III Latin American Meeting Against Dams

III Latin American Meeting Against Dams

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By Gustavo Castro Soto

The hurricanes that hit the Mesoamerican region caused by the current production and consumption system that has produced major climatic changes did not stop the III Meeting of the Latin American Network against Dams and for Rivers, their Communities and Water that took place in October 17-21 in Guatemala.

The hurricanes that hit the Mesoamerican region caused by the current production and consumption system that has produced major climatic changes did not stop the III Meeting of the Latin American Network against Dams and for Rivers, their Communities and Water that took place in October 17-21, 2005 Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala. The meeting was a resounding success and recorded fundamental advances in the fight against dams and in the defense of rivers, lands and the lives of peoples.

Peasant and indigenous organizations and communities from the Latin American and Caribbean region affected directly or indirectly by the construction of dams, the pollution of rivers and the privatization of electric power were summoned to the meeting; as well as the independent organizations of environmentalists, human rights, groups and organized networks of civil society that work and coordinate in the fight around these problems. More of 400 delegates coming from 25 countries and of 112 organizations peasant, indigenous, social, human rights, environmentalists, NGO's, Catholic and evangelical churches, networks, fronts, movements, alternative media, indigenous nations and community representatives, met to “analyze, discuss and build alliances and strategies to face threats to our rivers, communities and waters and specifically; Consolidate the Network and its operational aspects (coordination, website, etc.); Analyze integration initiatives such as Plan Puebla Panama and IIRSA, their relationship with the Free Trade Agreements, and their role in promoting the construction of dams; Analyze the policy of governments in these initiatives and their role as promoters of dams; Carry out an updated mapping of the international, regional and national financial institutions and companies that support the construction of dams; Evaluation of the struggles in the region, successes and failures; Elaboration of common strategies towards a Continental Action Plan; Preparation of a regional agenda; and Strengthen the fight for justice and reparation for the survivors of the massacres, forced evictions, and other damages that occurred due to the construction of the Chixoy dam ”. [1]

The participants and delegations came from 25 countries: Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Italy, Japan, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Germany and England. In the midst of parties, music, dances, theatrical performances, a visit to the Chixoy dam, exhibitions and other cultural expressions of the peoples of Latin America, exchanges of experiences and workshops on resistance and mechanisms to fight against the dams were held; the privatization of water and energy on the continent; the effects of dams; the role of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), among others, as responsible for the violation of human rights and privatizations throughout the continent. Issues on legal aspects were also addressed; damage repair; economic integration processes, free trade agreements, the Puebla Panama Plan (PPP) and the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). And for the first time, the issue of the dismantling of dams was addressed in the near horizon of the possibility that past experiences give and the fulfillment of the average lifespan of the majority of the dams built almost 50 years ago. In all these workshops, organizations such as CIEP, MAB, CENSAT, IRN, CIEPAC, COPINH and COCAHICH supported with the facilitation.

Synthesis of the exhibitions of experiences

The synthesis was prepared based on the experiences of the following 13 countries: Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Panama and Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States. Thanks to the excellent live radio coverage from the Indymedia-Chiapas page, the voice of the event even reached the European continent.

Obstacles: The main obstacle to the capitalist system and its production model in the hands of big capital was identified as the main obstacle. The oil crisis that justifies big capital to intensify the exploitation of hydropower with the construction of more and more dams, as well as the tendency to privatize electric power and natural and strategic resources in the market logic, strengthen the alliances between big capital in the hands of a few transnational water and electricity corporations, many times with local names or camouflaged in other companies such as Unión FENOSA, Endesa, Iberdrola, Alcoa, Suez and Vivendi, with governments not only dictatorial but also evil called democratic.

The accumulation of wealth in the hands of transnationals is facilitated through legislative changes in matters of land, water and electricity, through tax exemption for transnationals, through the use of coercion and militarization to silence and criminalize the social mobilization that demands its just demands and respect for human rights. While energy production remains in the hands of the large multinational energy, water, mining or oil industries, among other sectors, more than 20 million Brazilians do not have electricity, an example that is repeated throughout the country. Latin America and the Caribbean.

