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CHILE: Courts Give Green-Light to Continued Construction of Dam

SANTIAGO- The Endesa power company was given the go-ahead to continue work on the Ralco dam when the Supreme Court of Justice threw out an appeal filed by two indigenous activists opposed to the hydroelectric project.

Berta and Nicolasa Quintremán, of the Pehuenche ethnic group, challenged the legality of the decrees authorizing construction of the Ralco dam, but the Supreme Court rejected their arguments.

Nevertheless, work cannot continue until all of the Pehuenche Indians living in the area to be flooded by the dam agree to the government’s proposed land swap.

Located along the Upper Bio Bio River, 600 kilometers from Santiago, the Ralco dam will flood one of Chile’s richest ecosystems.


COSTA RICA: New Boost for Organic Crops

SAN JOSE – The Costa Rican government plans to support organic farming, a healthier and more eco-friendly practice than agriculture based on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Felicia Chavarría, the director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Organic Agriculture Program, reported that the government would organize a meeting in March with researchers from throughout the country to discuss strategies for the promotion of organic farming.

The scientists will meet in the Tropical Agricultural Center for Research and Education, where they will study successful projects that could be applied at a nationwide level in Costa Rica.


CUBA: Biological Pest Control

HAVANA – A factory donated by China, which will begin to produce bio-pesticides by the end of the year, will enable Cuba to step up its biological pest control efforts.

The factory is being built in the province of Matanzas, around 100 kilometers from Havana, and will become part of a research and production-oriented complex that includes laboratories specializing in areas like virology, entomology, and toxicology.

Cuba, which began to employ plant-based pest control techniques in the 1970s, will now produce around 500 tons a year of biological means of protecting its crops.


VENEZUELA: Biodiversity Threatened by Exotic Plant Species

CARACAS – Of the 1,410 exotic species of plants counted by the Environment Ministry, 139 species affect Venezuela’s farms and natural habitat.

The hardest hit areas are around Valencia Lake, the Lake Maracaibo basin, the northern part of the state of Sucre, and the plains and Andes mountains regions in general, where outside species have forced out native plants.

The Environment Ministry underlined that the exotic species drove up production costs for farmers and stockbreeders, because to keep the invading species out requires the use of chemical products.

Venezuela is one of the countries in the world with the greatest biodiversity, measured by the number and genetic variety of live organisms.

* Source: Inter Press Service.

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