The Fight for Puelo Libre



The Puelo River basin is a paradise in Northern Patagonia. It begins in the Lago Puelo National Park in Argentina and continues between narrow valleys, forming turquoise pools along the way.

The community of “Domingo Cayun Panicheo” is located in the villages of Segundo and Primer Corral. Theses villages are in the Puelo River valley, in the Lakes Region of Chile. This is a Mapuche community that is currently living in conflict since projects to develop hydroelectric dams are in process and only awaiting approval from the state to be constructed in the valley.

This huge construction project, called Central de Pasada Mediterranéo, has fixed it’s eye on the convergence of the Manso and Torrentoso rivers, which feed the Puelo river. They come together 9 km from Paso El León, on the Argentinean border.

The project focuses on capturing, diverting and then returning around 90% of the water channels through a 5.5 kilometer subterranean tunnel to deliver 210 MW to the Interconnected Central System (SIC). It also implies the layout of a high-voltage transmission line 61 km long, composted of 203 towers, each 28 meters high meant to bring the energy to a central power plant, which would go along the Manso river, the north bank of lake Tagua Tagua, and the Reloncaví estuary.

This conflict is a very sensitive topic for all the inhabitants of the valley, since their entire history is here, the history of their ancestors who forged, worked and maintained the territory free and pristine. These projects are not welcomed by the community since they deny them the right to a life of dignity and the right to make decisions about their own territory. As such, the community has declared its resistance as a fight for life and for all humanity as well, defending the right to water, a vital and indispensable resource for present and future generations.

The hydroelectric construction project affects the community of Domingo Cayun Panicheo in that the binational route that is planning on being constructed would pass directly through the village and affect the cleanest part of the community. It would pass through the Rewue, a place of great ceremonial importance, as well as the Mallin, a wetland that is the home to native woods. In addition, it would pass through the community cemetery and the entire village of Segundo Corral. What the community is asking for is that the route be moved to run behind these important areas of Segundo Corral, which would give importance to the village and not push it aside or leave it abandoned.

Initially, one of the main ideas of the transmission line route was to lift the people out of isolation. Later the community began to see that the route would be very wide and cause tremendous destruction of the surrounding nature. It would also be an international route, passing between Argentina and Chile. According to the chief of the community, this is a project that would facilitate or open doors for other mining and hydroelectric activities that would ultimately greatly affect this entire area.

We need people to be informed and aware of what is happening in La Mapu, or the earth, of this community. ViveSUP’s mission is to aid in the defense and protection against the invasion of large companies that only look to enrich themselves at the cost of a community that has existed since before the colonization of Chile, that has been invaded and destroyed many times already due to greed and money, and for whose culture and identity these large companies show no respect.

Please join us in our fight!