International seminar on the implications of extractivism in Chile and Latin America

OLCAChile 17.11.2014

Land degradation, water deprivation, poverty…

The current development model implemented by the major drivers of environmental damage in the region, was examined at an international seminar on the implications of extractivism in Chile and Latin America held at Santiago on August 21-22, 2014.
The event was attended by over 70 representatives of community and social organizations and speakers from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Uruguay. The meeting was organized by Drynet partner OLCA (Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts), with the collaboration of OCMAL (Latin American Observatory of Mining Conflicts)

Entitled “Extractivism in Latin America … Water that you shall not drink”, the meeting included lectures, panels and discussion groups, plus a forum on the same subject matter, open to the general public. Interventions were also broadcasted via the Internet, with the help of community radios.

The presentations included the review of some examples of the main types of extractive mega-projects imposed in the countries of the region. These projects are characterized by consuming large amounts of water, occupy and damage vast territories, pollute the air, soil and water with highly toxic elements. For communities where these mega-projects are installed, the consequences are disastrous: land degradation, water deprivation, lost of their livelihoods, poverty, disease, migration, destruction of the social fabric, among other serious problems.

The debate started with the lecture “The territory trodden by extractivism: Elements of context from global to local”, by Eduardo Gudynas, from the Latin American Center for Social Studies (CLAES) of Uruguay.

Then, in a panel discussion on “Water and Extractivism”, the following presentations were made: “Water governance and attempts to dam the social awakening” by Mirta Antonelli, Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (Argentina); “Water, women and mining,” by Gloria Chicaiza, Ecological Action (Ecuador), and “Water, the Achilles’ heel of mega-mining,” Lucio Cuenca, OLCA (Chile).

In a panel forum that took place on the second day, the following topics were presented: “The importance of community articulation: Network of People Affected by Vale”, by Danilo Chamas, from Justiça nos Trilhos (Brazil); “Energy-mining locomotive: water to the service of mining”, by Danilo Urrea, from Censat Agua Viva (Colombia); “The Conga mine case: A commitment to life”, by Marco Arana, from Grufides (Peru); and “Extractivism and the defense of common goods: Glaciers and periglacial environments from Huasco Valley”, by Carolina Perez and Ruben Cruz, from Guasco Alto Assembly (Chile).

In the open forum, the implications of the extractivism in the region were discussed after the respective presentations made by Lucio Cuenca, OLCA (Chile); José de Echave, Former Deputy Minister of Environmental Management of Peru and Director of Cooperacción (Peru); Dora Lucy Arias, Lawyers Collective José Alvear Restrepo, CAJAR (Colombia), and Eduardo Gudynas, CLAES (Uruguay).

The discussion groups centered their activities on the themes “The emergency of extractivism” and “Alternatives to exit from extractivism”, linked to areas such as culture and knowledge, education, health and quality of life. Participants discussed and developed recommendations about ways to cope with the major threats from extractivist projects.

Suggestions were focused primarily on actions from community and social organizations regarding potential stakeholders in environmental conflicts, such as legal advisors, scientists and experts, appointed and elected officials, indigenous peoples, workers, media, political parties and neighboring communities.

OLCA – Drynet

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