Patagonia Sin Represas!
Friday, June 10, 2011
by: Kohl Christensen, SolarWorld Authorized Installer
Patagonia Sin Represas! (Patagonia without dams) spray painted above bus stops all around the capital of Santiago gives you an idea of where most Chileans stand on the proposed construction of the 5 hydroelectric dams that will destroy certain areas of Patagonia.
Protestors in Santiago, Chile
I got invited to the protest happening in Santiago and happily agreed to check it out. We took the subway at rush hour to downtown and met up with thousands of other protesters at the Plaza Italia. The ages varied but the majority seemed to be in their twenties. The chants "Pinera concha de tu madre", "Patagonia Sin Represas", "Pinera entiende, el agua no se vende" and others would start in one area of the crowd and then spread holding for minutes at a time.
We marched to "la Moneda" palace, about a mile or so away in a mass of thousands of people yelling, chanting, waving flags and boasting homemade signs protesting the government and the dam project.
Kohl Christensen marching to "la Moneda" palace
The Chileans love their Patagonia and do not want the project to proceed. How far they can take this fight is hard to say because in the end, it’s just their voice against a strong Government with its own agendas. It’s a voice though that is loud, clear and being heard around the world and it definitely made me listen.
Protestors at Plaza Italia
What are are the alternatives in a country that will demand twice the energy production it has now in the next decade to keep up with its growth? I am not an expert but after doing a little research I found out it would take about 4,000 wind turbines to produce a similar amount of energy. They also say if you covered 1% of the Atacama Desert (Northern Chile) with solar panels you could produce the same amount of energy. Geothermal is another option. So, how do the people of a country with so many alternative energy options find themselves fighting against an energy project they don’t want to happen?
I’m thinking it’s because the people of Chile love their country and want to preserve what they have left of it for future generations.