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June 16 2011

Panama: The Indigenous Ngobe-Bugle’s Struggle to Defend the Rio Tabasara

Intercontinental Cry publishes an exclusive report by independent journalist Richard Arghiris, who “takes an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding the Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam in Panama and the Ngobe-Bugle’s struggle to defend the Rio Tabasara along with their own right to survive as Indigenous Peoples.”

June 14 2011

Peru: Government Announces End of Concession for Inambari Hydroelectric Project

Isabel Guerra updates [es] her blog with the latest news on the Inambari hydroelectric project: after protests demanding its cancellation, the government has announced it will suspend the temporal concession given to Egasur, the project's developer.

June 13 2011

Belarus: Crowdsourced DDoS Attack Attempts to Put Down President's Website

The website of Belorusian president Alexander Lukashenko is under attack by a crowdsourced DDoS attack hosted by PutinVzrivayetDoma.org, lenta.ru reported [ru]. @putinvzrivaet explained the purpose[ru]: “Because he [Lukashenko] had blew such a country.” Previously, Ukraine-based @putinvzrivaet scheduled attacks on many other commercial and political websites. So far, however, presidential website is accessible.

June 05 2011

Philippines: Netizens follow Telecom merger deal issue

Netizens in the Philippines are closely following the developments of a merger deal between two of the country’s largest telecommunications companies. The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) announced last March that it has bought off the Digital Telecommunications with P74.1 billion (US$1.7 billion).

If approved by government regulators, there would be two mobile carriers in the country left with PLDT’s Smart, Talk N’Text, Red Mobile and Digitel’s Sun controlling 70 percent of the market and Globe Telecom and TM controlling the remaining 30 percent.

Edzee’s Net Logs asks if the merger will translate to improved broadband services:

With the merger, PLDT said it hopes to make available to Digitel subscribers better service offerings more specifically 3G or third generation cellular technology and broadband Internet. The question now is . . . will the merger bring about improved broadband service? Will their remaining competitors in providing Internet service to the public try to outdo them?

Roysville does not see anything wrong with the merger.

The PLDT-Digitel deal could be beneficial to the consumers, as long as the other players are able to hold their own, offer better services and more affordable rates and not follow PLDT’s lead should it decide to dictate prices.

Consumers are still the judge… and given a choice, consumers will definitely choose the better service provider without regards to size of the company’s assets.

New Mawe’s Adobo gives 3 reasons why the merger would be bad for Filipinos, namely product inefficiency, restriction of choice, and exploitation of consumers:

Controlling the prices, charges, and other costs of their telecommunications services would be the first on that list. Remember, if this deal goes through, PLDT will control around 70% of the total market. So who’s gonna stop them from hiking up the charges?

The Scribbler worries that the merger would bring back the old days when the country’s telecommunications was in a dismal state with the PLDT monopolizing the industry for decades.

Remember those days when applying for a landline would take you a gazillion years before it gets approved? Okay, not exactly the time span from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic eras, but you get the picture? I recall an acquaintance of mine lamenting that it took 10 years for PLDT to approve their landline application. Ten frickin years! Imagine that!

Here are some reactions from Twitter.com:

@dalekins: I dont get the reason why people are against pldt-digitel merger specially if youre a smart or sun user. Youll have a bigger unli coverage.

@guiengarma: Is the PLDT-DIGITEL deal pro-consumer? IDK. Is the deal economically friendly following econ. principles? No.

@Olidex: With the pldt-digitel merger, ud think globe would improve its customer service… Nope.

@kim_and_jackie: People forgot that PNoy's uncle & largest campaign donor, Mr Tony Boy Cojuangco, used to call the shots for PLDT when it was a monopoly.

Yugatech meanwhile points out the possible benefits of the merger alongside its more detrimental effects to the consumers.

• Wider network coverage for existing Sun subscribers, especially with 3G mobile internet.
• Smart can increase its network capacity if it is able to use Sun’s assigned frequency (same way Smart expanded with the purchase of CURE’s 3G frequency). That could translate to a less congested network and improved wireless connectivity (I hope).

For BongV of Antipinoy.com, the Filipino consumer is the ultimate loser merger or no merger.

Your choice is still limited between bad and worst – and you pay more for nonexistent service. But you are used to this situation – after all that’s what’s going on with your water bill, your electric bill, your tollway bill – what’s another higher telecom bill?

Tonyo Cruz of TXTpower calls for more safeguards against the pitfalls of a private monopoly in the telecommunications sector.

The least the public expects is for PLDT and Digitel, moving forward, to push the telcos self-imposed limits on internet and mobile phone services, whether in pricing, speed and quality of service. He could boast about the fortified big-ness of PLDT, but if it does not improve service in a big way, it would be wasting its investment and disappoint Filipinos further. It is an open secret that the Philippines, which PLDT dominates, has the slowest internet speeds in this part of the world.

The TXTpower, a cellphone subscribers’ consumer group, recently filed a pleading against the PLDT-Digitel merger with the National Telecommunications Commission.

Image source for the thumbnail image is from PBN Media Group

June 03 2011

Chile: Ideas to Fight Air Pollution in Santiago

Blogger Daniel Arellano suggests [es] several measures that could be implemented in Santiago to fight severe air pollution: reforestation, relocating companies to other parts of the country and educating people to build awareness are some of Daniel’s ideas to improve air quality in the Chilean capital.

June 01 2011

Chile: How Many Marched Against the Hidroaysén Hydroelectric Station and Why?

This post is part of a series of posts about the approval to construct the Hydroaysén hydroelectric power station.  Read about the project, the positions in favor and against it, and the initial reactions following the ruling. Also review the testimonials from the first protests.

View of the Alameda from the protest vs. Hidroaysén. Photo from Twitter user @esopino

Last Saturday, May 28, 2011, a new massive protest took effect against the Hydroaysén hydroelectric project. The event was the third convened by Acción Ecológica [es] and the fourth massive protest in Santiago since the project's approval on May 9. Unlike previous protests, this one ended without any major incidents. Online daily El Dinamo also spoke regarding the festive and familiar atmosphere [es] that was felt throughout the event. Nevertheless, one doubt remained — how many marched? The numbers varied so much according to the source, that the topic was commented on throughout various social networks.

