Dozens of dams were built in South America between the 1960s and early 1990s. Many were financed by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, to bring progress to the continent by harnessing its powerful rivers for industry and growing urban populations.
The largest of these dams was Yacyretá, on the border between Paraguay and Argentina. Yacyretá was to produce thousands of megawatts of energy. But it was also to flood the biologically richest area of both countries, and force the largest urban displacement by a development project in history.
In the latter half of the 1980s, the banks held up loans to Yacyretá, pending plans to address environmental and social concerns. Then, despite protests that people and endangered animals would be left homeless, the banks began preparing to restart the loans, raising questions about the policy of international lenders to leave environmental protection and resettlement to the borrowing countries.
Narration is by Edward James Olmos, who hosted a series of 13 half-hour Vanishing Homelands specials.