Open letter from the communities of the Huasco Valley to the President of Chile, His Excellency RicaPublished by MAC on 2004-11-28
Open letter from the communities of the Huasco Valley to the President of Chile, His Excellency Ricardo Lagos Escobar, to the members of the Congress and to the regional and national authorities
We are the inhabitants of the Huasco Valley, Third Region of Chile, from different political, religious, cultural and ethnical origins, who have been affected by the mining activities in the high Andes Mountains.
We consider that the risks involved in these mining activities threaten the economical, social, cultural and environmental sustainability of the valley, to the quality of life of its inhabitants and to their traditional activities.
The threats to the ecosystem, to the life and the plans of the present and future communities of the valley, lead us to reject with determination any mining activity that has been proven to be non compatible with agriculture, the health of the people, the water quality and the conservation of the ecosystems in the middle and the long term.
We live in an agricultural valley that has proved to be viable, economically profitable and with a promising future for the population. We will defend this sustainability against the aggressive activities that threaten the valley and its people.
Mr. President, we state once again, after you made a commitment with us, that the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we cultivate have more value than the gold coveted by the multinationals Barrick Gold, Noranda and the others that will come behind them, in he hope of increasing their wealth in this Chilean mining paradise.
We will never rest until the safety of the valley and its people is ensured and we will fight for it. The people chose you to protect the interests of all the inhabitants of Chile, not for the benefit of the multinational mining companies. Mr. President, our interest is to protect the valley, please respect it, promote it, and safeguard it.
Do not forget that the state has invested in irrigation projects (Santa Juana dam, for which, by the way, we farmers have to pay), in training programs and in technology for the agricultural sector (INDAP [the National Agricultural Development Institute], INIA [the National Agricultural Research Institute], and the Irrigation Act). All this has brought prosperity, jobs and hope to the people. We pay our taxes and we contribute to the growth of the country. Do not destroy what has been done so far and please take steps to foster our development.
Mining at the headwaters of the river basins will pollute our water and will destroy our invaluable glaciers, while the mining agreement with Argentina tries to tie our hands. We will no longer be able to export our products, and trade agreements will be of no use for us.
Chile is trying to elevate its name in the international community but the destruction of our valley will do the opposite. We and all our future generations need you, Mr. President, as well as all the elected officials, to assume your mandates with ethics and responsibility.
We will remain alert and ready for action, exercising our rights to democracy and participation. We will not allow our lives and our valley to suffer the consequences of bad political practices and the abuse of mining companies willing to increase their profits at any price, even at the expense of our ecosystems and our people.
Signed: Comunidades del Valle del Huasco Asociaciones de Agricultores Comunidades Cristianas de Base Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales Asociaciones de Regantes
Alto del Carmen, November 28, 2004