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Victory for Asháninka against Amazonian dam-builders

Indigenous Peoples
Human Rights

Asháninka people of the River Ene are determined to keep dam builders out.
Photo by Vanessa Baird.

Multinational dam-builder Odebrecht has ditched its plans to build the Tambo 40 hydroelectic plant on Peru’s Rio Tambo.

The Brazilian company said that its decision was taken ‘out of respect for the views of local populations’ trying to defend their livelihoods and save their villages from inundation.

Resistance from the 10,000-strong Asháninka community of the Tambo-Ene river basin, was the subject of a special report in October’s New Internationalist.

Odebrecht’s decision, communicated in a letter to the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines, has been welcomed by indigenous organizations and international NGOs that support them.

Ruth Buendia, president of the Centro Asháninka del Rio Ene (CARE) said: ‘It’s very important that Odebrecht have respected the desire of our communities to live in peace in the territory where we have always lived. We ask the Peruvian Government to stop granting concessions in our territory.’

Two other dam projects for the area, Pakitzapango and Tambo 60 are still on the cards. At risk are the homes and livelihoods of thousands of Asháninka people and 73,000 hectares of forest and farmland.

The Brazilian utility company Electrobras is planning to build Tambo 60, while the situation with regard to Pakitzapango is currently unclear. Electrobras is one of the key designers in an original agreement under which Peru would supply electrical power to Brazil.

Peruvian president Ollanta Humala has recently recommitted his government to this energy accord with Brazil, in spite of calls from indigenous and environmental groups to review the agreement made by his predecessor, Alan García.

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