On Twitter, Ivan Rebolledo (@OscuroSer), technician in computational networks commented:

Marcha contra HidroAysén: Organizadores aseguran que fueron 100 mil personas http://bit.ly/iAZ1gW [FOTOS] #Hidroaysén #NoaHidroaysén #ERNC !

March against HidroAysén: Organizers assure that there were 100 thousand people http://bit.ly/iAZ1gW [FOTOS] #Hidroaysén #NoaHidroaysén #ERNC !

On the other hand, Roberto (@fuznet) pointed out the differences in estimates:

Las cifras según… Terra: 5 mil participantes, La Tercera :20 Mil, Cooperativa: 80 mil, Emol: 0 detenidos. Juzgue ud. #Noahidroaysen.

The numbers according to… Terra: 5 thousand participants, La Tercera: 20 thousand, Cooperativa: 80 thousand, Emol: 0 detained. You be the judge. #Noahidroaysen.

As for the mass media, webpage Radio Bio-Bio [es] also noted estimates that went from 18,000 to 90,000 people.

Beyond the disparity between official numbers and that which participants and organizers reported, it is interesting to analyze that which is calling so many people to the streets for so many days, and why Hidroaysén (after Barrancones, in Punta de Choros [es] in 2010) has caused such an uproar in all spheres, including social networks. With respect to this, there are many known points of view.

Professor Marcelo Mena explains some reasons in his column “Nature at man's service” [es] published by online daily El Dinamo [es]:

El rechazo a Hidroaysén es solo la manifestación de la desconfianza que tenemos frente a grandes proyectos pintados de verde. Subestimamos a la gente al pensar que rechazan el proyecto porque Patagonia Sin Represas mostraba las Torres del Paine con cables. […] Viene porque la mayoría de la población ha sentido problemas de contaminación en su vida (de acuerdo a una encuesta que hicimos el 2010 junto con Opina). Viene de que encuentran irracional destruir algo único como la Patagonia para satisfacer demandas energéticas teóricas (proyectadas linealmente) que ni siquiera aseguran una baja de tarifa. De hecho, de acuerdo a encuestra Opina, 70% de los chilenos está dispuesto a más por energías limpias.

The rejection of Hidroaysén is merely a demonstration of the distrust we have before large projects painted green. We underestimate people upon thinking that they reject the project because Patagonia Sin Represas [Patagonia Without Reservoirs] showed the Torres del Paine [National Park] with cables. […] It comes because the majority of the population has felt the problems of contamination in their lives (according to a survey that we conducted in 2010 in conjunction with Opina). It comes from the fact that they find it irrational to destroy something so unique like the Patagonia to satisfy theoretic energy demands (linearly projected) that do not even assure a tax reduction. In fact, according to the Opina survey, 70% of Chileans are willing for more for clean energy.

On the other hand, Victor Hugo Barrientos, in his column “The environment and sustainable development: pending” [es] from El Quinto Poder argues [es]:

Hemos visto en los últimos meses una tremenda rebelión social y mediática por el poderoso rechazo que provocan la ejecución de proyectos energéticos en nuestro territorio. Primero fue “Punta de Choros” y la historia de la planta termo-eléctrica y ahora Hidroaysén, las que han excitado el fervor popular, llevándolo a máximos históricos, que incluso han comprometido la seguridad nacional. […] Esa misma muchedumbre inquieta no tiene una conducta “ambientalmente coherente”, no propone soluciones reales, ni tampoco define responsabilidades al fenómeno en discusión. La historia de “Dr Jekyll y Mr Hyde” (novela de Robert Stevenson, 1886) aplicaría para definirnos; por el día consumimos energía por toneladas y por la noche protestamos para impedir proyectos energéticos.

In the last few months, we have seen a tremendous social and media rebellion with the powerful rejection that the execution of energy projects provokes on our land. First it was “Punta de Choros” and the story of the thermo-electric plant and now Hidroaysén, which excited popular fervor, taking it to historic maximums, even compromising national security. […] This very same restless mass does not have an “environmentally coherent” conduct, it does not propose real solutions, nor does it define responsibilities to the phenomenon in question.  The story of “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (Robert Stevenson's novel, 1886) would apply to define us; by day we consume energy by the ton and by night we protest to impede energy projects.

Aside from criticisms, however, online users have also begun proposing solutions. One example is that which consultant on the carbon footprint, Ricardo Torres, proposed in his column “Renewable, not conventional, energies: a real alternative” [es]:

[…] Estas oportunidades se podrían materializar al incluir estos desarrollos de generación eléctrica bajo el Mecanismo de Desarrollo Limpio (MDL), dependiente de la ONU, el cual permite crear proyectos de reducción de emisiones de Gases de Efecto Invernadero en países en vías de desarrollo. Al certificar estas reducciones se obtienen bonos de carbono que pueden ser vendidos a empresas de países industrializados. Los recursos generados por la venta de los bonos permiten financiar una parte importante de los proyectos.

[…] These opportunities could materialize to include these electrical generation developments under the Mecanismo de Desaroolo Limpio (MDL) [Clean Development Mechanism], depending on the UN, which permits the creation of Greenhouse Gas emission reduction projects in developing nations. Upon certifying these reductions, they obtain carbon bonds that they can sell to companies in industrialized nations. The resources generated from the bond sales allow for the financing of an important part of the projects.

The protest participants, on the other hand, talk about the diversity of opinions and reasons for starting the demonstration, which have been expressed in the slogans and banners that range from criticisms of the capitalist system up to support for the ERNC (Renewable, Not Conventional, Energies)

Writer and blogger Andrea Elgueta [es], in her story entitled “What mobilizes those who join the demonstration against Hidroaysén? [es] in El Quinto Poder tells us [es]:

March against Hidroaysén. Photo from Luis Fernando Arellano, Flickr user reports (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Salí de casa con una cámara de fotos y me dispuse a intentar develar si este movimiento tiene ideas y tiene una visión propia. De más está decir que desde el inicio de nuestra imperfecta y discutible democracia que no teníamos 40.000 o 100.000 personas en las calles manifestándose. ¿Se manifestarán por moda? ¿Será realmente entretenido asistir sólo para “pelearse con los pacos”? ¿O es una masa inconsciente que se vuelcan a las calles porque sí? […] Al llegar al lugar de reunión de los manifestantes, me sorprendió la cantidad de gente: niños, abuelos, jóvenes, adultos, mujeres y manifestaciones artísticas variopintas. […] Claro, pensé, no se trata de “bandos”, como se empecina en creer el gobierno, sino que se acercan más a una manifestación genuina de ciudadanos con opinión que esta vez buscan ser escuchados sin mediadores.

