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Yacyreta Dam on the Parana River, Argentina-Paraguay


In 1973 the Yacyreta Treaty, signed by Argentine President Peron and the Paraguayan dictator Stroessner, envisaged the construction of the Yacyreta dam along the Parana River, on the border between the two countries. The dam would flood 100,000 ha of land and displace many communities, including the indigenous Mbya Guarani people, whose territory would be completely submerged. Residents opposing the dam construction protested against the loss of their property and land rights. Despite this opposition the dam began construction in 1979, but the floodgates were closed and the dam was filled for the first time in 1994, provoking the evacuation of another 20,000 local residents. The survivors still demand compensation they never received from the forced displacement. The project was originally budgeted at $2.5 billion, during the period of military dictatorships in Argentina and Paraguay. The project’s total cost has now exceeded $15 billion. During his presidential campaign, Argentina’s Carlos Menem called Yacyretá "a monument to corruption." As International Rivers denounces, "despite well–documented allegations implicating engineering and construction companies and politicians in siphoning off public funds in the building of Yacyretá, no one has ever been brought to justice.”

In 2003, the Heads of State of Argentina and Paraguay jointly decided to finish the mega-infrastructure whose work were done by 2011. Before February 2011 the water level was 76 m (249 ft) above sea level, around 7 m (23 ft) less than planned. This meant that the hydroelectric section of the dam operated at only 60 percent of its capacity. In 2010 and again in 2014 environmental organizations, such as the Union Ambientalistas de Corrientes (Unamco), warned through social medias about the risk for the dam to collapse due to important cracks on it. The authority in charge of the dam, the EBY (Entidad Biacional de Yacyreta), denied twice the warnings. According to the engineer Roberto Rios, environmentalist leader from Unamco, the authorities are ignoring the frightening fact that the cracks on the dam are indeed multiplying.

Current plans to increase the height of the reservoir would put another 80,000 people in danger of being flooded out, and even studies by two international finance institutions like the WB and the IADB prove there is poor capacity to cope with that.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Yacyreta Dam on the Parana River, Argentina-Paraguay
State or province:Corrientes
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The water level is 76 meters high. The dam is 808 metres long and has 20 turbines. Installed power capacity: 3,100 MW

In 2015 the dam reached a production average of 19.700 gigawatt per hour. Its production is about to be increased with the foreseen future construction of three new turbines.

Project area:100,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project15,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:20000
Start of the conflict:1983
Company names or state enterprises:Sacyr from Spain
Dumez from Argentina
Entidad Binacional Yacyreta (EBY) from Argentina
Salini Impregilo from Italy
Relevant government actors:Government of Argentina, Government of Paraguay
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Guaranis of Argentina, La Asociación de Comunidades Indígenas de Itapúa (ACIDI), International Tribunal of Indigenous People, in USA, ONG Sobrevivencia, International Rivers Network

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The dam was built and there is a new plan to increase its electricity production capacity. The affected communities want compensation, and no further flooding. There is also a strong debate in Paraguay in 2012 on the proposed Rio Tinto smelter (that would consume much electricity at a cheap tariff).

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Tratado de Yacyreta y Normas complementarias

ILO Convention 169

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

La tierra que nos quitaron. Carrasco, Morita; Briones, Claudia. Ed. Iwgia. 1996

La lucha contra los modernos dinosaurios. World Rainforest Movement. 2003

La Debacle de Argentina. Una Argentina que muere y otra que bosteza. Gabetta, Carlos. Icaria. 2002

Final report of the Independent Investigation Mechanism on Yacyretá Hydroelectric Project

Beneficios y Costos de Elevar la Cota del Proyecto Hidroeléctrico de Yacyretá, G. Terol, J. Reid, 2004

La lucha campesina 1990-2004. Pilz, Dania; Quintin, Riquelme; Rodriguez, Mirtha; Villalba, Roberto. Centro de documentacion y estudios. 2004. Represas.

Argentina from Pern to Cavallo (1945-2003). Economic History of Argentina from the Post-war until today. Silvestri, Francesco. CLUEB. 2004

Documental sobre las comunidades Mbya Guaraní desplazadas por la construcción de Yacyretá, 17/08/2015

La presa de Yacyretá · Paraguay – Argentina, Agua Rios y Pueblos, 13/10/2011

Yacyretá Dam, International Rivers

Wikipedia - Represa de Yaciretà

Yaciretá en problemas por rotura de muro de contención, Fundacion Eco Urbano, 17/02/2014

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Dam pictures[email protected]/3990790089/in/photostream/

Meta information

Contributor:Lucie Greyl (A SUD) and Daniela Del Bene (ICTA-UAB)
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:441



View over the Yacyretá dam

Aereal view of Yacyreta Dam