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Chile is evading scrutiny on climate justice

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask waves a Mapuche indigenous flag during a protest against Chile's government in Santiago, Chile October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

In response to the announcement by Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, to suspend the UN-sponsored 'COP25' climate summit summit in Chile, we as international civil society reaffirm our solidarity with the people of Chile who are rising against austerity and growing inequalities; we condemn the violent repression and human rights violations from the government and the military against peaceful protesters.

In the past few weeks, mass protests have taken to the streets of Chile in response to the disastrous neoliberal economic and social policies that have deepened inequalities and injustices as well as environmental conflicts across the country. Although the protests were sparked by a hike in transport fares, it is clear that the discontent of the Chilean people has much deeper roots and is very much linked to the ecological emergency and the crisis of inequality.

In response to the uprising, President Piñera has let loose a wave of violent repression, releasing the military onto the streets, installing a curfew under the now lifted state of emergency, and attacking, torturing, raping and killing non-violent protesters. This horrific repression brings back memories of 11 September 1973, when the people’s democratically elected government was violently deposed, unleashing relentless neoliberal violence on the country ever since.

The Chilean government’s decision to withdraw Santiago as the host city of COP25 is a desperate attempt to divert the attention of the international community away from the deeply intertwined social inequalities and environmental injustices impacting communities across the country, and the violent repression against the people opposing them.

The country has been experiencing a historic mega-drought for the last decade caused by the overexploitation of resources by industrial agriculture and mega-mining industries, coupled with a highly privatized water system and aggravated by an increasingly destabilized climate

The social movements of Chile won’t be silenced, and we will continue to stand in solidarity with them and their demands for social, environmental and economic justice. COP25 may leave Chile, but our attention will not. We will not allow the relocation of the COP to Spain to distract us from growing state repression. We support the demands of the Chilean peoples and their organizations and movements, including the call for a constitutional assembly and for the Piñera government to withdraw troops from the streets as well as put an end to the repression and horrendous human rights violations.

The social and political crisis unfolding in Chile cannot be isolated from the water crisis, or the broader ecological crisis. COP25 offered the opportunity to shine a critical light on the climate injustices affecting communities in Chile, where resource-extractivist policies have created huge sacrifice zones. The country has been experiencing a historic mega-drought for the last decade caused by the overexploitation of resources by industrial agriculture and mega-mining industries, coupled with a highly privatized water system and aggravated by an increasingly destabilized climate.

The demands of the people and the movements of Chile are intrinsically linked to the demands for climate justice, as there can be no climate justice without social and economic justice. The rebellion by diverse sectors of society against the neoliberal model in Chile is indicative of its responsibility in producing inequality, deepening climate injustice and undermining the public good.

Neoliberal overexploitation of natural and mineral resources in Chile has had a particularly harsh impact on the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, peasants and workers, with large-scale violations of their human rights, their land and other rights. Indigenous groups have been disproportionately targeted, through draconian terrorism laws, for defending their communities, lands and water.

We stand in solidarity with frontline communities in Chile and everywhere. We reaffirm that climate justice means social, economic and ecological justice. We condemn the violent repression of environmental defenders, the human rights and indigenous rights’ violations, and the increased crackdown on people and movements everywhere.

The decision of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Spanish government to let Chile retain the COP25 presidency while relocating the event to Madrid with just a month’s notice, carries catastrophic consequences for civil society movements across the world. This is yet one more example of the purposeful isolation of democratic, grass-roots movements from the world’s most important decision-making spaces.

In such a eurocentric context, which favours participants who have the capacity and resources to attend, we reaffirm that there can be no meaningful climate negotiations without meaningful participation from the Global South and global justice movements. We call for a shift from this current context to the facilitation of meaningful participation for Global South actors, for the centring of frontline and impacted communities’ voices, of movements demanding social, economic and environmental justice, and for the COP to put the needs and interests of people above capital.

Specifically, we call on the UNFCCC and Spanish government to assist those organizations from the Global South who have suffered significant financial losses from the venue change and now face the daunting task of applying for Schengen visas and rebooking travel and accommodation.

We further call on the UNFCCC and especially the Spanish government to block the Chilean government as chair of the COP25.

The Cumbre de los Pueblos and the Cumbre Social por la Acción Climática will go ahead in Santiago, and we stand in solidarity with groups facilitating these crucial spaces despite attempts from the regime to shut down Chilean movements and undermine international solidarity. Some of us will travel to Santiago, some of us will travel to Madrid, and many of us will not travel at all. Wherever we are, we will continue to demand climate justice and organize for system change.

Climate justice seeks to create ‘a world where many worlds fit’, a movement where many movements fit. In the face of increasing repression and crackdown on movements, which is designed to divide us, we are more united than ever in the struggle for justice.

Organizations can sign the statement by completing this form. French and Spanish versions are available to read here.

Initial signatories: Aclimatando, ActionAid International, Amazon Watch, Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Foundation, Asia Indigenous Peoples Network for Extractive Industries and Energy, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development, Association Adéquations, Colectivo de Geografía Crítica del Ecuador, Colectivo VientoSur, Cooperación entre Pueblos Americanos, Corporate Accountability, Corporate Europe Observatory, Earth in Brackets, Eco Justice Valandovo, Ecologistas en Acción, Engajamundo, Environmental and Climate Justice Hub, Friends of the Earth International, Gastivists, Gender and Water Justice, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice, Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project, Green New Deal UK, Human Hotel, Indian Social Action Forum, Indigenous Environmental Network International, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy International, Italian Climate Network, Kikandwa Environmental Association, London Mining Network, Movimiento Ciudadano frente al Cambio Climático, Oil Change International, Organización socio ambiental Guardianes de Hierro, People & Planet, Plataforma Boliviana frente al Cambio Climático, Reclaim the Power, SustainUS, UK Youth Climate Coalition, War on Want, Women Engage for a Common Future International, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, WoMin African Alliance, Wretched of the Earth, Young Friends of the Earth Macedonia, 350.org




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