Despite continuous protests and public outcry against the construction of the El Chaparral dam in the department of San Miguel, Hermán Rosa Chávez, the Minister of Environment, announced this week that the license to build the dam cannot be legally annulled. El Diario de Hoy reported that Rosa Chávez said that it would be up to President Funes to make a final decision after having a dialogue between government officials and community leaders.
The environmental impact study completed before construction began has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency and full analysis. There is also great contention about the benefits of this project due to the flooding of communities that will result. Individuals whose land will be lost have been assured by contractors and government officials that they would be compensated. However, many local citizens claim they were deceived by the Comisión Ejecutiva del Río Lempa (CEL) concerning the purchase of lands for the project.
According to the Salvadoran Foundation for Social and Economic Development (FUSADES), the current level of energy production will be insufficient for El Salvador’s growing energy consumption, and if investment in energy sources is not increased by 2013, the country may face rations.
However, because of the size and population density of El Salvador, large dam projects are undesirable. In the past, they have served to displace populations in rural areas, destroy farmland, and cause unrest among local populations. Furthermore, past governments have often been more interested in exporting the energy produced instead of providing for the Salvadoran population. There are other means of obtaining new energy sources that do not include flooding communities and homes. This has been the message of resistance efforts against El Chaparral.