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Yesterday, and after almost six months camping outside Santander´s government building, in Bucaramanga, 73 families affected by the Hidrosogamoso dam returned to their homes after reaching an agreement with the government and the company in charge of the hydroelectric project, Isagen. Nevertheless, the struggle by these families against the dam will not stop.
Isagen agreed to grant Santander´s government a 50-hectare land in San Vicente de Chucuri municipality, one of the many municipalities affected by Hidrosogamoso.
Sanchez said that “Isagen never accepts all the damage caused to us” and that´s why it has created this strategy with which it is granting 50 hectares to the departmental government to give it to the families affected. In this way, the company is not assuming their responsibility for the displacements and that is why it grants lands through a third party”, stated Ricardo Sanchez, member of the Social Movement in Defense of the Sogamoso River and the Colombian Movement in Defense of the Territory and People Affected by Dams “Rios Vivos”.
Almost six months ago, 120 families marched during three days from the Hidrosogamoso area to Bucaramanga. The Governor never received them and that´s why they decided to set up a campsite there. They communicated with the government through a mediator. With time, some families, especially those with elders, had to return to their homes and today have to live in other areas because they have been displaced. 73 families stood outside the government building. Of them, some of the eldest members were housed in the facilities of the Central Workers Union (CUT) of Santander.
According to our interviewee, the goal was clearly to demand the Environment Ministry and Isagen to comply with national and international treaties to avoid the continued violation of rights of local communities affected by the hydroelectric project.
Sanchez highlighted that three leaders of the movement have been murdered, others have been disappeared, and several are being threatened due to demanding the protection of their rights. He recognized that they don´t have any evidence to directly incriminate the company, but they blame it for all the “violations suffered”.
In November 2012, Real World Radio reported that on October 31st that year, leader Miguel Angel Pabon Pabon, activist of the Social Movement in Defense of the Sogamoso River and also member of Rios Vivos had disappeared in San Vicente de Chucurí municipality, where the lands that will be granted to the 73 families are located. Miguel Angel appeared murdered some days later.
But also, the families affected by Hidrosogamoso highlight that their livelihoods have been damaged. They are fisher families, farmers and artisanal miners who lost the possibility of continue doing what they did. That is why they have filed a complaint against Isagen to seek compensation.
Nevertheless, Sanchez was clear in saying that the resistance against Hidrosogamoso will not end with the trial or for having accessed lands. “Our struggle will continue until we make our governments understand that we don´t want any more dams”, he concluded.
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