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The Looting of Patagonia Has Begun, Say Chile Dam Opponents

Activists in southern Chile’s sparsely-populated Region XI (Aysen), alarmed by what they describe as the planned “looting” of the area’s pristine waterways, are clamoring for local and regional authorities to at least acknowledge what’s taking place.

Aysen, home to some of the country’s most pristine wilderness, also boasts an abundance of powerful, glacier-fed rivers. A potential windfall of hydroelectric energy, those rivers are more and more attracting the attention of large energy companies. Indeed, utility giants Endesa and Colbun have a shared plan to dam the region’s two largest rivers: the Baker and the Pascua. Their so-called $4 billion Aysen Project, if approved by the government, will be the largest hydroelectric venture in the country’s history.
The project has drawn a host of local, national, and international critics, who say it threatens the region both socially and environmentally. Not only does the plan involve flooding approximately 93 square kilometers of wilderness, but it also calls for building a 2,000-kilometer transmission line

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