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Over 120 actions in around 34 countries of different parts of the world are being carried out this Thursday and the following days to celebrate the “International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life”.
International Rivers, an organization that works at world level to protect rivers and the rights of the communities that depend on them, is organizing many actions, after several social networks called to mobilizations on this March 14.
These are the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defense of Rivers (MAPDER), the Movement of Dam-Affected People of Brazil (MAB), the National Network of Peoples Affected and Threatened by Dams of Colombia, the Movement of People Affected by Dams of El Salvador (MONARES), the Coordination of People Affected by El Cimarron Dam in that country (CORAF-CIMARRON), and the Convergence of Movements of Peoples of the Americas (COMPA).
In February, organizations from Australia, England, Chile, Tanzania, Canada, China, Finland, Spain, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Portugal, US, South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Togo, Albany, Georgia, Iran, Iraq y Bosnia Herzegovina, among other countries, joined the call to demonstrate.
In some states, the struggle against hydroelectric dams can be a serious risk for social activists, who risk being killed. Large private companies willing to pay hired assassins to avoid problems are common in different parts of the world.
According to an article published by Revista Fragua, the World Commission on Dams estimated that the 45,000 works of this type built in the 20th Century caused the displacement of nearly 80 million people. Only in Mexico, there were 170,000 displaced people.
Since the 90s, there has been a growing international movement of people affected by dams who have slowly become local, regional, national, continental and global groups. These groups work together to change the world energy model, believing that it is fundamental to preserve basins and their populations in a natural and sustainable way.
According to Revista Fragua, the idea of having a world day of action emerged in Curitiba, Brazil, during the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams, in 1997, that declared: “We are strong, diverse and united in a fair cause. In order to exemplify our growing unity, we declared March 14, previously the Day of Struggle against Dams in Brazil, as the International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life”.
In Mexico there have been and there will continue to be numerous actions by MAPDER in different regions. In Jalisco state, there will be activities against El Zapotillo dam, but there will also be actions in Oaxaca and Veracruz states, for instance.
Meanwhile, the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change of Central America (MOVIAC), the Latin American Network against Dams and for Rivers, their communities and water (REDLAR), and the Mesoamerican Movement against the Mining Extractive Model (M4) carried out on Tuesday the forum “For Water, against Mining and Dams”, in El Salvador.
In Honduras, the walk for Dignity and Sovereignty “Step by Step” arrived to Tegucigalpa, the capital of the country, on March 6th and demanded a solution to problems related to dams, the defense of Lempira, Intibuca and La Paz Rivers, mining, territories, feminicides and political prisoners.
Meanwhile, in Colombia, the Asoquimbo Association will start today a regional strike in Huila department, in opposition to the El Quimbo dam. At national level, the Movimiento Rios Vivos mobilized to demand that the people affected by dams are included in the census carried out by the companies in charge of the hydroelectric dams. In addition, the movement called academics to speak up, appealing to the principle of the defense of the territory, in actions that will take place until March 22nd, World Water Day.
In Brazil, people affected by dams will mobilize on Thursday to demand the creation of a national policy that ensures their rights and to strengthen the struggle for a popular energy model. In joint actions with rural and urban workers, the people affected by hydroelectric dams oppose the high electricity rates, water and energy privatization, and the investment of public funds in private works. From June 3 to 7, the MAB will carry out its National Meeting in Sao Paulo. 5000 people are expected to participate.
In addition, in Palo Alto, California, International Rivers will conduct a joint activity with the citizen movement of Patagonia, by the Searsville dam. There will be other activities in the basins of rivers Zambezi and Shire of Tanzania, Mary of Australia, Globetrotter of the UK, Oulu of Finland, Narmda of India, Yangtze in China and Drina, in Serbia/Bosnia Herzegovina, among others.
There will also be numerous actions in Pakistan, the Chilean Patagonia, Spain, Portugal, Ethiopia, Togo, South Africa, Iraq and Albany, among others.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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