In the last months of a dictatorship rife with exploitation, Augusto Pinochet sold the development rights for all of Chiles rivers to the highest bidder. Without their knowledge or consent, the waters that sustain scores of Patagonian farmers and ranchers no longer belonged to them. Now, these same families find their way of life pitted against the a multinational energy contractor with dreams of dams.
Patagonia, a remote and largely wild region in Southern Chile, has no need for more electricity. What little they use is generated by solar panels, windmills, and small scale hydro-electric turbines. This exemplary instance of local and sustainable power generation now stands on the brink of being supplanted by a series of massive hydroelectric dams, instead of serving to edify a world already victim to industrial power. The dams will destroy a projected seventy percent of the rivers biodiversity, displace some 300 families, and virtually destroy the regions thriving ecotourism industry. Though local opposition is fierce, the government still supports the corporations development rights, no matter how deplorable their acquisition may be.
In early 2010, I travelled to these rivers to bear witness to a landscape that may cease to exist as we know it. The land bears its imminent demise in uncharacteristic quiet; I suppose respite comes with resignation. The landscape remains one of singular beauty, but close examination reveals the first survey markers and stakes of what is to come.