I left the house with a camera and I prepared myself to try to uncover whether this movement had ideas and its own vision. Suffice it to say that from the start of our imperfect and arguable democracy that we did not have 40,000 or 100,000 people in the demonstrations on the street. Did they march because it was popular? Would it be genuinely entertaining to attend just to “fight with the cops”? Or was this an unconscious mass that threw itself into the streets just because? […] Upon arriving to the demonstrators' meeting place, the sheer quantity of people surprised me: children, grandparents, youth, adults, women and various artistic demonstrations. […] Of course, I thought, it's not about “sides,” as the government continues to believe, but rather a genuine demonstration of citizens with an opinion that, this time, looks to be heard without a mediator.

“Reasons for Hidroaysén,” a short documentary by Amparo Baeza, Antonio Fernández and Claudio Rivera, that has been amply broadcast through the internet, provides an' inside look' in 15 minutes into the diversity of social actors, investigative reaction, different meetings and principal reasons that people have had to take to the streets to protest.

LAS RAZONES CONTRA HIDROAYSEN SALEN A LA CALLE from Revista Lecturas on Vimeo.

REASONS AGAINST HIDROAYSEN TAKE TO THE STREETS [es] from Revista Lecturas [es] on Vimeo.

Perhaps, as Patricio Herman, President of the Defendamos La Ciudad [Defend The City] Foundation, highlights in an interview with online daily El Mostrador [es], one of the major achievements of the protests is that: “All Chileans already talk about renewable, not conventional, energies and so many other terms that, prior to the environmental ruling of the five HidroAysén reservoirs in Patagonia, very few knew.”

May 18 2011

Chile: Massive Protests Continue Against Hidroaysén Power Station

This post is part of a series on the approval of the construction of  Hidroaysén hydroelectric power station. Read all about the project and the  “for” and “against” arguments and first reactions when the news was revealed.

After the approval of the construction of the Hidroaysén hydrolectric power station in the  Aysén region of the Chilean  Patagonia on May 9th 2011, there have been many protests around the country. According to radio Cooperativa [es] “the demonstrations managed to unite 7,000 people in Plaza Italia, in the capital Santiago […] The protests continue in cities like Coyhaique -directly in front of the Environmental Evaluation Commission-, Concepción, Temuco, Valparaíso and Valdivia, where police dispersed the crowd with tear gas in a protest of about 500 people.”

The protests continue daily, as well as a second massive call which brought 30,000 people to the streets on May 13th. The online periodical  El Mostrador [es] commented: “Ecological  groups have marched everyday against this initiative and the protests will continue until May 21st, the day that the mandate will hand in a published account of the affairs of the project to Parliament.”

The medical doctor and Twitter user, Alvaro Rivas (@alvarorivasMD), sent a live link [es] of the march through TwitCasting. With a camera-phone, he attended the peaceful demonstration and witnessed the police repression. He even came to the aid of a woman who was suffering a panic attack due to the tear gas thrown. Alvaro's narrative was followed and celebrated by many, above all, because national television was not covering the news.

The No to Hidroaysén protest in front of La Moneda. Santiago, Chile 13 Mayo, 2011. Photo of Flickr user Flavio_Camus (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Javier Chijani (@jchijani) made a  comment on the issue:

#NoaHidroaysen#RenunciaHinzpeter Esperando que canales den la Noticia importante del dia. O la pasaran por alto. #Chv #Mega #TVN#C13

#NoaHidroaysen #RenunciaHinzpeter Hoping that the news channels give the important news of the day. Or, they will overlook it. #Chv #Mega #TVN #C13

Marcelo Aliaga (@maliaga) also commented on the lack of coverage of the local newscasts, adding:

Lo que NO saldrá en el noticiario ni en las portadas de mañanahttp://yfrog.com/h2i9tjfj // no necesitamos una TV vendida.

What will NOT be on the news or the morning papers tomorrow http://yfrog.com/h2i9tjfj // we don't need a sold-out television.

The protesters informed Alvaro of where to go and helped him by adding information to his Twitter coverage.

Javier Aguirre Mansilla [es] commented on Facebook:

alvaro te estan viendo en santiago concepcion talcahuano arica iquique, vamos buen trabajo

Alvaro, we are watching you in Santiago, Concepción, Talcahuano, Arica, Iquique. Good job!

Sebastían Olate (@nostok_) mentioned on Twitter:

Debes cubrir hacia otros lados Alvaro!! Continua por calles alternativas hacia Sta Lucia!!

You should report from other locations Alvaro!!! Go to other streets towards Sta Lucia!!

Besides the live videos, many Twitter users shared photos and their impressions on one of the liveliest marches in Chile in a long time:

No to Hidroaysén March. Taken on Mayo 10th, 2011 in Valparaíso, Chile. Photo from Flickr user Trovador Errante (CC BY-NC-NC 2.0)

Journalist Lorena Muñoz Mizon (@loladotcom) commented:

qué bonita marcha!!! la gente sentada haciendo el signo de la paz enfrenta el agua

What a lovely march!!! People sitting showing the peace sign in front of the water

The newspaper PublimetroChile (@PublimetroChile) informed:

Miles de manifestantes protestan frente a La Moneda por HidroAysén http://bit.ly/lfRrc9#HidroAysen

Thousands of protesters in front of  La Moneda against HidroAysén http://bit.ly/lfRrc9 #HidroAysen

Sentidos Comunes (@sentidoscomunes) shared:

Ya publicamos las fotos de la protesta #noahidroaysén de hoy. Véanlas aquíhttp://tinyurl.com/3tfvuga

We already uploaded photos of the protest #noahidroaysén today. See them here: http://tinyurl.com/3tfvuga

One of the things that netizens emphasized was the strong police repression in the protest in Santiago and other cities across the country.

