The debate for resources, jobs, environment, aesthetics and ecology seems to see no end. In Cajon del Maipo, Chile a proposed hydroelectric project would reroute the area’s rivers into a pipe to power the Santiago metropolis nearby. The region’s residents are split: Some welcome the influx of jobs that would come with the project’s development, and others want to keep the valley untouched to save the land for the native species that live there as well as continued recreation and tourism.
While I was living in Santiago, Chile this fall I had the chance to photograph three protests for the hydroelectric project as well as hike and climb in the valley to see the landscape the demonstrators were so passionate about.
A protestor chants through a sign at a demonstration against a hydroelectric project in central Santiago, Chile on Oct. 24, 2013.
Protestors gather for a demonstration in central Santiago, Chile to show that they disagree with a proposed hydroelectric plant that would alter the rivers and surrounding landscape in Cajon del Maipo.
An Andean Condor, Chile’s national bird and one of the largest flying birds with a wingspan of 10 feet, flies above Andean peaks in Cajon del Maipo.
Chagul Orrego climbs a light pole to unfurl a sign in protest of a hydroelectric plant in Cajón deMaipo, a rural suburb in Santiago, Chile on Sept. 7, 2013. The hydroelectric plant would destroy the biodiversity in the canyon, but it would also bring jobs to the people living there, Orrego says.
Paola Saente Marie-Kaiser, right, dances at a protest for a hydroelectric plant in Cajon del Maipo near Santigo, Chile. Her father brought their family to Cajon del Maipo sixty years ago and she says rerouting the rivers into a pipe will ruin the area for those living and recreating there.
A woman waves a flag with her children at a “No Alto Maipo” protest.
Anthony Prior, left, leads protestors in a chant on Sept. 7, 2013. “Luksic, cagón, fuera del cajon!” they shout. Adronico Luksic is one of the wealthiest men in Chile and is funding the hydroelectric development.
The snow covered peaks in Cajon del Maipo are a destination for skiers, climbers and backpackers. The hydroelectric dam could prevent access to the area and destroy some of the natural biodiversity.
More information about the issue: http://www.riosdelmaipo.cl/