How to Ensure Eternal Poverty for Indigenous People

In Costa Rica a 650 MW hydropower project in which $129 million has already been invested, has made no progress in 20 years, pending an "intercultural dialogue" which has not even begun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The problem is not that infrastructure is to be built in indigenous territories without dialogue . Nor it is that the dialogue is fruitless. A conflict has not even arisen. Simply put, there is no dialogue to channel the negotiations with small indigenous tribes over the use of part of their territory for the construction of a hydropower station which is vital for the development of all of Costa Rica, including the indigenous inhabitants themselves.

The hydroelectric project El Diquís was conceived of in 1996 to be the country's largest dam, and probably the largest in Central America, with capacity to generate up to 650 MW. Its implementation is essential to ensure the prevalence of the use of renewable energy resources in the country. However, although the Costa Rican Electricity Institute has invested more than $100 million in research and analysis, the project is conditional on "intercultural dialogue with indigenous peoples in the area," on which "deadlines can not be imposed". The most serious part of this is the fact that this dialogue has not even started, so another 20 years could easily pass without any major progress for the country's development project. reports that "... The last five administrations (since 1996), did not even have a guide or protocol to comply with this process, which would pave the way for the construction of El Diquís. To date, neither the Ombudsman nor the ICE, nor the natives of the area, know of a way forward. Spokespersons from the Presidential House , however, say a process has now been started to define it. Although the Deputy Minister of the Presidency, Ana Gabriel Zuniga, estimates that a deadline can not be imposed, she said that they will try to do so soon. "

More on this topic

650 MW Hydroelectric Project: Yes or No?

May 2018

The new Minister of Environment and Energy in Costa Rica is opposed to the Diquís project, which the state electricity company has been promoting for ten years, and which consists of building a hydroelectric generation plant in Puntarenas.

While the new leaders of the Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) announced their intention to refloat the project, which due to unconstitutionality appeals filed against it has remained on paper for years, the Ministry of Environment and Energy has declared its opposition, stating that "... there are no studies or other assessments on the social and economic impact that justify the declaration of national convenience given to the project a decade ago."

Revival of El Diquís Hydroelectric Project in Costa Rica

March 2016

A story that has now been going on for twenty years could be resumed with the adoption of a legal framework to be used to consult with the natives living in the area where the 650 MW plant would be built.


Finally, there is a legal framework to start once and for all the "intercultural dialogue" that is needed to give the green light to the construction of one of the most important hydroelectric projects for the future energy supply of the country.

Never Enough Electricity

June 2015

The great hydroelectric project in southern Costa Rica, is back on the discussion table, with debate centering around the necessary vision on future energy supply versus the strong opposition by indigenous and environmentalist groups.

An article on reports that "...

Electricity, Indigenous People, Development

April 2014

In Costa Rica the high electricity rates are driving out foreign investment while indigenous opposition impedes progress of the construction of a 650 MW hydroelectric power plant.

It is time that the region starts to balance conservation policies with the needs of development so as to allow an escape from poverty for those who are currently held down by it and who at the same time are holding the rest of society hostage.