VALPARAÍSO – President Piñera has declared 36 of the 38 communes of Valparaíso region disaster zones. This year, the region has suffered greatly from a drought that has severely affected the lives of crops and livestock. The environmental crisis remains at the forefront of both national and international concern.
Prolonged drought in Valparaíso region has led the president to decree the continental communes of the region as “disaster zones” for 12 months.
In a statement, Valparaíso municipality said “from this decree, the regional governor of Valparaíso, Jorge Martínez, is appointed as the authority responsible for the coordination and execution of the recovery programs that the government determines for the affected areas.”
The decree awards Martínez access to Ministry of the Interior resources like emergency funds and aid from other regions such as access to drinking water.
According to member of the Agriculture Authority, Humberto Lepe, “this whole situation has affected 50,000ha of rainfed agriculture, since it clearly depends on the rains, which were very scarce this winter. In the region 108,000 livestock are being affected, among them cattle, horses, goats and sheep and 99,000 bee hives.”
On August 8, the Ministry of Agriculture decreed Valparaíso region as an agricultural “emergency zone.” This decree now extends until December 31 and will run alongside the government’s catastrophe decree.
Drought Throughout the Nation
According to information from the Navy’s Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service, winter 2019 was one of the driest in the last 70 years.
From July 21 to September 21, only 70mm of rain fell when the average amount is 255mm — a deficit of nearly 73%.
Rainfall in Santiago during this period was also very low. The normal amount is about 198mm, but it is estimated that only about 59mm fell during those two months. In addition, the amount of rainfall is not expected to increase this spring. Instead, frost will likely hit, further increasing problems for farmers.
And another water scarcity issue looms: a lack of snow in the mountain ranges will cause more problems, as the melting snow supplies underground aquifers.
Last week, the Friday for Future march took place in Santiago. Chile was one of 160 countries around the world that participated in protests last week to demand that governments take a more serious approach to climate change and global warming.
One of the main points of the protest was for the Chilean government to sign the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, also known as the “Escazú Agreement,” which ensures the protection of the environment in Latin America and the Caribbean by inviting the participation of the public.
So far the agreement has been signed by Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, and Uruguay.
Today, climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke passionately at a UN meeting to implore world leaders to start acting seriously on the international environmental crisis, accusing them of failing younger generations.
The Swedish teenager told the world leaders: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”
WATCH: "How dare you? You have stolen my childhood and my dreams with your empty words," climate activist Greta Thunberg told world leaders at a United Nations climate summit.
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 23, 2019