Switch Off

Presented in Collaboration with International Rivers Network
Introduced by Patrick McCully

Patrick McCully is executive director of the International Rivers Network, an organization that protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them. Since 1992, Mr. McCully has worked on dam-related campaigns across the globe. He is the author of Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams.

(Apaga y vamonos). For centuries, the Pehuenche-Mapuche have lived along the Bíobío River in Chile's Ralco Valley. For centuries, these indigenous people have repelled all intruders, the Incas and the Spanish conquistadors included, affording some autonomy for themselves within the Chilean state. But they had never encountered the likes of the Endesa Corporation, a Spanish hydroelectric firm bent on building one of the world's largest dams on the Bíobío. Manel Mayol's handsomely shot and ironically humorous documentary sides strongly with the Mapuche people as they resist the water-grabbing efforts of Endesa, which, we find out, also means resisting a State that has used its anti-terrorist laws to stifle protest. Though giving passionate voice to the protestors, Switch Off is not the bearer of good news. The dam is built, and the Mapuche are relocated to an unfriendly territory where they live in shoddy homes that rely on power from the new hydroelectric facility. Just so you'll know for the future: this is what a muddied deal looks like.

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.