Protests in Santiago, Chile

During the last weeks, extensive popular protests have been raging all over Chile. Similarly to several other countries in Latin America and the global South, the uprising was ignited by the shameless corruption of the political class and a context of extreme social inequality and permanent abuse. The privatization of the most basic social services and common goods, such as education, health, water, air and forests, is just an example of the aggressive neo-liberal policies that shaped such context.

The reaction of the Chilean authorities has been particularly brutal and disrespectful of the Human Rights. The government of president Pinera declared the State of Emergency, attempted to repress the protests through a violent militarization of the public space and imposed a curfew in the city of Santiago. Reportedly, 20 protesters were killed and more than 2000 were injured by the military forces.

Chile is nowadays in the spotlight of the international community because it has the responsibility of hosting the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP25, at the beginning of December.

SCAC demonstration in Chile
SCAC demonstrating in Chile

Karibu partner FiscalĂ­a del Medio Ambiente (FIMA), together with more than a hundred organizations members of the Latin American network Civil Society for Climate Action (SCAC), is arranging a parallel conference to COP25, to ensure the representation of grassroots civil society and promote its contribution in such an important international debate on climate change.

Concerned by the current lack of minimum democratic guarantees and the status of militarization and repression in the country, SCAC produced a statement to denounce this situation and call the international community to pressure the Chilean government to re-establish the rule of law and initiate an inclusive dialogue with the civil society. International events like COP25 cannot take place in countries where Human Rights and constitutional democratic rights are openly violated.

The full statement from SCAC can be accessed below:

DECLARATION OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY FOR CLIMATE ACTION ON THE COP 25 AND THE STATE OF MILITARISATION OF CHILE

A week after the beginning of the Constitutional State of Emergency and the militarisation of Chile, we emphasise that this crisis is grounded in a basal injustice, which has created a permanent limitation of the rights of citizens.

A clear example of this injustice is the existence of “sacrifice zones”, where entire communities have been condemned to live under high levels of pollution and a permanent violation of their constitutional right to life. It is also an abuse to make citizens invisible, placing barriers to their participation in public decision-making processes, access to environmental justice and information, denying fundamental rights such as the human right to water, and commodifying nature as an object of extractivism.

The world is looking at Chile as the epicentre of the current socio-environmental crisis and the upcoming climate debate at COP 25. It is not viable to discuss the future of the planet, climate justice and the commitments of each state through its NDCs in a country like Chile that has broken the rule of law.  Moreover, considering that in Chile the military has been sent to contain the expressions of social unrest, generating panic, assassinations and tortures.

The organised civil society has prepared itself intensely to participate in the debates of COP 25 through the Social Summit for Climate Action, and other instances, as the Peoples’ Summit and the Social Forum Cop 25. However, we are convinced that the COP cannot take place in the context of a Constitutional State of Emergency, with a military presence on the streets.

Chile must re-establish the rule of law as soon as possible and initiate an inclusive dialogue for national unity. This dialogue must be achieved through a new social pact that includes, at least, a constituent assembly for a new constitution, in which respect for a sound civil society and protection of the environment are crucial to well-being and national development.

Therefore, as the Civil Society for Climate Action, we call on the national and international community to pressure the Chilean Government for holding the COP 25 in a Chile where democracy and constitutional rights are respected. The latter requires, on the one hand, the removal of the military from the streets and, on the other hand, pursuing full justice against human rights violations committed during these days.