SANTIAGO – Numbers released this week by the National Institute for Human Rights (INDH) in Chile show that the disaster in Quintero is far from an incident. The institute identified 116 other socio-environmental issues, where contamination affects both environment and citizens. An analysis to be taken seriously, as Quintero was already registered in 2011 as conflict zone, which means the disaster could have been avoided.
Regarding to the Socio-Environmental Scheme, performed by the National Institute of Human rights (INDH), there are 116 other socio-environmental conflicts in Chile. Every year the institute performs this analysis to identify cases of environmental damage within Chilean communities, where citizens also bare the consequences of pollution, contamination and overexploitation of their environment..
From the 116 environmental issues identified, 63 received the status ´active´, which means that they represent a risk for both the environment and the citizens. Thirty cases were considered to be ´latent´, which means that they aren’t active, but still represent a potential issue, and they are not solved completely. Around twenty cases are closed.
According to La Tercera, sixty cases are due to (over)-exploitation of the area, 39 are due to pollution from emissions, and 16 are due to contamination of natural resources. The INDH qualifies the environmental conflicts as “cases that cause a public controversy, in which judicial processes and protests are involved, that also have been registered by (local) media”.
Quintero for years known as conflict zone
“We try to use this analysis as wakeup call, to see in which parts of the country the most conflicts occur,” Consuelo Contreras, director of the institute, said. She added that Quintero was registered for years as conflict zone. “In 2011, the institute came with the first observation on the communities of Puchuncaví-Quintero. We saw that human rights of a part of the community were being violated,” Contreras highlighted. The question that remains: if community of Quintero was known to be a conflict zone, where both the environment and the citizens themselves got affected by contamination, how is it possible that the tragedy that developed for the last couple of weeks, did occur?
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.