In Santiago, the blogger of El Beat del Tambor narrated on his/her Twitter account (@elbeatdeltambor):

Gente vomita en metro por gases toxicos arrojados por policia chilena#Patagoniasinrepresas #Noahidroaysen

People vomiting in the metro because of toxic gases sprinkled by Chilean police #Patagoniasinrepresas #Noahidroaysen

Angello Poggini (@APoggini) points out:

se supone que la marcha #noahidroaysen estaba autorizada hasta las 9, era todo pacifico hasta que salieron los pacos [policías] a dejar la caga [a arruinarlo].

the march #noahidroaysen was supposed to be authorized up until 9, but everything was quiet until the cops came and ruined it.

Programmer  Sebastián Araos (@seba_araos) repudiates the police repression:

@Carabdechile es una verguenza lo que uds hacen reprimiendo una protesta que comenzo pacifica… Uds trajeron la violencia. #noahidroaysen

@Carabdechile [police] is a disgrace, repressing what started off as a a peaceful protest… you brought the violence! #noahidroaysen

The same thing happened in other cities in Chile, such as  Iquique, where cybernaut Daniela Martínez informed us through the  Radio Bio-Bio webpage [es] of the following:

Asamblea ciudadana contra la aprobación de las termoeléctricas en la ciudad de Iquique convocada a la comunidad de la ciudad y distintas organizaciones sociales para movilizarse y llamar a plebiscito.

Esta terminó en una gran marcha por la ciudad interrumpida por Carabineros con lanza agua y lacrimógenas de forma desmedida

Citizen assembly against the approval of thermoelectric plants in the city of Iquique organised by the community and different public organisations for mobilization and for calling a referendum.

This resulted in a big demonstration throughout the city, interrupted by the Chilean police with water and tear gas launchers in unmeasurable amounts.

The independant daily paper El Navegable shared some videos [es]about the encounters between protesters and police in the protest on May 10th in Valdivia.

Also, there have been international protests in Barcelona, Hamburg, and Rome against Hidroaysén. The Patagonia Sin Represas (Patagonia without Dams) webpage shows a good  summary of the protests [es] in Chile and in the world. There has been a call for massive protests via social networks, for the May 21st, 2011, the day President Sebastián Piñera will deliver the annual budget message to the nation.

May 16 2011

Chile: Citizens Reject the Hidroaysen Dam Project

Where the Baker and Nef rivers meet. Image by Flickr user jpgarnham (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On Monday, May 9, the Environmental Evaluation Commission, meeting in Coyhaique, a city in the Chilean Patagonia, and composed of 12 appointed officials in President Sebastian Pinera's government, approved the hydroelectric plant Hidroaysen, [es] a merger between Spanish-Italian Endesa and the Chilean Colbun. The project includes the construction and operation of 5 dams, two in Baker River and three in Pascua River located in the Aisén region in the remote south of Patagonia, Chile and it has an estimated value of 3.2 billion worth of investments.

This video tells us a little about what the project is about:

Video: Hidroaysen is a hydroelectric project that will build and operate five dams in the Chilean Patagonia, two in the Baker River and three in de Pascua River, flooding 5910 hectares equivalent to the surface of the Manhattan Island in New York. To provide energy to Santiago and new mining projects in the north of the country, Hidroaysen is looking to install 3800 towers, each 60 mts. tall, along 2000 kms. becoming the most lengthy electric wiring in the world. It would join the interconnected central system at the Lo Prado Bridge, thus going through half of one of the longest countries in the world.

The project was approved by 11 votes in favour and one against in the midst of a tense atmosphere marked by a protest of about 1,000 people outside the Coyhaique City Hall, where the voting took place.

Pese a las 11 mil observaciones ciudadanas presentadas, las denuncias de que informes de los organismos técnicos que revisaron el proyecto fueron cambiados y la inhabilidad de cuatro ministerios, el apoyo explícito del gobierno de Sebastián Piñera y de los medios masivos, fue aprobado en medio de un fuerte contingente policial el proyecto de Hidroaysén. […]

Despite the 11 000 citizen manifestations, the complaints that various reports from technical organisations that revised the project were changed and the incompetence of four ministries, the public support from Piñera's government and mass media, the Hydroaysen project was approved in the midst of a strong, police contingent.

According to the observations of the online chilean news site El Ciudadano [es].

To which the site radio.uchile.cl [es] added:

La iniciativa energética estaba altamente cuestionada por una serie de irregularidades que se presentaron durante su tramitación como cambios sorpresivos y sin fundamento de los servicios técnicos. Sus detractores además denunciaron un sistemático lobby de las empresas Endesa y Colbún respaldado por el Gobierno para presionar por la aprobación de este proyecto.”

The energy initiative was highly questionable because of a series of irregularities that presented themselves during the drafting of legal documents with surprising changes, with no approval from any technical organisations. Its detractors, over all, exposed the systematic lobbying of the Endesa and Colbun companies backed by the government to force the approval of this project.

The “for” and “against” stances vary in reasoning. However, the majority of the population is against the construction.  On Twitter, the Carbon footprint consultancy @carboambiente commented:

Encuestas online indican que #NOaHidroaysen:@Emol 53%;@laterceracom 66%;@nacioncl 79%; @PublimetroChile 81% que más quieren!!!

Online polls show that “No to Hydroaysen”: @Emol 53%; @laterceracom 66%; @nacioncl 79%; Publimetro 81%… what more do they want?

Tomas Mosciatti, journalist from Bio Bio Radio explains the reasons for rejecting the Hydroaysen project to CNN Chile:

Video: Tomas Masciatti professes that in his personal opinion, besides it not being environmentally friendly to proceed with this project, there are also very important considerations that were not taken before going ahead with what he calls the biggest project ever undertaken in Chile. He outlines the fact that Chile has no energy policy, that things have not been put in place when taxation, the cable system or consumer's rights are concerned. He also stresses that Chile is not facing such a grave energy crisis to have to resort to making a decision so quickly as this one was made.

