Tag Archives: chile

Chile: Was Valparaíso fire a “natural disaster”?

April 20, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

The central Chilean port city of Valparaíso remained under military control as of Apr. 15, three days after forest fires began sweeping into some of the city’s working-class neighborhoods, leaving at least 15 people dead and destroying 2,900 homes. Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said the government hoped to have the fires under control by Apr. 16, but the national forestry agency indicated that it might take the 5,000 firefighters and other personnel in the city as long as 20 days to extinguish the fires completely. Some 12,500 people are now without homes in Valparaíso; this disaster follows an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in northern Chile that killed five people on Apr. 1 and made 2,635 homes uninhabitable.

Declared a World Heritage City in 2004 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Valparaíso is located in an area prone to forest fires. But experts and reporters said the extent of the devastation resulted less from natural conditions than from political failures. Witnesses reported that the firefighters–all unpaid volunteers, according to Chilean historian Sergio Grez–were slow to arrive when the fires started on the afternoon of Apr. 12, and they were equipped only with shovels and one truck. Driven by strong winds, the fires spread quickly through the close-packed wooden structures in the poorer neighborhoods, made vulnerable by decades of unplanned growth. Roads were often too narrow for fire engines, and there was no running water for fire hoses in the affected areas. Helicopters came with water hours later.

“We have been the builders and architects of our own dangers,” Valparaíso mayor Jorge Castro admitted on Apr. 13. Chilean president Michelle Bachelet told the national daily El Diario de Cooperativa on Apr. 15 that her government would try “to rebuild in a more orderly manner.” “It’s not enough to reinstall houses or support families,” she said. “We have to do something more substantive.” (El Mostrador (Chile) 4/14/14Les InRocks (France) 4/14/14US News & World Report 4/15/14 from AP)

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Chile: Water activist to be jailed for ‘slander’

April 13, 2014. Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Apr. 7 a court in La Ligua, in Chile’s Petorca province, Valparaíso region, convicted agronomist Rodrigo Mundaca of slander and sentenced him to 541 days in prison for accusing former government minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma of water usurpation. Mundaca, the secretary of the Movement in Defense of Water, Land and the Environment (Modatima), also faces a fine. According to current Modatima spokesperson Luis Soto, the court’s decision won’t stop the group’s activist work. He said Modatima would take the case “to the Valparaíso Appeals Court, and if we aren’t successful there, we’ll go to the Supreme Court.”

Pérez Yoma is a Christian Democratic Party (PDC) politician who served twice as defense minister under former president Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1994-2000) and then as interior minister in the first term (2006-2010) of current president Michelle Bachelet. He owns 90% of an agricultural firm, Sociedad Agrícola El Cóndor Ltda. Modatima says the company has taken water illegally from the Los Ángeles estuary for its crops, depriving local farmers and small businesses of the resource, which is scarce in much of Chile. The group has made the same accusation against Agrícola San Ignacio, owned by Ignacio Alamos, and Agrícola Iguana, owned by Marcelo Trivelli. Apparently Pérez Yoma sued for slander after Mondaca aired the charges on CNN Chile during a 2012 interview. (El Ciudadano (Chile) 4/5/14Radio Universidad de Chile 4/8/14Modatima communiqué 4/9/14)

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Chile: Tree plantation companies and indigenous rights, a longstanding conflict

By José Aylwin, Nancy Yáñez, Rubén Sánchez (excerpt).  Source: World Rainforest Movement

Source: WRM

Source: WRM

Historically, relations between Mapuche indigenous communities and the forestry industry have been marked by conflict, primarily because of the expansion of industrial tree plantations on lands that are part of the Mapuche territory and the impact of these plantations on the communities’ habitat.

There are three business groups that control most of the forestry industry in Chile: Forestal Arauco, Compañía Manufacturera de Papeles y Cartones (CMPC) and MASISA. According to figures from 2007, these three companies owned a total of 1,715,910 hectares of tree plantations in Chile, mainly in the regions of Biobío, La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos. In these same regions, tree plantations in the traditional Mapuche territory account for an area three times greater than the indigenous lands recognised by the state.

Most of the tree plantations have been established on traditional Mapuche lands. The communities affected by this industry are claiming their right to tenure over the lands occupied by the plantations, which were usurped from them both during the colonial era and following the military coup of 1973. Continue reading

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Chile’s HidroAysén mega-dam project stalled again

By Emily Jovais, February 3, 2014. Source: International Rivers

Photo: Patagonia sin Represas

Photo: Patagonia Sin Represas

On January 30, after two years of waiting, the Comité de Ministros (Committee of Ministers) dealt a substantial setback to the project. The Committee announced its highly-anticipated decision to NOT rule on appeals to HidroAysén’s environmental approval. Instead, the Committee requested additional studies to evaluate the impacts of the dams.

The Committee of Ministers – the highest administrative authority in Chile – reviewed 34 appeals related to the 2,750-megawatt energy project and identified two areas where more investigation is needed – the hydrological impacts on the two rivers on which the five dams would be built, and the impacts the migration of 5,000 construction workers to the region will have on Aysén. These studies will determine daily water flow if the dams become operational and will include an assessment of the project’s potential impact on surrounding glaciers.

“This delay is a strong sign that HidroAysén will not be a part of Chile’s energy future,” said Amanda Maxwell, our colleague in the Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia (CDP) from the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Latin America-Caribbean, Water

Chile: Indian Leader Found in Reservoir She Worked to Stop

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 25, 2013

chile_tree_webA Mapuche Indian leader who became the face of Chile’s environmental movement was found floating in a reservoir she spent a decade trying to prevent from being created, and the authorities said Wednesday that they were awaiting autopsy results although the death appeared accidental. The leader, Nicolesa Quintreman, 73, who was nearly blind, was found Tuesday, a day after she was reported missing. With her sister Berta, Ms. Quintreman became a national figure in Chile during protests against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on tribal land in the forested mountains of southern Chile.