Challenges: The great challenge for the global social movement is the construction of a new system where all worlds fit. It is the overthrow of the capitalist system to see the birth of a new system where we all fit. Thousands of dams have already been built at the cost of millions of displaced and affected by them. The great challenge for Redlar and the social movement is to free Chile from 40 large dams and 15 other projects, four of which are intended to be built in Patagonia; 494 in Brazil and 942 small dams and avoid the expulsion of another million Brazilians from their lands, 95 projects in Panama, 45 projects in Honduras, 45 projects in Mexico, among many other countries.

Strategies and Actions Implemented: Many strategies and actions have been implemented, including:

  1. Hunger strikes, resistance and blackouts, seizures, burns, roadblocks.
  2. Formation of social, community and family organizations.
  3. Mass struggle, broad and very massive.
  4. The defense of the territory at all costs and prevent the entry of companies and governments to our lands.
  5. Occupation of dams, curtains, roads and highways, government offices and multilateral banks such as IDB and WB.
  6. Marches, sit-ins and blockades.
  7. Public complaints and campaigns.
  8. Discussion forums.
  9. Elaboration of popular material such as videos, manuals, flyers, posters, etc.
  10. Brigades on buses and buses and other means of public transportation to distribute information and raise awareness.
  11. Try to be credible in the information we disseminate
  12. Make legislative proposals.
  13. Counterattack EIAs.
  14. Generate indigenous local promoters who carry out a counter study of the EIA or criticize it.
  15. Relationship with reporters and the press. Press conferences.
  16. Information, dissemination, awareness campaigns.
  17. Bells in schools and universities.
  18. Policy of wide alliances and at the local, national and international level with human rights groups, lawyers, unions, environmentalists, producers, teachers, fishermen, associations, NGOs, the press, and among the peasant, black, indigenous and urban population.
  19. Mobilization actions on the international day of March 14.
  20. Political and financial autonomy from churches, political parties and governments.
  21. Unify local struggles with national ones and other social agendas around the PPP, the FTAA, privatizations, etc.
  22. Strengthen collective leadership.
  23. Boycott shareholders' meetings and official meetings.
  24. Avoid in the discourse the No, No, No, and include the positive discourse of an alternative model.
  25. Filing lawsuits, amparos and other legal actions of a local, national and international nature.
  26. Expulsion of machinery from our lands.
  27. Pressure to negotiate with the government.
  28. Programs in community radios.
  29. Paint electric power meters.
  30. Use ILO Convention 169 to support complaints.
  31. Resistance to non-payment of water and electricity.
  32. Remove signs and marks from studies in our lands.
  33. Initiate a reparations process in the case of the Chixoy dam.
  34. Carry out artistic and educational activities with children.
  35. Carry out plebiscites.
  36. House to house bell.

Errors and Failures: We have to learn from experience to advance in the process and therefore we recognize that ...

  1. We have fallen into the error of thinking that only we can stop the dams.
  2. We have fallen into the error that the organization to fight repesas remains only at the local level.
  3. We have fallen into the mistake of relying too much on political parties and the government.
  4. We have fallen into the error of leaving the authorities and leaders alone as they have been bought, co-opted, tired, bored, and abandon the fight or are killed.
  5. We have not strengthened broad alliances with various sectors and we have stayed locally without opening up to the national and international level.
  6. We have fallen into the error of depending on the financing of NGOs or another actor without generating autonomy in our organization.
  7. We have fallen into the error of thinking that the problem was only ours and not a global problem.
  8. We have fallen into the error of not joining other key sectors such as universities or groups of lawyers.
  9. We have trusted ourselves and we have let our guard down.
  10. We have fallen into the error of not believing in ourselves and of having an incoherence between discourse and political practice.
  11. We have fallen into the error of having trusted in the promises of development and well-being that the government has made us for a dam.