He also mentions political implications, such as Chile producing a surplus of energy (and contamination) to be later sold to Argentina. Other problems he says are corruption within the authorities, imperialism and a monopoly created when Hydroaysen rules the energy sector with a whopping 80% production in the entire market. Masciatti says that the residents of Aysen will get no benefit whatsoever from this project since all the energy will be channeled to Santiago, plus they will pay the same rates as the people of Santiago, which isn't fair to them at all.

There have been various publications that contain the disapproval of the project. Among them, there is an ecological group called Verdeseo that published “7 Reasons for a Patagonia without Dams” [es]. Also, Pablo Astudillo of online community El Quinto Poder, wrote “7 Reflections before the eventual approval or rejection of the Hydroaysen” [es], which says, in a nutshell:

Protest for a Patagonia Without Dams. Image by Flickr user International Rivers (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

1. La hidroelectricidad NO es energía limpia.
2. Duplicar la energía no ayuda a superar la pobreza.
3. Duplicar la energía tampoco asegura el bienestar económico.
4. Las energías renovables no convencionales (ERNC) sí son una opción.
5. Las represas no garantizan energía más barata.
6. La legislación ambiental es deficiente.
7. La ciudadanía no recibe información suficiente sobre los efectos negativos de los proyectos eléctricos.

1. Hydro-electricity is not clean energy.
2. Doubling energy production will not help reduce poverty.
3. Nor will it secure economic security.
4. Non-conventional renewable energy is an option.
5. Dams don't guarantee cheap energy.
6. Environmental policy is lacking.
7. The public does not get enough information about the negative effects that these energy projects may have.

As for the arguments in favour, the company's site mentions [es]:

1. La energía de Hidroaysén es limpia y renovable.
2. Evita la construcción de termoeléctricas.
3. No impacta al turismo
4. Generará empleo y acciones positivas de responsabilidad social en la comunidad.

1. Hydroaysen energy is clean and renewable.
2. The construction of thermal power stations is avoided.
3. It doesn't impact tourism.
4. It will create employment and general social responsibility in the community.

On the other hand, Sebastian Jordana of Platforma Urbana states in his analysis of pros and cons in a post titled,”Hydroaysen a necessary evil?” [es]:

Todos saben que daños va a hacer, entonces, ¿para qué construir semejante proyecto? La demanda energética incrementa todos los años, y por ende, la oferta debe aumentar también. Se estima que de aquí a 10 años más, Chile no podrá cumplir con esta demanda, por lo que nuevas formas de producir energía son necesarias. Los detractores de Hidroaysén hablan de otras formas de producir energía, lo cierto es que la hidráulica es limpia y rendidora. Por ejemplo, para producir 360 MW de energía se necesitan aproximadamente 25.000 hectáreas de energía solar, 15.000 de energía eólica y solamente 3.600 de energía hidráulica.

Everyone knows the damage it's going to cause, so why do such a project? The demand for energy is growing yearly, therefore the supply has to increase as well. In an estimated 10 years, Chile will not be able to supply this demand and so new energy sources are necessary. The Hydroaysen detractors talk about alternative energy sources and that surely hydroelectric energy is clean and profitable. For example, to produce 360 Mega Watts of energy, you would need approximately 25 000 hectares of solar energy, 15 000 of wind energy, but only 3600 of hydroelectric energy.

Activist, blogger and Global Voices author Felipe Cordero (@felipe_cordero) summarized the detractors' stance in a tweet:

Nadie dice que #hidroaysen no usa energía renovable. Lo renovable ahi es el agua, pero la inundación y el cableado es el problema

No one is saying that Hydroaysen doesn't use renewable energy. The renewable part is the water but the flooding and the cables are the problem.

Social media reactions appeared quickly after the project was approved. The tweets made against the government and the project propelled at such a speed making the hashtag #nohydroaysen a trending topic for the entire day on May 9. Also, a call to protest onthe streets was made in all the country. An estimated 10,000 people reacted to this call, according to the online journal El Dinamo [es].

Carolina Santander (@carolinasantan) lamented:

Con mucha rabia, pena y verguenza, estos politicos (todos) son unos vendidos sin escrupulos. #NOAHIDROAYSEN

With a lot of rage, sadness and shame, these politicians (all of them) are unscrupulously sold. #Notohydroaysen

Travesia La Bermudez (@Kaxorras_Mal) noted:

Porque la gran mayoría de los chilenos queremos una #PATAGONIASINREPRESAS! #NOAHIDROAYSEN //RT!

Because the greater majority of Chileans want Patagonia without dams! #NOAHIDROAYSEN// RT!

Actress Leanor Varela (@leonorvarela) also wrote:

Tengo estómago tomado por estar tan lejos.Prefería estar ahí con uds como la ultima vez. Aguante los q salieron a las calles! #noahydroaysen

I'm sick to my stomach from being so far away. I want to be there at this very moment. For those who take the streets, Be strong! #noahydroaysen

However, these demonstrations were repressed by Chilean police throwing tear gas and water at protesters, and apprehending 63 people in Santiago alone, according to a report from newspaper El Mercurio [es] in it's online version. According to radio Cooperativa, “The protest was a gathering of 7000 people in Plaza Italia but the Chilean gendarme dissolved the crowd with three water launchers and two gas launchers. […] The protests were repeated in cities like Coyhaique in front of the Environmental Evaluation Commission- Concepcion, Temuco, Valparaiso and Valdivia, where the police dispersed tear gas on a protest of about 500 people. ” The Facebook page for El Quinto Poder gathered images and testimonies of the protesters throughout Chile.

March against Hidroaysén in Santiago, Chile May 9, 2011. Image by Flickr user jorgeparedes (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Andres Araos (@andresaraos) commented:

19:00 empieza protesta en plaza italia; 19:05 empiezan a llover bombas labrimogenas… represion pura en contra de la libre expresion

The protest in Plaza Italia began at 7:00 pm and the tear gas began at 7:05 pm, pure repression of freedom of expression.

Publicist Ivonne Cubillos (@ivocubillos) observed:

la marcha de plaza italia no pudo ser marcha, lacrimógenas y el guanaco la detuvieron, que linda democracia!!!

The march in Plaza Italia couldn't be a march, teargas and water launchers kept them back. What a lovely democracy!

