Maipo Libre

While traveling in Chile, my friends and I took a bus from Santiago to San Juan de Maipo where we met Marcos Acevedo, a local business owner of Turismo Montaña.  Acevedo offered to drive us up the river valley to an area where we could camp for a few days and rock climb.   During the drive, I noticed a sticker on the window of his pickup truck.  Acevedo didn't speak English, so I had my friends ask him about the sticker.   I had three people helping me to translate as Acevedo began to tell us a passionate story about his involvement in the Maipo Libre movement to protect the region from the hydroelectric dam, Alto Maipo.   

 A Maipo Libre sticker shows the Andean Condor flying free above a free flowing river. 

A Maipo Libre sticker shows the Andean Condor flying free above a free flowing river. 

The multi-year Alto Maipo project is already underway and is scheduled to be complete in about two years.  The dam will provide power to mining operations.  

Acevedo stated that "we all need energy, but the point is that there is different electricity options.  This hydroelectric dam will not create power for the town but rather for copper mining."   He added that this dam will be much larger than several small, existing dams and potentially devastating to the flow of the river.   Acevedo runs a tourism operation where he guides hiking, river rafting and kayaking, skiing, and sightseeing.  His life is close to the river and he fears that the dam will negatively impact the area in many ways. 

 Marcos Acevedo, a local business owner of Turismo Montaña and advocate for the Maipo Libre movement.  

Marcos Acevedo, a local business owner of Turismo Montaña and advocate for the Maipo Libre movement.  

Acevedo explained that the project is being built near a national monument where there are protected animals and vegetation.  He feels the dam could impact the wildlife and local agriculture.  "The mine will take a large part of the water flow of the river," Acevedo stated.  "Tourism will be injured."     

He has been actively working with his community to oppose the dam for many years.   He said that many people oppose the dam yet they are losing the fight and he knows the dam will be finished soon.  

Acevedo said that despite a potential impact on rafting, he is going to stay in the valley.   He commented that he will always be here.  "I live here, this is my house." 

 Rio Volcán runs through a valley in the Cajón del Maipo region in the northern Andes.   

Rio Volcán runs through a valley in the Cajón del Maipo region in the northern Andes.   

 

Acevedo directed us to a YouTube video and Facebook Page with additional information about their ongoing campaign against the hydroelectric dam.  You can learn more using the links below.   

El Cajón del Maipo está en riesgo, pues la empresa AES Gener pretende instalar una central hidroeléctrica de paso en lo alto del Cajón. El proyecto contempla la construcción de un túnel de 70 kilómetros de largo, que necesita el agua de los ríos Yeso, Colorado y Volcán para generar la energía eléctrica presentada al momento de exponer el proyecto.