Achievements: The anti-dam movement and for life, rivers, communities and water have achieved important victories. In Latin America we can celebrate and shout for joy because ...

  1. We have liberated Chile and its rivers from 5 dams.
  2. We have liberated Ecuador and the world from two other dams.
  3. We have suspended the Itzantún dam and the current fight against the La Parota dam in Mexico is hope for another liberated river and people.
  4. We have freed Panama and its people from yet another prey.
  5. We have freed Costa Rica from five dams on the Pacuare River.
  6. We have freed Paraguay from privatization and waterway laws
  7. We have stopped the privatization of water in El Salvador.
  8. We have stopped the construction of dams in Honduras.
  9. We have formed local, national and regional networks and fronts.
  10. We have strengthened and increased citizen awareness and participation around the issues of dams, energy, water, privatizations, etc.
  11. We have managed to involve in the struggle and unite sectors such as churches, movements and organizations.
  12. Catholic and evangelical religious leaders have been articulated in the struggles of the peoples.
  13. Being in this III Meeting is one of the main achievements and hopes.
  14. But something more fundamental than all this, women have stood out in the fight against reprisals throughout the continent.

The martyrs for the dams are present in those murdered in Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Ecuador and other countries where our brothers have given their lives for us, to fight for a world with living rivers, for a better world for everyone. . Their struggle has not been and will not be in vain.

The Solidarity

The participants in the meeting signed three letters of solidarity addressed to the different levels of government in various countries. One of these letters refers to the rejection of the construction of the La Parota Dam in Mexico and the clarification of the murder of Tomás Cruz. Another addressed to the National Electrification Institute (INDE) demanding the withdrawal of legal accusations against indigenous leaders who carry out the process of repairing damages by the World Bank and the IDB for the construction of the Chixoy dam. The third is addressed to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, demanding an end to the criminalization of social and environmental struggles and claiming the constitutional right to free expression and demonstration. This letter is addressed with a copy to the governments of the countries represented in the meeting and to organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Conference of Major Superiors of Religious, the presidency of Caritas in Latin America, the International Court of Justice , among other.

The Action Plan

Many ideas were poured into the action plan regarding education and awareness. It was proposed to intensify the search for decentralized, local and sustainable alternatives for access to water and electricity; expand alliances; linking with other networks and movements; strengthen research and educational material; strengthen the legal strategy and reparations processes; promote the ratification of ILO Convention 169 in countries where they have not been ratified; improve communication and dissemination mechanisms; generate plebiscites; and create a Latin American school on alternatives to dams, water capture, and electricity generation. The controversial point revolved around the proposal that Redlar members would not receive resources and financing from the IFI’s. While for some it was difficult to approach the damage repair processes and force the IDB and the World Bank to add up their responsibility to compensate for damages when it came to economic or infrastructure repairs; for others, it was difficult to raise it with peasant and indigenous communities and organizations that were in great need of resources. Given this, although it remains a general principle, it will be adapted to the circumstances of each country.

Among the focal elements at the organization level was the commitment to conform the national fronts What is needed. In the Mesoamerican case, the national antirepress network in Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua has yet to be formed, while Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama have already created them and, in the case of South America, only the MAB of Brazil has its network national. At the level of mobilization, March 14 was ratified as the International Day Against Dams and a myriad of various actions were deployed to be carried out on that day in 2006. It should be noted that within the action plan the Continental campaign against Spanish electricity companies Unión Fenosa and Endesa due to the violation of human rights, the excessive costs of electricity after the privatizations, among other effects that they have brought to the peoples of the continent. In this framework, a call for solidarity and joint actions is made to the solidarity brothers and sisters of Spain and the various organizations such as COAGRET to join the campaign. The campaign will begin on March 14, 2006 with the mobilizations in the framework of the International Day Against Dams while preparations for the campaign are being carried out.

The new one Coordination of the Latin American Network Against Dams (Redlar) will be in the hands of the organizations representing the countries of Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Redlar proposes an IV Meeting for 2008 after the III International Meeting on Dams.

