Chile: Præsidentfavorit imod kontroversielle dæmninger

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Der har længe kørt en international kampagne mod planer om flere store dæmninger i det naturskønne område Patagonia i Chile, og nu har den tidligere præsident og nuværende favorit til præsidentposten i det latinamerikanske kystland udtalt, at hun er modstander af projektet, skriver International Rivers.

Chile’s presidential front-runner Michelle Bachelet recently made a very public statement against HidroAysén when she appeared on a billboard for Senator Guido Girardi’s campaign next to the slogan “Somos Patagonia Sin Repreas” (We are Patagonia Sin Represas), International Rivers writes Tuesday.

In an interview with Chilean Newspaper El Mercurio de Antofagasta, the former president also re-affirmed a statement she made back in June, before the primary elections, saying that HidroAysén is not viable, and should not go forward.

Among questions about immigration, healthcare and the constitution, Bachelet was asked directly if she still held her position towards HidroAysén, to which she answered, “I believe there are alternative mechanisms and we will work towards those.”

Direct questions about HidroAysén, as well more general questions about the future of Chile’s energy policies, have taken a front seat in this year’s elections.

Thanks in large part to the Vota Sin Represas campaign as well as the widespread public opposition to HidroAysén over the past few years, politicians are being forced to confront this controversial project and make clear their opinions on what they see as the future for the development of energy resources in Chile.

The major call of the Vota Sin Represas campaign is for candidates to commit to a democratic energy policy for Chile, one that involves a variety of voices and is not beholden to the demands of private interest.

In the compromiso, candidates pledge to re-orient the current energy model in Chile towards the needs of Chileans, focusing on social, environmental and economic sustainability in order to avoid mega-projects such as HidroAysén.

While Bachelet has yet to sign on to this agreement, her interview in El Mercurio echoes these very ideas: “I have…pointed out that economic development must go hand in hand with the welfare of the people and the care of our environment.

Bachelet recognizes and voices that HidroAysén is not inline with the future that Chile needs, nor with what the people of Aysén want – a recent poll of people living in Aysén found that over 87% of citizens are against the project, while the latest countrywide poll puts the national figures at 62%.

Bachelet remains the favorite to win November’s elections, having won more than two thirds of the votes for the New Majority coalition in June’s primary elections. On the Right, Pablo Longueira beat Andres Allamand during the primary elections to lead the center-right Alliance.

However in a surprise announcement a few weeks ago Longueria dropped out of the race due to health reasons. Evelyn Matthei, current Labor Minister under President Piñera, has replaced him, marking Chile’s first presidential race with women representing the major coalitions.

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