Indigenous Communities in Nahuizalco Resisting Necolonialism
By Centro Techantit in Conversation with Pedro Rodríguez and Haydee Sanchez
Private investors' plans to construct a hydroelectric dam in Indigenous Nahuat territories in Nahuizalco, El Salvador, have hit road blocks as Indigenous communities that co-exist with the Sensunapán River continue to denounce and resist the negative affects this project will have on their communities. Nahuat elders would be the most affected if this neocolonial project is not halted, as it would cut their ancestral water supply.
Pedro Rodríguez, one of the leaders of the Council of Nahuat Pipil Original Peoples of Nahuizalco (COPONAPN), talks to us about the sacrifices made to resist the building of this eighth damn, Nahuizalco II:
"In 2014, there was a public town hall in Juayúa where we, the Indigenous community, said we did not want an eighth dam and so the project and town hall were suspended. But in June 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of the Environment called for a town hall in Nahuizalco without informing us. Paradoxically, the government was telling us to stay inside [and quarantine] despite the Ministry of the Environment's efforts to move forward with the town hall. Therefore, under this pressure, we attended and some of us contracted COVID-19. Nevertheless, COPONAPN and other organizations mobilized and collected 2500 signatures declaring we did not approve of the eighth damn. Also, Nahuizalco's city government asked that the consultation process be suspended. We also asked that they suspend the consultations and a suspension was achieved."
Tata Pedro also tells us about the cultural, social, and economic impacts that the hydroelectric dam will have in Nahuizalco. The dam represents a threat to the co-existence between Nahuat Indigenous communities and their ancestral lands:
"We also disagree [with the hydroelectric project] because it would destroy sacred places that are in the river. We will lose access to the natural pools where children and young people go to bathe. The river will dry up because they will divert the water and remove more than 4 kilometers (equivalent to more than 2 miles). Furthermore, they will destroy trees on the verge of extinction and they will remove our source of food as our people go out to fish which will no longer be possible if they dry up the river."
Nana Haydee, member of the board of directors of Centro Cultural Techantit, adds: "We also need water for our crops. The dam will destroy flora and fauna in the region."
Although the resistance of the Nahuat community against the construction of this project has lasted for many years and has managed to block the construction up until now, investors have a lot of power and continue to insist.
Support for the Nahuat people of Nahuizalco in denouncing this hydroelectric project to conserve ancestral lands is urgent.
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