Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mapuche lands serve as garbage dump for Chilean Nation - United Nations investigates Environmental Discrimination

The Mapuche communities in Chile have called to the UN to inquire on Chile’s concentration of garbage dump near Mapuche houses, showing environmental discrimination on the indigenous communities.

The United Nations has given Chilean authorities no later than the end of November [2007] to answer allegations of “environmental racism” filed earlier this year by a host of Region IX-based environmental and Mapuche organizations.

In a letter dated Aug. 24 [2007], Juan Antonio Martabit Scaff of the United Nation’s permanent mission in Geneva, Switzerland called on the Chilean government to provide detailed information about numerous garbage dumps and sewage treatment facilities Mapuche groups claim are disproportionately concentrated near their communities. The organizations, which filed their complaint this past January, say the waste facilities also fail to meet minimum health and environmental standards.

“Please provide information about the measures taken to guarantee the dumps currently operating in the Araucanía Region meet the requirements established under both current environmental laws and the Indigenous Law 19.254, which among other things stipulates the right of communities who are directly affected by such projects to be consulted,” the letter reads.

The United Nations, which is giving the Chilean government until Nov. 30 [2007] to provide the information, also asked the state to provide scientific analysis of the various dumps and water treatment facilities in question. The letter also noted that Chile has failed to submit the last four reports it is supposed to file with the U.N. Human Rights Committee on a biennial basis. The international body is now demanding that Chile submit a single compilation report no later than June 30, 2008.

Roughly 20 percent of the land in Chile’s Region IX belongs to Mapuches, which make up approximately 26 percent of the area’s total population. Nevertheless, close to 70 percent of the area’s garbage dumps and all 10 of its sewage treatments plants are located on or near those lands. Together, the waste facilities affect directly affect more than 3,000 people living in 50 Mapuche communities, according to the Environmental Rights Action Network (RADA), the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts, the Koyam Newen group and other organizations behind the allegations.

Here is the full article.