Last week, the Chilean government rejected plans to construct the highly controversial HidroAysen dam project, which would have built dams on two of Patagonia’s rivers. Opponents, organized into a coalition known as the Patagonia Defense Council, had fought the project from the outset, fearing that it would endanger both the environment and the local communities. Although the government had initially approved the project in 2011, last week Chile’s highest administrative authority, the Committee of Ministers, cancelled the environmental permit that would have allowed the project to move forward. A statement released by NGO International Rivers (IR) called the Committee’s decision a “landmark for the country.” IR’s Monti Aguirre stated that strong pressure from civil society played the most important role in the government’s verdict, making the decision, according to Patricio Segura of NGO CODESA, a “tremendous victory for citizens.” The companies behind the dams now have the opportunity to appeal the decision in an environmental court. For the full story, see and