The force used by the police against protesters was denounced by politicians as well as by the media, and even the General of the gendarme was called upon to testify about the “abuse” [es] (reported by El Mercurio online)

On the other hand, blogger Tomas Bradanovic posted the following comment against the protests with the title “Patagonia with Dams” [es]:

Los seres humanos tenemos una tendencia irresistible a seguir las modas y ahora que hay más comunicación es fácil masificarlas. Hoy está de moda ser “ambientalista” lo que es una catástrofe para el medio ambiente que lo que menos necesita son militantes tontos y manipulables […]

Human beings have an irresistible tendency to follow what's in fashion and now that we have better mediums of communication, it is much easier to spread them. It's now fashionable to be an “environmentalist” and the last thing the environment needs is a bunch of militant and manipulable fools.

Daniel Fernandez, executive vice-president of Hydroaysen, also expressed his distaste for the protests in an interview [es]with the online journal El Dinamo, dismissing the citizen resistance as a pitfall for the project just as with Barrancones [es] saying “100 Twitter users isn't a whole community.”

As far as the dissident voices, the protests have only just begun. There have been many other calls to take the streets on the 13th and 23rd of May. The leader of the protestsPatagonia Sin Represas [es] (Patagonia without Dams), has started an online petition and will take the battle to a legal level. In an interview with radio Bio-Bio [es], attorney Marcelo Castillo of Patagonia sin Represas announced with an animated regret that the new battle is starting, that about 20 such judicial, administrative as well as penal resources have all united against Hydroaysen.

Additionally, the director of Greenpeace Chile [es], Matias Asun, criticised the historical responsibility of political representatives of the country in recent years in the same radio station, saying that they have not taken the issue of the environment seriously.

Unlike the 90's, now social media and online communities have helped sensitise people about the repercussions of energy projects, just like with Barrancones in Punta de Chorros [es], canceled thanks to activism, and now Hydroaysen in the Aysen region. Information and open discussion have raised the voice of the people concerning their opinions on these developments, so that projects that were easily approved before now come under everyone's scrutiny.

1000 Chilean pesos bill with the phrase "Patagonia Without Dams" by Flickr user soy elOjo (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Elizabeth Rivera collaborated in the translation of this post.
Reposted byphaedrus phaedrus

May 09 2011

Brazil: Netizens Denounce Bloody Clothing Industry

On May 7, a campaign in Brazil against the killing of animals for the clothing industry [pt] became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #LeLisBlood. After Arezzo Boycott [pt] in mid-April, the company Le Lis Blanc is thus being pressured to stop using rabbit fur in its collection.

April 28 2011

April 19 2011

02mydafsoup-01

IFA: Neuzeitlicher Nutzbau

1

2

3

4

5

1 Schlossbrücke Königsberg/Kaliningrad, 1909, Wettbewerbsbeitrag
2 Werdermühle Breslau/Wroc&#c322;aw, 1907/1908, Projekt
3 Wasserturm für Winterhude, Hamburg, 1906/1907, Wettbewerbsbeitrag
4 Wasserturm an der Sternschanze, Hamburg, 1906/1907, Wettbewerbsbeitrag
5 Talsperre Klingenberg, 1908-1914, Aussichtskanzel
Fotos: Architekturmuseum der TU Berlin (1-4), Sabrina Dohle (5)

Neuzeitlicher Nutzbau

Den Industriebau nannte Poelzig 1911 "die wahre Monumentalbauaufgabe der Gegenwart". Das Wort bezeichnet den Widerspruch, der sich aus der Größe der Bauten einerseits und ihrer Ansiedlung ganz unten in der Hierarchie der Bauaufgaben ergab. Hinzu kamen die dem traditionellen architektonischen Empfinden konträren Eigenschaften neuer Baumaterialien: des Eisens, das im Verhältnis zum Stein bei gleicher Tragfähigkeit sehr viel geringer dimensioniert werden konnte, aber auch des armierten Betons, der nach den Regeln der Materialgerechtigkeit nicht bloß kaschiert in Erscheinung treten sollte.
Während Poelzig bei seinen frühen Wasserturm-Entwürfen für Hamburg (1906) den  Wasserbehälter im oberen Teil des Bauwerks noch mit vor allem optisch wirksamen, mächtig gegliederten Substruktionen auffängt, setzt er beim Entwurf für die Breslauer Werdermühle (1907) bereits ausschließlich auf die geschlossene Silhouette gestaffelter Baukörper.
Einzelne Bauten der Chemischen Fabrik in Luban (1910 – 1911) ebenso wie der Ausstellungs- und Wasserturm für Posen (1911) machen die eiserne Armierung ihrer Außenwände ablesbar etwa in der dünnen Profilierung der Oberfläche und dem strengen Raster der Wandöffnungen. Was dem Detail an Plastizität fehlt, ersetzt Poelzig durch die Großform: gotisierende Stufengiebel mit gemauerten Wandvorlagen oder die gestufte Silhouette eines ganzen Baukörpers prägen die Fernansichten der Gebäudes in Luban, die ohne Platzbildung, lediglich entlang weitgehend parallell verlaufender Zubringergleise errichtet wurden.
Das Geschäftshaus in der Breslauer Junkernstraße (1911 – 1913) bricht mit der bis dahin im Geschäftshausbau üblichen Vertikalgliederung. Mit der Betonung der Horizontalen wird das stockwerkweise Auskragen der Brüstungen optisch aufgefangen.
Die als reine Gewichtsstaumauer im konventionellen Steinverband errichtete Talsperre in Klingenberg (1908 – 1914) ist mit einer Art Tempelgiebel bekrönt.

 

April 14 2011

Brazil: Reading Habits and Cultural Roots

Written by Raphael Tsavkko Garcia

Journalist and blogger Marcos Bahé criticizes [pt] a statement made by Luciano Siqueira, a State Deputy of the Communist Party, who said that Brazilians don't read much because of oral traditions inherited from indigenous and african ancestors. Bahé ironically adds that he thought it was because books are expensive.

