Indigenous Activists Give Up Fight Over Chilean Dam

After a six-year protest, four elderly Pehuenche women have agreed to end their opposition to a $570 million hydroelectric dam to be built on their ancestral land in Southern Chile. After lengthy negotiations with the Chilean government and Endesa, the Spanish-owned power company building the dam, the women agreed to accept $1.2 million and 761 acres of land in exchange for ending the protest. The company and the government say the 540-megawatt dam is crucial to meeting Chile’s energy needs; environmental and indigenous activists say it will flood sacred land, destroy endangered wildlife and burial sites, and harm the Pehuenche way of life. The leader of the four women, Berta Quintreman, told Chilean President Ricardo Lagos that “her heart ached” upon signing the agreement.