Chilean police arrest three people protesting work on electricity transmission line

The residents of La Dormida have been protesting for months against the construction of pylons for the Cardones Polpaico project on account of the impact it will have on their day-to-day life, as well as the Campana Pañuelas, one of the important biosphere reserves in the country

April 15, 2019 by Peoples Dispatch
The residents of La Dormida took over one of the pylons of the Cardones Polaico project after authorities ignored their concerns for months.

On April 11, around 15 police officers of the Special Police Operation Group (GOPE) of Chile arrested three people protesting the construction of the Cardones Polpaico project, an electricity transmission line, in the mountainous La Dormida area of the Valparaiso region. In a video on social media, the residents of La Dormida also denounced the disappearance of another group of protesters following the eviction operation by GOPE.

The community in La Dormida has been vociferously demanding the scrapping of the project. From April 2, three residents – two men and one woman – were protesting atop one of the high voltage pylons. The protesting community has pointed out that the project would not only affect their everyday life but would have a grave impact on the Campana Pañuelas, one of the important biosphere reserves in the country.

The electricity transmission project is a single power line project to be built along a 750 km-long road, extending from the Cardones substation to the Polpaico substation, with more than 1,700 pylons, each of which is 60 m high. The multinational company, Interchile SA, which has been providing electricity transmission and transportation services in Chile since 2012, is carrying out the project.

The National Tourism Service (SERNATUR) and the National Forest Corporation (CONAF) warned the government, as well as the company, on the ill effects of the project on the environment. Despite this, the project in continuing and some pylons have already been erected.

The inhabitants of La Dormida told Resumen Latinoamericano that the mobilizations against the installation of the pylons began four months ago, but the authorities didn’t pay attention. It was then that the community members decided to capture one of the pylons. They also condemned the exploitative and dangerous conditions endured by the workers, mainly migrants with no papers.

On April 6, over five thousand people, environmentalists and social and human rights activists mobilized in Limache city in the Marga Marga province, rejecting the Cardones Polpaico project, as well as the Los Rulos thermoelectricity plant. The demonstrators gathered at the Palmira Romano and José Tomás Urmeneta avenues and marched to the Plaza de Armas. The protest was called for by the Movimiento Libres de Alta Tensión under the banner of “Goodbye Chao Cardones Polpaico, goodbye Los Rulos! We march in defense of the Biosphere Reserve!”

On April 1 too, five thousand people took part in a march in Villa Alemana against the construction of Los Rulos thermoelectric plant, a project of the IC power company that will be located in the Los Laureles sector, near the biosphere reserve in Limache. Environmentalists said the plant will have severe environmental consequences. The water consumption and the emission of harmful pollutants in the air will adversely affect the La Campana Peñuelas biosphere.