PBI-Colombia accompanies dhColombia in Antioquia, organizations raise concerns about Ituango dam

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 28, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “Last week PBI accompanied @dhColombia [the Associated Network of Human Rights Defenders] in Toledo in #Antioquia. On July 16, several local organizations, affected by the megaproject #Hidroituango, gave an account; the next day they delivered a report to the #CommissionDeLaVerdad [the Commission for the Clarification of the Truth, Coexistence and Non-Repetition].”

Toledo is about 50 kilometres south of Hidroituango, a hydroelectric dam megaproject on the Cauca River in northwest Colombia.

This also comes at a time when more than 4,000 people have been displaced from 31 villages in the area since July 21 because of the threat of armed conflict between FARC dissidents and the Clan del Golfo paramilitary. The delivery of aid to the displaced has been made more difficult by heavy rains causing nearly 50 landslides.

As for the Hidroituango dam, Isabel Cristina Zuleta of the Rios Vivos movement says: “Since its launch in 1997, this megaproject has been imposed by violence and the forced displacement of the population, victims of the armed conflict.”

Significantly for people in Canada, Marie-Ève ​​Marleau of the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL) has highlighted: “The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Export Development Canada are financing this project.”

Above Ground has also noted: “EPM, a Colombian state-owned enterprise, has twice benefitted from the support of Export Development Canada (EDC) in recent years. In 2016 and 2017, EDC provided EPM with financing totalling between 500 million and one billion dollars.”

In June 2018, The Guardian reported: “Zuleta worries about the security of those who campaign against the dam: two other Ríos Vivos members in Antioquia were murdered last month, part of a worrying trend in Colombia.”

Frontline Defenders has posted: “On 2 May 2018, human rights defender Hugo Albeiro George Pérez was shot and killed by an unknown individual, while he was participating in a peaceful protest to oppose the impact of Hidroituango… The human rights defender’s nephew, Domar Egidio Zapata George, was also killed in the attack.”

And in September 2013, Radio Mundo Real reported that Rios Vivos leader Nelson Giraldo Posada was brutally killed. “He was found by the shore of river Cauca with his throat slit and bullets in his chest and legs.”

Preliminary construction on the dam began in September 2011 and the in-service date is expected to be June 2022 (for one turbine), December 2023 (with four turbines) and 2025 (for the remaining four turbines).

Isabel Zuleta speaking in Ottawa in November 2019.

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