QUINTERO – Alejandro Castro, one of the leaders behind the protests against the contamination of Quintero and Puchuncaví, has been found dead yesterday. Following official statements, Castro was said to have drowned. The police in Chile has confirmed that Castro was receiving death threats for his leading role in the protests in the area.
The 30-year-old Castro was as leader of the union of fishermen in Quintero involved in organizing protests, after toxic spreads have been intoxicating hundreds of people in the area, also damaging local industry. The responsible companies behind the ongoing contaminations haven´t been found to this very day, although different independent investigations have proven that big petrochemicals such as Oxiquim and Enap have been using prohibited chemicals over the last few years.
The Investigation Police Department (PDI) released in earlier statements that there are no indications that Castro has been a victim of a crime, and that he took his own life – explanations that have not satisfied the people of Quintero. The death of the social leader came as a big shock for the community, who showed up in great numbers to say goodbye to Alejandro Castro.
Later, Héctor Espinosa of the PDI did confirm though that Alejandro Castro had been threatened for his leading role in organizing protests. “I do not rule out anything,” said Espinosa, adding that “we are investigating people.”
Among the people of Quintero, there is considerable doubt regarding the real cause of the death of the trade unionist. “His death is camouflaged by officials, we are doubting the official statements given, it adds to other cases of deaths of environmental leaders in conflict in recent years”, protesters say.
Chile just left the Escazú treaty, meant to protect environmental activists
Just fifteen days ago, the Chilean government surprised the whole continent by withdrawing from the Escazú treaty. This treaty was to be signed, together with 24 other Latin-American countries, in order to give citizens a more decisive role when it comes to projects that could have an environmental impact. The treaty also obliges governments to protect environmental activists. Without giving any reason, and despite the fact that the Bachelet administration was a driving force behind the treaty, Chile withdrew, illustrating the direction the Piñera government is heading.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.