only be met with a growing force of mobilized communities, ready to kick them out or not even allow them to enter their territories because across the entire region the same position is being maintained by everyone: Not one more Dam!!