Indigenous peoples in Costa Rica and El Diquís hydroelectric project : indigenous identity, consultation and representation
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This thesis investigates the Brunca and the Teribe, two indigenous groups in Costa Rica, and their response to a proposed hydropower development on their territories. The Costa Rican Institute of Electricity (ICE) started the first attempt in order to extract the hydropower resources on the indigenous territory in 1970 with the Boruca – Cajón Project. However, this project stagnated and today the Proyecto Hidroelélectrico El Diquís (PHED) is the current alternative of the same project, affecting Téribe territory. A conflict‐line can be drawn between the Téribe fighting against the PHED, and those in favour of the plans. The aim of this study has been to investigate the resistance against the hydropower development in the indigenous communities and their arguments for fighting the project. I carried out a fieldwork in Costa Rica, doing interviews with the people involved in the struggle against the project, in addition to informal conversations, observations and literature review. The study present the narratives of the indigenous people fighting the hydropower, which finds the fear of destructive environmental and social impacts in the community to be the main argumentation against the dam. As such, the investigation discusses the concept of identity, in the context of the Brunca and the Téribe. In Boruca, my study shows how the Brunca have been able to visualize their indigenous identity, and developed a successful tourism industry in their community. Moreover, the indigenous identity appears to have become more important in the meeting with the hydropower development.