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For Immediate Release, April 22, 2009

Contact: Peter Galvin, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 907-1533

AES Corporation Leadership and Shareholders to Be Notified of
Company's Contribution to the Demise of the Ngobe Tribe of
Panama and La Amistad International Park

WASHINGTON, D.C. La Amistad International Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that provides habitat for hundreds of rare, endemic, endangered, and migratory species, and is directly adjacent to the home of the Ngobe tribe.

AES Corporation is a Virginia-based company planning to construct three hydroelectric dams on the Changuinola River, the lifeblood of the park. The dams will flood Ngobe villages and create insurmountable barriers for fish species upon which the tribes rely. Yet AES behaves as if it is unaware of these issues, maintaining it has a “commitment to be environmentally responsible.” Therefore, Center for Biological Diversity Conservation Director Peter Galvin will attend Thursday’s shareholder meeting to make sure AES leadership and shareholders are aware of the irreversible damage the dams will cause.

Galvin will speak and distribute a letter to AES President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hanrahan highlighting the developments that have occurred since Galvin last wrote Hanrahan in August 2007, including:

  • March 2009: Ombudsman Office of Panama issued a special report on human-rights violations and the construction of the dam.
  • October 2008: The InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights held a public hearing on the legality of the displacement of the Ngobe tribe and the alleged failure of AES to obtain prior, informed consent.
  • August 2008: Mr. James Anaya, a UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, issued a declaration expressing concern about the Ngobe affected by the dam.
  • July 2008: The World Heritage Committee found that there is an “absence of any planned measures to mitigate the impact of the hydroelectric dams…and…absence of an effective participatory management process involving civil society and government authorities,” and requested that Panama develop and implement measures to monitor mitigation, ensure the needs of the community are met, and carry out a cumulative-effects analysis of the dam construction.

Galvin wants the AES Corporation to terminate its involvement with the dams on the Changuinola.

“AES claims that it is a socially and environmentally responsible company, yet is rushing ahead with projects which will cause irreversible damage to one of the most pristine ecosystems on earth, and will cause thousands of indigenous people to be essentially forcibly relocated from their homes and villages. Shame on AES. We call for AES to immediately halt the environmentally and socially catastrophic dam projects on the Changuinola River.”

Galvin added, “Studies have shown that these projects will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions due to the massive amount of methane released from tropical dam reservoirs.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 220,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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