February 12, 2014 | by Josh King
PATAGONIA — Mujeres sin Fronteras (Women Without Borders), a group of around 40 Mapuche women from Chile and Argentina, traveled from the Puelo Valley to Puerto Varas last Thursday (a journey that took them five days) in order to reach a small tourist town where they began their protest.
Headed by Chilean energy company Mediterráneo and Italian-based Endesa, the plan involves the construction of a dam over 300-feet high and a generator in the Río Puelo river, which runs through both Chile and Argentina.
The group claims that the dam could cause over 12, 000 acres of land to be flooded, spanning both Chile and Argentina, and that they are determined to protect their land and retain its natural beauty. President of the group, Maria Isabel Navarrete, gave a speech outlining their aims, hopes and personal fears during this protest. “We want the authorities to know our way of life, that we live free from pollution of our waters and without pylons,” she stressed.
Navarrete claimed the people behind it are “terrorists hiding behind the law”, as it is suggested that the local government are trying to pass this bill quickly before President-elect Michelle Bachelet comes into power next month. She also claims that these companies are only out to destroy this natural land in order to supply enough energy for Northern Chile’s mining companies.
Although it is still to be approved by the environmental authorities, this controversial plan has left many of these women, and indeed many communities who live in the river basin, fearing for the future of the valley, as well as their own personal fate.
Source: I Love Chile