May 15, 2002
Maya Indian urges Newfoundland power company to cancel rainforest dam:

Environmentalists target Fortis shareholders' meeting

Maya Indian and naturalist Eligorio Sho will join Canadian environmentalists in Newfoundland tomorrow to urge Fortis shareholders to abandon its plans for a hydro scheme that would flood Belize's Macal RiverValley.

"This dam will destroy my people's heritage," says Sho, a Maya descendent who researches the endangered Scarlet Macaw and discovered many of the ruins that would be inundated by Fortis' dam.

"If Fortis builds the dam, the ancient rainforest and the Maya sites in the river valley will be gone forever."

Sho and other environmentalists, including Sierra Club's Elizabeth May and Newfoundland's political satirist Greg Malone, will gather outside the Fortis shareholders' meeting scheduled for 11:00 AM on May 15th at the Holiday Inn in St. John's.

The coalition is also inviting Fortis shareholders and other members of the public to attend an evening forum at 7:30 PM, Hampton Hall, Marine Institute, 156 Ridge Road, St. John's.

A panel discussion will follow a screening of the National Geographic documentary, "Paradise in Peril," which features Sho tracking the few remaining scarlet macaw in the Macal river valley.  Sho will speak about the threats posed by Fortis' dam to Maya heritage and the valley's rare and endangered wildlife.

Fortis Inc., a TSE-listed power and real estate firm, owns the Belize Electric Company which plans to build the $45 million Chalillo dam and sell its output to the national utility, Belize Electricity, also owned by Fortis.

Fortis President and CEO Stanley Marshall has said his company is ready to start building but construction has been stalled since February when environmental and tourism groups in Belize filed two lawsuits challenging the hydro deal.

This is the second year in a row that environmentalists have targeted the Fortis shareholder meeting in St. John's. Earlier this year, Greg Malone presented the company with thirty-thousand no-dam petitions collected on the coalition's web site. "Fortis could not get away with building such a wildly uneconomic dam in Newfoundland so we have a special obligation to help Belizeans stop Fortis in their country," says Malone, who led a successful campaign in 1995 to prevent Fortis' takeover of Newfoundland's hydro assets.

The coalition to save the Macal River Valley includes Belizean conservation groups, Newfoundland's Humber Environment Action Group, Toronto-based Probe International, and the Sierra Club of Canada.


Greg Malone, Coalition to Save the Macal River Valley, St. John's,

, Probe International, Toronto, Ontario,
Phone 416 964 9223 ext.228

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