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#15508 - 12/02/02 03:36 AM Chalillo dam update
Marty Offline
Dear Friends of the Macal River Valley,

We wanted to share some news from the continuing efforts to save the
Macal River Valley in Belize from plans by Fortis, Inc.
of Canada to build the Chalillo dam.

More than 5,000 people have now signed the StopFortis online petition,
including Fortis shareholders, residents of
Newfoundland (Fortis' home), Belizeans, and many individuals who have
experienced the natural wonders of the Macal River Valley first-hand.

Update contents:

1. Sharon Matola recognized by Conde Nast Traveler magazine for fight
against dam

2. Judgement still pending in Chalillo lawsuit brought by BACONGO

3. Despite ongoing litigation, contractors have been asked to bid on dam
construction

4. Fortis threatens to raise rates in Belize, while enjoying record
earnings

5. Tourist season approaches in Belize

1. Sharon Matola recognized by Conde Nast Traveler magazine for fight
against dam

see http://www.stopfortis.org/CondeNastAwardMatola11_02.html

Sharon Matola, the scientist who first stood up against the Chalillo dam
more than three years ago, was one of four extraordinary people
recognized by Condé Nast Traveler magazine for environmental work.
Patricia Skyer won the 2002 Environmental Award for her work on
community conservation and Matola is one of three runners-up. Previous
winners of the Award include Canadian First Nations leader Mathew Coon
Com (1994) who fought plans for the James Bay dam project in Quebec, and
Ken Saro-Wiwa (1996) who was executed by Nigeria's military government
after speaking out against oil-company exploitation of his people's
lands.

Matola, was recognized for more than 20 years of work, as Director of
the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, rehabilitating and caring
for injured and neglected wildlife in Belize and for her intense efforts
to save the Macal River Valley from Fortis' proposed dam. The Zoo and
Tropical Education Center are Belize's foremost environmental education
institutions, with more than 30,000 visitors each year, including
thousands of Belizean schoolchildren—most Belizeans get their first
glimpse of the national animal, the tapir, at the Zoo, and learn about
Belize's unique sub-population of Scarlet Macaw. Belizean students can
also learn about Scarlet Macaws and other wildlife from Matola's
children's books featuring Hoodwink the Owl, and Mac the Macaw. Matola,
and the Zoo, a member of the Belize Alliance of Conservation
NGOs,continues to be a leading force to save Belize's wilderness and
wildlife from the Chalillo dam.

2. Judgement still pending in Chalillo lawsuit brought by BACONGO

The Chief Justice of Belize's Supreme Court has yet to rule in the
lawsuit brought by the Belize Alliance of Conservation NGO's (BACONGO)
challenging the government's rubber-stamp environmental approval of the
Chalillo dam. Final arguments were heard in July by Chief Justice
Abdullah Conteh—originally from Sierra Leone— and a ruling is expected
at any time. This is the first environmental lawsuit in the country's
history, and the first major challenge by a citizen's group in Belize to
a government decision.

BACONGO has pledged that it will take the case as far as needed to get
justice. The final court of appeal for this case is the Privy Council
in England.

3. Despite ongoing litigation, contractors have been asked to bid on dam
construction

It appears that proponents of the dam are rushing ahead of the Supreme
Court's decision: we understand that companies have been asked to submit
bids for construction of the Chalillo dam despite the ongoing legal
challenges. Contractors would not discuss the details of the bids
publicly, though at least one Belizean company and one
Newfoundland-based construction company appear to be involved in the
bidding process. Fortis may attempt to move ahead with construction
even while the court deliberates, so the Coalition to Save the Macal
River Valley will press Fortis and potential contractors to open their
dealings to public scrutiny. The secrecy over the construction
contracts is not surprising: earlier contracts which guarantee Fortis
companies hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from the proposed
dam only became public as the result of the lawsuits brought by BACONGO.

4. Fortis threatens to raise rates in Belize, while enjoying record
earnings

see http://www.stopfortis.org/BELBleats11_02.html

The CEO of Fortis' monopoly subsidiaries in Belize claimed in a recent
editorial that Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) would have to raise
electricity rates for Belizeans—already one of the highest in Central
America— due to delays in construction of the Chalillo dam. This
preposterous claim comes shortly after Fortis issued its third-quarter
earnings reports, showing that its Belize holdings are by far its most
profitable: Fortis makes four times more profit for each unit of
electricity sold in Belize than in Canada. Profits from Belize
Electricity Company Limited, 98% owned by Fortis, were up more than $3
million over the previous year. Belize columnist Meb Cutlack points out
this inconsistency in his article “BEL bleats while profits soar”
(http://www.stopfortis.org/BELBleats11_02.html).

5. Tourist season approaches in Belize

Thousands of tourists will be heading to Belize for vacation this
season, drawn by the warm weather and spectacular nature. Nature-based
tourism is one of Belize's fastest growing foreign exchange earners,
with good reason: Belize has historically cherished and protected some
of Central America's greatest natural and cultural treasures. The
Chalillo dam threatens these treasures, as many tourists this year will
surely tell Belize's officials.

Sincerely,
Ari Hershowitz

Director, BioGems Project, Latin America
Natural Resources Defense Council
(202) 289-2388

Top
#15509 - 12/02/02 04:14 AM Re: Chalillo dam update
Chloe Offline
Thanks Marty for keeping this Fortis issue on going.
Da mQQse asked me to express his Thank You to you.
_________________________
Dare To Deviate

Top
#15510 - 12/03/02 02:14 AM Re: Chalillo dam update
rickcheri Offline
Thanks Marty for putting this back up!!!
Rick

Top
#15511 - 12/03/02 03:01 PM Re: Chalillo dam update
rickcheri Offline
I, too, am VERY HAPPY to see this thread back up...too inportant to let it get deleted or moved to the bottom. If anyone has not signed the petition-PLEASE sign it and pass it on to everyone you know to sign it. We need way more than 5,ooo names!!!! As I stated before (PI Publication from Nov. 15th) this company can start "charging Belizeans to use the river and if an accident accured, they will not be held liable-even if it kills a village!! PLEaSE SIGN!!!! C...P.S. Thanks Marty!!

Top
#15512 - 12/04/02 07:11 AM Re: Chalillo dam update
trina Offline
Thanks Marty...I appreciate the update! laugh

Top
#15513 - 12/08/02 02:20 AM Re: Chalillo dam update
rickcheri Offline
Let's keep this at the top.....if you haven't signed the petition, take 2 minutes to do it. In the BIG PICTURE, the dam is a BAD CHOICE!!! C....Happy Holidays!!!!

Top

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