Home Institution

University of Oregon

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Panama: Tropical Ecology, Marine Ecosystems, and Biodiversity Conservation


Hydroelectric development has increased rapidly throughout Latin America in the late 20th and early 21st centuries (del Mar Rubio et al. 2014). In 2014, Latin America represented 20 percent of the world’s hydropower (del Mar Rubio et al. 2014). It is also the main source of power generation throughout Latin America, accounting for roughly 65 percent of all electricity generated (Wheeler 2012). Within Panamá, significant hydroelectric development has been happening in the Chiriquí province. Local peoples’ dissatisfaction with the actions of the hydropower companies has increased with time, resulting in civilians and organizations taking action in opposition to these companies and hydroelectric development (Hofstede and Ojeda 2013) . However, several dams have been constructed in last decade (Bigda-Peyton et al. 2012). In Chiriquí province, there is a growing environmental movement related to the protection of community water sources (Hofstede and Ojeda 2013 In order to provide a sample perspective of the regional anti-dam movement residents living near to the uppermost dam sites of the Chiriquí Viejo River and local environmental activists were interviewed. In total, 34 semi-structured interviews were conducted over a period of 14 days. Using qualitative analysis and quantitative methods perspectives were compared between activists and residents to look for convergences and inconsistencies. This investigation provides a cultural perspective on the regional environmental movement and its ties to hydroelectric development.


Community-Based Learning | Community-Based Research | Environmental Health | Environmental Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Latin American Studies | Nature and Society Relations | Organization Development | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Work, Economy and Organizations

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