April 12 2011

El Salvador: Leader in Anti-Mining Movement Wins Goldman Environmental Prize

Written by Silvia Viñas

“Francisco Pineda, a leader in the anti-mining movement in Cabañas, was named yesterday one of the 2011 recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize,” Tim reports in his blog on El Salvador. “Francisco Pineda is a farmer with a degree in sustainable agriculture and is the founder and president of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, a community volunteer association.”

April 05 2011

Taiwan: Start-ups Ask “Where's the Love, Government?”

Written by Portnoy Zheng

As an CEO of a new start-up, Alex shares his feeling about the indifference of Taiwan government toward start-ups[zht]. He admires the positive policies of Singapore and US that encourage and welcome foreign start-ups. While wondering that is it “not-loving-Taiwan” if start-ups leave Taiwan for survival and for better global competence, he also questions “when will Taiwan government ever love start-ups back?”

April 01 2011

Jamaica: Environment Under Siege

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

“Jamaica’s coasts and vital mangroves have been under assault for decades from shoreline over development”: Labrish blogs about the latest victim.

March 31 2011

March 28 2011

Russia: 2010 Cyber-Crime Market Research

Written by Alexey Sidorenko

Group IB, Russian cyber-security research company, publishes [ru] Russian Cyber-Crime Market in 2010 report. According to the research, Russian hackers commit nearly 35 percent of all cyber-crimes. DDOS-attacks (from $90 to $300 per day of attack) are falling in price which makes this method of cyber-warfare more accessible to online actors.

March 24 2011

Taiwan: Call for Energy Policy Review

Written by I-fan Lin

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

The ongoing Fukushima nuclear power plant incident in Japan has alerted people in Taiwan about the safety of nuclear power plants in their own country.

In order to transform current concern into long term government policy, many netizens are demanding the Taiwanese government conduct a comprehensive review on the country's energy and industrial policy.

Policy paradox

Anti-nuclear rally in Taiwan capital, Taipei on March 20, 2011. Image by Flickr user KarlMarx (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Anti-nuclear rally in Taiwan capital, Taipei on March 20, 2011. Image by Flickr user KarlMarx (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

On February 14, 2011, approximately one month before the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Taiwan's Environmental Protection Administration held a public hearing in which the Bureau of Energy laid out the nation’s energy policy from 2011-2020.

However, environmental groups found the new energy policy violated the consensus [zh] formulated in the “Sustainable Energy Development Guidelines” (永續能源政策綱領) [zh] announced in 2008, as well as the “Statement of National Energy” conference held in 2009.

Contradicting the goals set for the reduction of greenhouse gas by increasing renewable energy and shifting the economy towards lower energy-consumption industry, the new policy supports the development of the petrochemical industry.

The failure to restructure Taiwan's industry creates a paradox for sustainable energy development, as Chia-Yang Tsai (蔡嘉陽) from the Taiwan Environmental Information Center points out [zh]:

工業消耗台灣60%以上的電力,價格又僅是民生用電一半以上,電價結構如此不合理,當然容易造成工業用電的浪費。提高工業用電的電價更可以淘汰高耗能、高汙染的產業,讓台灣的產業結構從根本上轉型,台灣的能源問題才能解決。

Industries in Taiwan consume more than 60% of the [nation's] total electricity, but the price of electricity for industries is cheaper by half than the price of electricity for personal livelihood. Because the price is so cheap for industries, it is easy for them to waste electricity. If we increase the price for industrial electricity, we may be able to eliminate those industries that consume a lot of energy and generate a lot of pollution. After we transform the structure of industries fundamentally, we will solve the energy problems.

An informed choice is needed

Man at an anti-nuclear rally Taiwanese capital, Taipei on March 20, 2011. Image by Flickr user KarlMarx (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Man at an anti-nuclear rally Taiwanese capital, Taipei on March 20, 2011. Image by Flickr user KarlMarx (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

As neighbour Japan's nuclear crisis continues, a more comprehensive energy policy review is needed in Taiwan, in particular regarding the development of the country's nuclear energy.

According to the an article [zh] about the high risk of nuclear energy, Yen (焱) expressed concern that the suspension of the nuclear power plants might cause electricity shortages in the country:

如果您接受了缺電的狀況並且可以安撫其他人接受電力不足的現實,就反吧!

If you are ready for electricity shortages and to convince other people to accept electricity shortagea, please go ahead and oppose nuclear power plants.

On the other hand, many netizens insist that even though Taiwanese people may ultimately choose to develop nuclear power, it is important for the public to understand the risks involved before making their choice. Blogger Subing argues [zh] on March 14:

擁核的人該提出理由說服台灣人為什麼大家要為幾家高耗能公司負擔這麼大的風險。

The supporters of nuclear electricity should convince us why we should take risks because of some high energy-consuming companies.

Questioning demand

In fact, upon checking the data released by the Taiwan Power Company, Siro argued [zh] in a forum discussion thread on March 21:

目前台灣的總發電量, 即使在尖峰負載, 也仍有 23.4% 的賸餘…就算現在把三座核電廠全部關閉, 台灣依然沒有立即的電力危機.

23.4% of the present total electricity generation is not even used in the peak demand period … If we suspend the three nuclear power plants, we should not face an immediate electricity shortage.

Siro continued to explain that nuclear energy is neither cheap nor clean:

核廢料處理及核電廠除役都很可能讓核能發電成本遠高於台電宣稱的成本.

The processing of nuclear waste after the suspension of the nuclear power plants may make the cost of nuclear energy higher than the Taiwan Power Company claimed.

Siro goes on to say however, that the process of suspending a nuclear power plant is not easy or straightforward:

我舉我住的澎湖為例, 澎湖舊火力發電廠位置接近市區, 當郊區新發電廠蓋好, 原電廠拆除後, 土地變成價值不斐, 而這一點是核電廠辦不到的..也是台電在計算成本中, 刻意去忽略的. 核電廠因為儲存核廢料, 即使關閉, 也永遠需要管理監控, 更不用說想要遷廠回收土地.

Take Penghu, the place I live, for example, the old thermal power plant was close to the downtown area. When the new power plant in suburb area was built, the old one was torn down. That land was sold for a lot of money. This is never happens to nuclear power plants … This is what the Taiwan Power Company intended to ignore when they calculated the cost. A nuclear power plant also stores nuclear waste. When [a nuclear plant] is suspended, it needs long-term management. It is not possible to remove the plant and use the land again.