The declaration

Chixoy statement
October 21, 2005

III Meeting of the Latin American Network Against Dams and for the Rivers, their Communities and Water

Colonia El Naranjo, Cubulco, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala

From the lands of Chixoy, a river that in its waters bears the blood of 444 peasants, native peoples, indigenous people, women, youth, children and elderly Guatemalans who resisted the construction of the dam and were massacred in 1982 by the repressive military apparatus; 418 representatives of indigenous and black peoples, women, social, environmental, religious, peasant, human rights organizations, trade unionists, universities and alternative media from 14 countries in Latin America and guests from 6 countries in North America, Europe and Japan; they stand in solidarity with the brothers of the American continent who suffer exclusion and damage from the last hurricanes, a clear example of global climate change to which large dams contribute, and whose main responsibility is the ‘developed’ countries.

Considering that the insatiable accumulation of wealth of the capitalist system and wrong development models has led to the stopping of the blood and veins of our planet by damming 60% of its rivers, there are more than 80 million displaced people, thousands of deaths and destruction of ecosystems unique with the construction of 45 thousand dams in the world. International Financial Institutions and large transnational corporations have enriched themselves at the cost of the impoverishment and exclusion of millions of people, and they have also generated irreversible environmental impacts that have even had an impact on climate change. Currently, this situation will deepen with the signing of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) and Bilateral Free Trade Agreements, the privatization processes of public services and regional integration plans such as the Puebla Panama Plan (PPP) and the Initiative for the Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure (IIRSA) ...


1. Support the complaint against the Government of Guatemala before the Inter-American Court of Justice for its complicity with the silence and lack of clarification regarding the brutal torture and murders that occurred in 1982, of residents who demanded their rights, as well as the lack of objections for damage caused by the dam.
2. Promote that the Latin American countries sign an Agreement that decriminalizes the social and environmental struggles that are taking place.
3. Unify the claim of the accumulated ecological and social debt owed to the peoples of Latin America, the International Financial Institutions, the national governments and the companies benefited from the construction of dams.
4. Reaffirm the will to strengthen the local, regional and international organizations of peoples affected by the construction of dams so that they are protagonists of their own history.
5. Strengthen alliances between various sectors seeking the formation of broad fronts against mega-dams in all Latin American countries, reaffirming the value of the presence of broad sectors of the Churches of different faiths, the worldviews of native peoples, local authorities, alternative media, women and youth in social struggles.
6. Strengthen the struggle that has started in many of our countries for the non-privatization of energy and water in favor of multinational companies.
7. Maintain the campaigns of denunciation and pressure on the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank for their responsibility in financing destructive projects.
8. Strengthen and promote actions against Financial Institutions, transnational companies such as ENDESA, UNION FENOSA, SUEZ, VIVENDI and against the governments that defend their interests, that promote Environmental Justice in all hydroelectric megaprojects in operation or under construction.
9. Enforce respect for the will of the peoples of Costa Rica, Guatemala and Argentina, who have expressed through a plebiscite their rejection of the construction of the Paquare, Río Hondo and Corpus Christi hydroelectric plants.
10. Support the various legal actions against the damages caused by the dams, promoted by the peoples of Paraguay, Guatemala, Brazil and all the countries of Latin America before national and international bodies such as the Inter-American Court of Justice.
11. Recognize the achievements in Chile and the freedom to its rivers of 5 dams, Ecuador of 2 dams, in Panama of 7 dams, in Argentina the Law that declares territory free of dams to the province of Entre Ríos, to Costa Rica from 5 dams on the Paquare river, the suspension of the Itzantún dam and the current fight against the La Parota dam in Mexico that is hope for another liberated river and people, the freedom of Paraguay from privatization laws and the arrest of the privatization of water in El Salvador and Nicaragua.
12. Reaffirm March 14 as the International Day of Action Against Dams and summon the peoples to mobilize on that date.

