Quellón, Chile - In the dwindling light of a crisp autumn evening, snow-covered Corcovado and its sister peaks shine pink above the silhouetted fishing boats that stretch out beyond the harbor in Quellón. The alpine glow is short-lived, though, and as the sun drops below the horizon. "The city is full of people just walking around," said Juana Chiguay, a union leader and assembly line worker in a local salmon processing plant. "Before it wasn't like that."
Alejandro Koehler showed up in Valdivia, Chile last October convinced he had the legal arguments in hand to block a large-scale dam project planned for the nearby San Pedro River. He was wrong. Soon after presenting his case before the regional environmental authority, the then mayor of Panguipulli found himself - along with 20 other critics of the project - being dragged out of the government office by riot gear-clad Carabineros.
Chile's Biobío River, already home to two huge hydroelectric power stations, may soon be dammed yet again - this time by Chilean energy giant Colbún. And just like the massive Pangue and Ralco dams that preceded it, Colbún's "Angostura Project" is attracting serious criticism among area residents, many of whom may be displaced by the dam's reservoir. Incredibly, some of the people likely to be flooded out of house and home were already forced to relocate during construction of the Pangue facility.
There is a place in far southern Chile, in the remote region of Aysén, where the long road south - the famed Carreterra Austral - simply comes to an end. Via a joint entity called HidroAysén, two companies are looking to build five massive dams in Aysén that would together generate some 2,750 MW of electricity - roughly equivalent to 20 percent of Chile's current overall generating capacity. However, HidroAysén's plans have generated a formidable backlash.