The management of the nuclear power plants and nuclear waste is always a potential threat. Tyrone asked in the discussion section of the article on nuclear risk [zh] on March 14:

當中只要有一件事情疏忽是否就能造成核能污染事件. 為何我們要犧牲後代子孫的幸福造就個人的舒適?

If there is any mistake in [nuclear plant] management, radiation pollution takes place. Why do we want to sacrifice our future generation’s happiness for our own comfort?

This post is part of our special coverage Japan Earthquake 2011.

March 18 2011

Mexico: Telecom and Entertainment Industries Testify on ACTA

Written by Geraldine Juarez

As reported earlier on Global Voices, the Mexican Senate is currently holding public hearings with citizens, academics, lobbyists, and Internet service providers on the Anti-Counterfeit Commercial Agreement –widely known as ACTA. On March 2, lobbyists from the creative, telecommunications and entertainment industries in the ACTA Working Group had the opportunity to present their positions to the senators.

The meeting was transmitted live through the Congress' TV channel. However, the online stream did not work. Fortunately, Antonio Martínez from OpenActa was present and tweeted most of it. You can read his stream of tweets on Storify [es].

The positions of this round of the ACTA Working Group at the Mexican Senate were clear: ISPs, platforms, developers and content creators don’t like ACTA. On the other hand, the entertainment industry urged the Senate to adopt the treaty, as they see many advantages –their main concern is getting paid for the illegal downloads that they consider lost sales.

Roberto Cantoral, the leader of a group called Coalition to Access Legal Culture, asked the Senate to sign ACTA because he considers that there is a lack of laws to protect authors from new technologies. In his opinion [es], the concept of free information has been exploited to steal content.

Señores, ¿quieren dar cultura al pueblo? !Páguenla![.] ¿No dan ustedes educación gratuita a este país?[.] No puede ser posible que utilizen el trabajo de los creadores justificando el libre acceso a la información.

Sirs, do you want to give culture to the people? Pay for it! [.] Don't you give free education in this country? [.] You can't use the work of the creators justifying it with the free access to information

Some of the most relevant arguments against ACTA came from Google and Telmex.

Manuel Támez, Google's Director of Public Policy for Mexico and Latin America said [es]:

Internet habilita la creatividad, lejos de inhibirla. Internet es un democratizador del éxito

Internet enables creativity, it far from inhibits it. Internet democratizes success.

Tamez also said that ACTA must be limited to physical goods, as the name of the treaty indicates.

Marco Galván [es] explained the biggest concern for representatives of Telmex:

Hemos visto con preocupación la forma en que se desarrolló ACTA[.] reconocémos que muchos lineamientos han sido modificados en las últimas versiones pero queremos ratificar que Telmex se opone a cualquier medida que atente en contra de los derechos usuarios de internet, como la preservación de la identidad, presunción de inocencia y debido proceso.

We have seen with concern the way in which ACTA has been developed [.] We recognize that many guidelines have been modified in the last versions but we want to ratify that Telmex opposes any measure that threats the rights of Internet users, such as identity protection, presumption of innocence and due process.

Mario Fromow, also from Telmex, said [es]:

México no se debe dejar presionar por algunos países que quieren que firmen un tratado contrario al interés público [.] y limitar a nuestro país para adherirse a la sociedad de la información.

México should not let itself be pressured by other countries to sign a treaty contrary to the public interest [.] and limit our country's ability to join the information society.

Daniel Barroso from Encicloabierta [es] says the Senate has a big challenge ahead of them as they need to regulate in a way that does not violate any fundamental rights.

Jose Luis Chiquete from the free software industry, said [es]:

Estas sesiones han abierto los ojos acerca de la actual problemática del derecho de autor y el problema de los creadores que se aferran a los viejos modelos, [..] el problema no es la legislación, es la tecnología y como se aprovecha. Los piratas han aprovechado muy bien la tecnología, lo importante es que los propietarios de los derechos de autor hagan lo mismo y puedan competir con el mercado

These sessions have opened our eyes to the current copyright problem and the problem with creators that cling to the old models [.] the problem is not legislation, it is technology and how you take advantage of it. Pirates have taken very good advantage of it, the important thing now is that the copyright holders do the same and compete in the market.

Twitter user @europaenllamas compiled all the audio clips from the meeting [es].

After hearing all the interested parties, Senator Federico Doring (PAN) gave his opinion [es]:

ACTA no es una varita mágica [.] No es mediante un acuerdo internacional como se protege lo que ustedes están buscando [.]Si alguien les dijó que México tendría con ACTA las herramientas necesarias, les mintió.

ACTA is not a magic wand [.] It's not through an international agreement that we can protect what you are looking for [.] If someone told you that with ACTA Mexico will have the tools to do so, they lied to you.

There is clearly no consensus on ACTA yet, but resistance to the treaty is still growing in all sectors. However, some recent news provide a few hints as to what could happen. Newspaper El Universal published an article titled “Businessmen bend Blake's arm” [es] on important lobbyists requesting Secretary of State Francisco Blake to tackle piracy problem urgently.

The next session of the ACTA Working Group will be held on April 6, when government officials and negotiators involved in ACTA will testify before the Senate.

The entertainment industry was represented by lobbyists and lawyers like Jaime Campos (Association for the Protection of Film and Music), Luis Schmidt (Mexican Association to Protect Intellectual Property) and collection societies like Amprofon, Somexfon and the Coalition for the Access of Legal Culture (CALC), and the Society of Mexican Authors and Composers (SACM).

Manuel Támez from Google México, Marco Galván and Mario Fromow from Telmex, José Luis Chiquete from the Mexican Free Software Association (AMESOL), representatives of the Mexican Association of Internet Providers (AMIPCI) and Daniel Barroso from EncicloAbierta [es] were representing the telecommunications and creative industry.

March 16 2011

Bahamas: Energy Reform

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

“So here we are, two years after the last oil shock, and prices are over $100 per barrel again, with some forecasters saying they could pass the 2008 high of $147 a barrel that sent everyone scrambling to cut energy costs”: Bahama Pundit's Larry Smith looks at alternatives for the country's energy sector.

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