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Trans-Latin business and land grabbing in Latin America

By Sally Burch, December 16, 2013. Source: ALAI

eucapLand-grabbing involving huge amounts of land, a phenomenon that arose principally in the last decade and which has been accentuated since the food crisis of 2008, is radically transforming agrarian structures in the world, displacing campesinos (peasant farmers) and increasing the hold of agroindustry.  In Africa and Asia, this phenomenon mainly results from agreements between States, where a government agrees to the buying or renting of huge extensions of land – one hundred, two hundred thousand hectares or more – in another country, in order to produce food under their control and to export it, and thus guarantee the food security of their populations.Nevertheless, the process has taken on a distinct characteristic in Latin America, as Cristobal Kay, a specialist in development and agrarian reform, explains.  In our Continent, it is not other States but mainly big trans-Latin corporations that are investing in neighbouring countries.  In an interview with ALAI, Kay noted that, as this process increases, it becomes much more complex to envisage agrarian reform in the countries affected.

An academic specialized in development theory, who studied first in Chile and in England and is now a professor at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, Cristobal Kay recalls that in Latin America, this phenomenon has its roots in the “lost decade” of the 1980s, with neoliberal policies.  When States abandoned policies of credit and technical assistance to campesinos and lowered customs barriers to the importation of foods, peasant economy became marginalized and many campesinos had to seek other sources of income, when not to emigrate.  On the other hand, the rural sectors that benefited were those capitalist agricultural producers that had access to investment and the necessary knowledge to move into new export markets, with new products such as broccoli and other vegetables, fruit and African palm oil.
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Chile: Police special forces evict Mapuche community from contested lands

Note: Chile’s President was interviewed on the news yesterday about how strong Chile’s democracy is since the demise of the Pinochet regime.  I guess if you are a rich Chilean this might be true, but certainly not if you are an Indigenous person…  Ironically, much of the Mapuche land was stolen under the Pinochet regime.  I guess the idea of democracy doesn’t include to returning  stolen lands.

Hmm… sounds familiar…

–The GJEP Team

By , Oct 21, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

“Welcome to the Temucuicui Autonomous Community” Photo by Donmatas1 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In the early morning of Wednesday, October 9, riot police and members of the Group of Special Operations (GOPE in Spanish), an elite, special unit of the Chilean Police, raided theTemucuicui Autonomous Community [es], an indigenous Mapuche community located near the town of Ercilla in theAraucania Region of Southern Chile.

A self-denominated “autonomous” community, Temucuicui has occupied what they consider to be ancestral lands for over two years. They have resisted several eviction attempts, and their resistance has landed many community leaders and members in jail.

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Chile indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with protests

13 October, 2013. Source: Al Jazeera

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP

Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Demonstrators in Santiago threw rocks and other objects at police who responded with water cannons. At least 10 protesters were detained by police, local media reported.

More than 15,000 people participated in the march, organized by the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, who have been in a long struggle with the government over ancestral land taken from them during colonization.

While Columbus Day celebrations took place across Latin America, the Mapuche affirmed, “we have nothing to celebrate”, according to the Santiago Times. Continue reading

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Earth Minute: Chilean coup 40 years ago and the impact on the Mapuche People

Note: GJEP has worked with the Mapuche in Chile to stop genetically engineered trees.

GJEP teams up weekly with Margaret Prescod and the Sojourner Truth show for an Earth Minute and a 12-minute EarthWatch interview every Thursday covering front line environmental news from across the globe.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Earth Minute, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Independent Media, Indigenous Peoples, KPFK, Land Grabs, Posts from Anne Petermann

Clashes in Chile on 40th anniversary of 1973 military coup

Note: It is important to recall that bloody coup was backed and orchestrated by the US as an experiment in Milton Friedman’s neoliberalism.   And as Naomi Klein points out the outcomes were disastrous to Chileans, “The Chile of the 1960s had the best health and education systems on the continent, as well as a vibrant industrial sector and rapidly expanding middle class. Chileans believed in their state, which is why they elected Allende to take the project even further.

“After the coup and the death of Allende, Pinochet and his Chicago Boys did their best to dismantle Chile’s public sphere, auctioning off state enterprises and slashing financial and trade regulations. Enormous wealth was created in this period but at a terrible cost: by the early eighties, Pinochet’s Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid de-industrialization, a ten-fold increase in unemployment and an explosion of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key Chicago Boy advisors and nationalize several of the large deregulated financial institutions.”

11 September, 2013.  Source: BBC

A masked man throws a Molotov cocktail at a protest on 8 September 2013Some of the protests to commemorate the coup turned violent

Protesters and police have clashed in Chile ahead of the anniversary of the coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet.

Police said they had arrested dozens of people for erecting barricades and throwing stones and petrol bombs.

A bus was set alight in the capital, Santiago, where 8,000 officers have been deployed to prevent any violence.

The 1973 coup deposed the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, and led to 17 years of military rule.

Past anniversaries have regularly been marked by demonstrations, some of which turned violent.

Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said on Wednesday that “up to this moment the reports have been very positive compared to what we were expecting”.

He said that “major troublemakers were trying to take advantage of the occasion”, but assured Santiago residents that the city was functioning normally.

Protesters have erected burning barricades in two Santiago neighbourhoods, police reported.

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