Over the weekend, Mapuche-Huilliche communities from the area around Maihue lake met to discuss the proposed construction of a hydroelectric dam, Central Maqueo, by the Norwegian company Trayenko (an affiliate of SN Power in Chile). The communities, located in the Futrono and Lago Ranco Comunas in the Los Ríos Region, are concerned primarily about the socio-environmental impacts that the megaproject will produce. The meeting was aimed at studying these impacts, which will in turn allow the communities to more effectively confront the issues.
The president of the Rupumeica Bajo community, Elsa Panguilef, highlighted the importance of the meeting for developing a unified strategy between all the affected communities. The meeting also offered the opportunity for the communities to publicly and unanimously make known their rejection of the hydroelectric project. In addition to anticipating the future problems that the hydroelectric project could bring, the Huilliche communities also have concerns related to activities already taking place within their territories.
As an example of the type of concerns being discussed, another leader from Rupumeica Bajo, Osvaldo Panguilef, indicated that the dam construction could reduce water flow in the region by nearly 90%. This would place serious pressures on the water needs of the Indigenous communities, particularly for fishing activities and the availability of medicinal plants.
The Coordinator of the Indigenous Rights Program at the Observatorio Ciudadano, Blaise Pantel, also discussed the importance of this meeting for the Huilliche communities by noting the need to bring visibility to the communities concerns and opinions. This is particularly important, according to Blaise, in light of the fact that Chile does not have in place an adequate consultation mechanism that complies with ILO Convention 169.
The communities involved with the meeting were: Rupumeica Alto y Bajo, Calcurrupe, Curriñe, Maihue, Huequecura, Caunahue, Chollinco, Auquinco, and Riñinahue. The Consejo de Lonkos de Pikún Willi Mapu also participated.