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Illegal office occupation in Osorno, Chile

24 Oct, 2018

In the morning of Tuesday 23 October, a group of 27 persons illegally and by force took control of the offices of Statkraft in Osorno, Chile. All Statkraft staff were forced to leave the office, but no one suffered any physical harm. The illegal occupants were later evicted by the local police.

After taking control of Statkraft’s CSR office in Osorno, the group issued a communication stating that they defend the rights of the Mapuche people in the Pilmaiquen River, where Statkraft has a hydropower plant and two hydroelectric projects. The group also raised several demands to Statkraft and the authorities.

Local and national authorities in Chile advised that the police should intervene to avoid an escalation of the situation. The eviction was carried out by the police before nightfall yesterday, and the 27 individuals were placed in holding cells at the local police station. All but one, who had a warrant for his arrest, were released after 12 hours. 

Statkraft’s project development activities

Statkraft owns and operates the Rucatayo hydropower plant in the area. The facility was not affected and all Statkraft staff are safe. Statkraft owns the rights to two hydropower development projects in the area. The original design of one of the projects, Osorno, caused great concern in the local communities, as the development was perceived to impact the ceremonial religious complex of Ngen Mapu Kintuante.

Since Statkraft’s acquisition of the projects in 2015, Statkraft has conducted a detailed dialogue with the local communities. Taking into account the inputs and views expressed by the communities, Statkraft decided to re-evaluate the project and communicate to the local communities that the original Osorno project will be re-designed so as to not impact the Kintuante-site and will be subject to a full consultation. Statkraft has also expressed to the local communities the intention to return the territorial space linked to the Ngen Mapu Kintuante to the communities. This approach to the development has been well received locally.

In light of the situation in Osorno yesterday, Statkraft plans to provide local stakeholders with information on the incident and how to engage with the local communities going forward. Furthermore, Statkraft has decided to take legal action and file charges against the members of the group that were trespassing and damaged the company’s property.