San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Vice President Piva to oversee controversial hydroelectric project

During this year’s first meeting on environmental issues, the Costa Rican government assigned Vice President Alfio Piva to oversee the coordination of the controversial Diquís hydroelectric plant in Buenos Aires in the country’s Southern Zone.

Piva, who will head a team of 15 other technical experts from government institutions, said on Wednesday that “Diquís will not only generate energy, it will propel an integral development …of social well-being and generate employment.”

Should the Diquís dam be built, it would be the largest hydroelectric plant in Central America at 630 megawatts. The project would employ roughly 3,500 people and electricity generated at Diquís could be exported to neighboring countries.

But progress at the dam has run into a wall of opposition from indigenous communities near Buenos Aires. The project would flood approximately 685 hectares of protected land, forcing 40 families of the nearby Teribe tribe to leave its property.

Tribe members cite the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, which bars governments from removing, in any form, indigenous people from their land. Teribe tribe member Jarol Segura has told The Tico Times that he will not grant consent to the government to expropriate him and will not allow the dam to be built (TT Sept. 3, 2010).

A report released in July, 2010 by the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law stated that “Costa Rica has failed to respect and protect the human rights of its indigenous peoples…in decisions surrounding the hydroelectric project,” rendering the project illegal under binding international accords.

Some crafty maneuvering lies ahead for Piva. Still, he insisted that “the project will bring great benefits to the zone.”

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