Convinced that joint work is getting stronger and stronger, we continue to stand proposing a different model, hand in hand with the peoples and the goods of nature.

Free rivers for free peoples!
Water for life, not for death!


Participants totaled around 112 organizations peasant, indigenous, social, human rights, environmentalists, NGOs, Catholic and evangelical churches, networks, fronts, movements, alternative media, indigenous nations and community representatives. Among them: Ecological Action; Community Coordinating Association for Health Service (ACCSS); ACODEMA; Association of Forest Communities of Peten (Acofop); ACUDESBAL; ADIVIMA; Affected by YASYRETA; Naso Alliance; Alliance for the Defense of Natural Resources; Alliance for Life and Peace; AMER; Friends of the Earth-Brazil; Rede Brasil on international financial institutions; Friends of the Pacuare River-Proal-FECON; Assembly of God Mount the Olives; ASCRA; Frankfurt-Granada-Nicaragua Friendship Association; Consumers Association-Nicaragua; Qeqchi Petén Indigenous Council Association (COCODE); Sayaxche Petén Victims Association; ASPROCIG; National Atarraya; C.M. Congregation of the Mission; Major Councils Embera Katio; Caritas Chalatenango; House of the Woman- Bocana de Paiwas; CCDA; CCPI; CECOP- Parota; CENSAT-Living Water; Center for Economic Justice (CEJ); Cepavg; Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA); CIEP - Petén; CIEPAC; COCAHICH; COCODES; CODEFF; Collective Editorial Alert; Collective Italy-Central America; Inter-Ethnic Commission PCN; Carolina Ecological Committee; COMPA-NICARAGUA; COMPPS; Bajo Lempa Community; Llano de la Virgen Communities; CONAPANG; CONDEG; Qeqchi Indigenous Council; Coop.Prod.Minera La Libertad; Cooperativa "La Resistencia"; Cooperativa Hábitat RL; Coord. Diocesan of Women; Regional Coordinator for the Defense of Life and Nature of the Guayas River Basin; COPINH; CORAF; CIMARRON; LIME; COVA; Wedge Pirú; Delegate. Mov. Indigenous Jinotega; Rights in Action; Diocese of Chalatenango- Cristo Rey el Paraíso Parish; Ecosystems; EDUPAZ; Estancia-Morazán; ETESC / technical team in community health education; Lutheran World Federation; FGT; FOREN; Chiapaneco Front Against Dams; Petenero Front Against Dams; UNITED FRONT IN DEFENSE OF THE ECOSYSTEM (FUDECO); FUNPROCOP- Indigenous Council Los Pasos del Jaguar; FUNPROCOP / Cooperative Promoting Foundation; Theater group; Alii-Alaa Theater Group; Church Christ calls you; Evangelic church; Nazarene Church; IRN; KUPURI; The bees; MAB; Maya Petén; Global Table; Looks; Monexico (Council of Nahuat and Chorotega Indigenous Peoples); Compa (Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas); OFRANEH; Southern Indigenous Organization of La Guayra; Dulce Nombre de María Parish-El Salvador; San Antonio de Padova Parish-El Salvador; San Antonio del Mosco Parish-El Salvador; Pastoral de la Tierra-Guatemala; Pastoral Social de Ixcán; Pastoral Social- Guatemala; Pastoral Social Lanquin Alta Verapaz- Guatemala; PSI; Bridge of Peace / Ixcán; Radio Libertad-Guatemala; Real World Radio - Uruguay; Representatives of Nueva Esperanza Communities; Community Representatives Envy; Representatives of the Río Negro Communities; Mayan priest; Legal and Social Services (SERJUS); Survival Friends of the Earth; Ecologist Workshop; Northern Union for Life-FECON; Verapacense Union of Peasant Organizations (Uvoc); and Spokesperson for the Pillan Mahuiza communities.


Gustavo Castro Soto placeholder image

[1] To see other documents and methodology of the meeting see

Video: Third meeting of the Latin American Network of Soil Laboratories LATSOLAN, Day 1 (May 2022).


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