Temas Especiales

03 de Aug de 2020

Nacional

Water woes in Valley of the Moon

It is not just the number of individual projects themselves that are raising their hackles as the indiscriminate way in which the contra...

It is not just the number of individual projects themselves that are raising their hackles as the indiscriminate way in which the contracts are allegedly being awarded without adequate planning, without public consultation and without proper consideration for the human and environmental impact.

“The powers that be are only interested in getting people to come and invest and it doesn’t matter what kind of investment it is or where the money comes from,” said Raquel I. Coba Boyd, spokesperson for the Associacion Ecologista de Panama (COLIBRIS).

Hydroelectric companies stand to make substantial profits exporting electricity as Panama connects to neighboring grids in Central and North America.

“But what is more important - the benefits of water to my community or the financial gain of some business man?”

“The problem is that nothing has been planned. What bothers us is that our governors are giving so many concessions for our water resources to foreigners and powerful Panamanians.

We’re putting the control of all of our water into the hands of just a few.. Our lives depend on water. In the future, the people who are in control of the water will be able to control everyone else. But whose water is it?”

According to COLIBRIS, some of the concessions allow the hydroelectric companies to divert 90percenr of river flow leaving just 10 per cent to fill aqueducts for human consumption, livestock use, agriculture, and to sustain the ecosystem. And the hydroelectric companies themselves decide just how much constitutes 90 per cent.

“Will there really be enough water left in the ecosystem to guarantee its survival or that the tree seedlings they are planting will grow, especially in the summer. They have already cut down all the mature trees even though scientists all over the world are telling us that it is a crime, in particular along river banks. Those 50 and 100-year old trees were already producing oxygen, acting as a carbon sink, protecting against erosion and much more. Now we have to wait for all the little seedlings to grow. This is what people don’t realize. They don’t analyze the realities. We are very worried.”

COLIBRIS is calling on the Martinelli government to bring about change.

“We want the authorities to pay attention before it is too late. But we know that there are some people involved in the current administration who are also involved in some of the hydroelectric projects and it remains to be seen if they will do things in the right way or follow their own self interests.

We have to struggle for the truth. How can we make people understand that there are limits - we cannot go on destroying. Why don’t they see that Panama’s value lies in its forests and trees and nature and that once you destroy it, its value has gone forever.”