Chile: Massive Protests Continue Against Hidroaysén Power Station

This post is part of a series on the approval of the construction of  Hidroaysén hydroelectric power station. Read all about the project, the “for” and “against” arguments and the initial reactions when the news was revealed.

After the approval of the construction of the Hidroaysén hydrolectric power station in the  Aysén region of the Chilean  Patagonia on May 9, 2011, there have been many protests around the country.

According to radio station Cooperativa [es]:

The demonstrations managed to unite 7,000 people in Plaza Italia, in the capital Santiago […] The protests continue in cities like Coyhaique -directly in front of the Environmental Evaluation Commission-, Concepción, Temuco, Valparaíso and Valdivia, where police dispersed the crowd with tear gas in a protest of about 500 people.

The protests continue daily, as well as a second massive call which brought 30,000 people to the streets on May 13. The online periodical  El Mostrador [es] commented:

Ecological groups have marched everyday against this initiative and the protests will continue until May 21st, the day that the mandate will hand in a published account of the affairs of the project to Parliament.

Medical doctor and Twitter user, Alvaro Rivas (@alvarorivasMD), sent a live link [es] of the march through TwitCasting. With a cameraphone, he attended the peaceful demonstration and witnessed the police repression. He even came to the aid of a woman who was suffering a panic attack due to the tear gas thrown.

Alvaro's narrative was followed and celebrated by many, above all, because national television was not covering the news.

The No to Hidroaysén protest in front of La Moneda. Santiago, Chile 13 May, 2011. Photo by Flickr user Flavio_Camus (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The No to Hidroaysén protest in front of La Moneda. Santiago, Chile 13 May, 2011. Photo by Flickr user Flavio_Camus (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Javier Chijani (@jchijani) made a  comment on the issue:

#NoaHidroaysen#RenunciaHinzpeter Esperando que canales den la Noticia importante del dia. O la pasaran por alto. #Chv #Mega #TVN#C13

#NoaHidroaysen #RenunciaHinzpeter Hoping that the news channels give the important news of the day. Or, they will overlook it. #Chv #Mega #TVN #C13

Marcelo Aliaga (@maliaga) also commented on the lack of coverage of the local newscasts, adding:

Lo que NO saldrá en el noticiario ni en las portadas de mañana // no necesitamos una TV vendida.

What will NOT be on the news or the morning papers tomorrow // we don't need a sold-out television.

The protesters informed Alvaro of where to go and helped him by adding information to his Twitter coverage.

Javier Aguirre Mansilla [es] commented on Facebook:

alvaro te estan viendo en santiago concepcion talcahuano arica iquique, vamos buen trabajo

Alvaro, we are watching you in Santiago, Concepción, Talcahuano, Arica, Iquique. Good job!

Sebastían Olate (@nostok_) mentioned on Twitter:

Debes cubrir hacia otros lados Alvaro!! Continua por calles alternativas hacia Sta Lucia!!

You should report from other locations Alvaro!!! Go to other streets towards Sta Lucia!!

Besides the live videos, many Twitter users shared photos and their impressions on one of the liveliest marches in Chile in a long time.

No to Hidroaysén March. Taken on May 10, 2011 in Valparaíso, Chile. Photo from Flickr user Trovador Errante (CC BY-NC-NC 2.0).

No to Hidroaysén March. Taken on May 10, 2011 in Valparaíso, Chile. Photo from Flickr user Trovador Errante (CC BY-NC-NC 2.0).

Journalist Lorena Muñoz Mizon (@loladotcom) commented:

qué bonita marcha!!! la gente sentada haciendo el signo de la paz enfrenta el agua

What a lovely march!!! People sitting showing the peace sign in front of the water

The newspaper PublimetroChile (@PublimetroChile) informed:

Miles de manifestantes protestan frente a La Moneda por HidroAysén

Thousands of protesters in front of  La Moneda against HidroAysén #HidroAysen

Sentidos Comunes (@sentidoscomunes) shared:

Ya publicamos las fotos de la protesta #noahidroaysén de hoy. Véanlas aquí

We already uploaded photos of the protest #noahidroaysén today. See them here:

One of the things that netizens emphasized was the strong police repression in the protest in Santiago and other cities across the country.

In Santiago, the blogger of El Beat del Tambor narrated on his/her Twitter account (@elbeatdeltambor):

Gente vomita en metro por gases toxicos arrojados por policia chilena#Patagoniasinrepresas #Noahidroaysen

People vomiting in the metro because of toxic gases sprinkled by Chilean police #Patagoniasinrepresas #Noahidroaysen

Angello Poggini (@APoggini) points out:

se supone que la marcha #noahidroaysen estaba autorizada hasta las 9, era todo pacifico hasta que salieron los pacos [policías] a dejar la caga [a arruinarlo].

the march #noahidroaysen was supposed to be authorized up until 9, but everything was quiet until the cops came and ruined it.

Programmer  Sebastián Araos (@seba_araos) repudiates the police repression:

@Carabdechile es una verguenza lo que uds hacen reprimiendo una protesta que comenzo pacifica… Uds trajeron la violencia. #noahidroaysen

@Carabdechile [police] is a disgrace, repressing what started off as a a peaceful protest… you brought the violence! #noahidroaysen

The same thing happened in other cities in Chile, such as Iquique, where cybernaut Daniela Martínez informed us through the  Radio Bio-Bio webpage [es] of the following:

Asamblea ciudadana contra la aprobación de las termoeléctricas en la ciudad de Iquique convocada a la comunidad de la ciudad y distintas organizaciones sociales para movilizarse y llamar a plebiscito.

Esta terminó en una gran marcha por la ciudad interrumpida por Carabineros con lanza agua y lacrimógenas de forma desmedida

Citizen assembly against the approval of thermoelectric plants in the city of Iquique organised by the community and different public organisations for mobilization and for calling a referendum.

This resulted in a big demonstration throughout the city, interrupted by the Chilean police with water and tear gas launchers in unmeasurable amounts.

The independant daily paper El Navegable shared some videos [es]about the encounters between protesters and police in the protest on May 10 in Valdivia.

Also, there have been international protests in Barcelona, Hamburg, and Rome against Hidroaysén. The Patagonia Sin Represas (Patagonia without Dams) webpage shows a good  summary of the protests [es] in Chile and in the world.

There has been a call for massive protests via social networks on May 21, 2011, the day President Sebastián Piñera will deliver the annual budget message to the nation.


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