Press Release - Tuesday, April 3, 2001

130,000 Canadians sign letters addressed to Minister Pettigrew calling for tighter regulation of the Export Development Corporation
For immediate release
(Ottawa, April 3, 2001) – Representatives of indigenous peoples in Chile and Colombia are in Ottawa to speak about the devastating impacts of Export Development Corporation (EDC) trade-financing.  
Specifically, civil society leaders have come to protest EDC’s financing of US$17 million for the construction of the Ralco dam on the Biobío river in Chile and of US$18 million for the construction of the Urrà dam on the Sinu river in Colombia. Ralco is the second dam on the Biobío river. EDC also provided US$20.5 million for the first dam, Pangue. 
“The Ralco dam is changing the way of life of my people forever”, says Sara Imilmaqui Aguas, a Mapuche leader. “This dam will bring social, economic and cultural chaos to what is now a self-sufficient community living in harmony with the environment”.
Alberto Achito, a leader of the Embera people attested to the devastation an EDC-financed project. “The Urrà dam has brought with it repression. It has wiped out our food supply, displaced hundreds of our people, led to the assassination of our leaders who demanded the right to be consulted and brought an epidemic of mosquito-borne diseases directly linked to the flooding caused by the dam”. 
Unlike the Urrà dam in Colombia, the Ralco dam was financed by EDC after it approved an environmental policy meant to minimize environmental and social impacts. EDC will not disclose any environmental or social information collected through the application of its policy. EDC is exempted from the Access to Information Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. 
The World Bank has refused to finance the Ralco dam, because of violations of the company of environmental and social requirements for the first dam, Pangue. Environmental organizations and the indigenous people of Chile are challenging the Ralco dam in the courts. 
“Canada’s EDC has gone ahead with financing a Canadian company involved in this project even though the Chilean courts have still not decided if it is legal”, said Rodgrio Garreton Kralemann, of the NGO Action Group for the Biobío river. 
The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE, together with the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation, a working group of the Halifax Initiative are jointly demanding that the EDC be required by law to follow an environmental assessment process under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and to disclose information on the environmental and social impacts. 
Today 130,000 letters from Canadians were presented to the office of Minister Pettigrew calling on the government to regulate Canadian companies and EDC for business abroad.