Chile: no possibility of dialogue with the government while human rights violations continue

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MAT members on a march. Credit: MAT

In response to the announcement by Sebastián Piñera to suspend the COP25 and APEC meetings in Chile, War on Want partner organisation the Movement for Water and Territories – Central Zone (MATZC) declares:

Piñera didn’t cancel anything, it was thousands of people mobilised in multiple ways who forced him to cancel.

The decision taken by the government to suspend the APEC and COP25 meetings can only be understood as the government’s inability to address the profound and radical demands put forward by different sectors and communities up and down the country, for more than 10 days.

Social, environmental and community organisations saw COP25 as an opportunity to place urgent issues of climate injustice in the public debate, and to lay bare the inconsistencies that have characterised consecutive Chilean governments over the last 30 years. These governments have promoted extremely devastating economic and extractivist policies resulting in an alarming water crisis, and serious ecological conflicts for communities and territories.

The announcement that COP25 would take place in Chile led us to propose a People’s Summit, an alternative space that would allow us to denounce the genocidal consequences of the extractivist development policy established in Chile during the dictatorship and perpetuated by post-dictatorial governments.

We will continue to denounce the false solutions imposed by the neoliberal paradise and its so-called "Green Economy", an agenda that only seeks to postpone the urgency of environmental justice.

In the same vein, it is urgent that the environmental demands of communities and territories are fully integrated into the social and political agenda. Given the cancellation of this international event, the government must address the inequalities caused by the extractivist model and all the resulting environmental injustices. We are critical of green capitalism, but we also demand and implore government authorities to address the urgent environmental issues which are absent from the government’s agenda today.

With this decision, we know that Mr Piñera and his government are attempting to divert international attention away from the fact that people in Chile are mobilising for their social and environmental rights - he won't risk any scrutiny from the international community. He opportunistically cancelled the meeting, anticipating the diplomatic disaster to come as various governments began to desist from attending these international meetings. 

For this reason, we reaffirm that there is no possibility of dialogue with the government while the human rights violations continue. The government needs to recognise the very serious and systematic human rights violations that are happening right now. There are numerous activists and members from our movement who are being harassed and repressed through extreme violence from State agents. The aggression against the observers of the National Human Rights Institute (NHRI) only makes this phenomenon more pronounced, and represents a clear plan, ordered by the highest authorities. There are multiple forms of violence being carried out against citizens: sexual political violence, torture, mutilations, and continued assassinations. The Wallmapu (Mapuche word for territory) remains militarised. There can be no impunity – the government bears sole political responsibility for the violence and the widespread claims against state-sanctioned violence.

The only way to consider sitting down with the government to negotiate will be once a representative program has been agreed – one which accepts the call to implement a constituent assembly.

Attempting to open dialogue with some political or social leaders without these minimum conditions will only generate repudiation by organisations and mobilised citizens. There are no conditions to promote any type of dialogue at the moment, as this would represent an attempt to derail the protests, making invisible the very serious violations of human rights, and resulting in government impunity.