Chile: Another intimidating action by the salmon Industry against human rights defenders, the environment and Mapuche communities

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Salmon industry workers mobilized by local businessmen with banners pointing out «Danish Institute of Human Rights Out, Chile is not for sale», or “NGOS are not welcome»m and “NGOS = lies and business”. Quellón, Chiloé Island, August, 19, 2022

Chiloe, South Chile, August 22, 2022. ( Socio-environmental organizations and coastal communities rejected the intimidation actions implemented by the salmon industry against human rights defenders, events that occurred during the seminar «Territorial dialogue: Impacts of the salmon industry on indigenous and coastal communities»), held a few days ago (08.17.2022), in the salmon industrial port of Quellón, Chiloé.

During the presentation of this report on the violation of labor rights and standards, threats to the rights of native peoples, and health and environmental impacts of the salmonid farming and export mega-industry, representatives of the SalmonChile A.G., together with union leaders, aggressively broke in to interrupt the development of the event, where the Danish Institute for Human Rights presented the «Report on the Sectorial Impact Assessment on Human Rights of the Salmon Industry».

Human Rights: Escazu Treaty is beaten by Chilean Salmon Industry

This new act of intimidation promoted by the Chilean salmon industry tries to criminalize the socio-environmental movement, the human rights defenders, and the Mapuche communities that resist the destructive productive and geographical expansion of this transnational export -industry.

Last July, the director of Salmones Camanchaca, Tore Valderhaug, stated at a salmon seminar held in Norway that government regulations and inspections in the sanitary and environmental spheres would be creating a «threatening circle» for the business community, and identified the organizations environmentalists as «the greatest threat» to the salmon export industry in Chile.

Later, during the “Aquaforum Patagonia” business meeting (June 23, 2022, Punta Arenas), the salmon industry, again using its pro-company union leaders, accused the socio-environmental organizations to «block the productive development of the country by manipulating Law 20,249 on Marine Coastal Spaces for Original Peoples», known as the Lafkenche Law.

Intimidation of communities and weakening of the Lafkenche Law

The NGO «Observatorio Ciudadano» described what happened in Quellon when they presented the Human Rights and Salmon Industry report: «Shortly after the workshop began at the House of Culture facilitated by the Municipality of Quellon, it was taken over by around fifty of workers of those companies, as well as by representatives of some companies in the sector, including the SalmonChile union, who were taken in transport services of the same companies, and with banners questioned the report, as well as the entities that prepared it, obstructing the workshop that was developed with respect and dialogue».

Faced with this, Elías Colivoro, Werken (spokesperson) of the Cocauque community and part of the Indigenous Territorial Council of the Commune of Quellon, Chiloé Island, told that «it is extremely important that international organizations investigate and disseminate information regarding the impacts of the salmon industry in our territories, an issue that the State has not done.

Regarding the actions of the SalmonChile employers, the Werken Colivoro, who participated in the meeting in Quellon, pointed out that «it is alarming that the salmon industry is using some union leaders to point out that the Lafkenche Law is a problem for the industry and that will destroy the labor sources». «That’s a lie,» said the representative of the indigenous communities.

Meanwhile, Clara Chiguay Mapuche Lonko from the Williche- Mapuche community of Queilen, pointed out that there were many cartels from the salmon industry against the Lafkenche Law in the activity. Faced with this, the Mapuche- Williche leader pointed out that “they repudiate this action by the salmon industry, especially SalmonChile A.G., which was the one that was there, and there was a representative of SalmonChile. They are affected because they want to expand as a salmon industry and that is their interest”.

For Observatorio Ciudadano, what happened in Quellon «shows an intention of intimidation and constitutes a clear hindrance to our work as human rights defenders, whose protection against acts such as these is addressed in the recently ratified Escazu Treaty, an issue that in the short term, we will inform the national authorities and international bodies».

Ecoceanos Centre: The transnational mega salmon industry is one of the main threats to the democratization of Chilean society

Faced with this new fact, Juan Carlos Cardenas, veterinarian and director of the Ecoceanos Centre, indicated that «the actions in Quellon confirm what was denounced by the Ecoceanos Centre and 67 citizen organizations and indigenous communities, since these intimidating acts are not isolated situations, but which corresponds to the implementation of a corporate agenda of the salmon business that is underway after the signing of the Escazu Treaty”

Cardenas called on international human rights organizations – from Denmark and Sweden -, the socio-environmental movement, and international consumer organizations from the United States, the main destination market for Chilean salmon production, to be alert to the actions of the mega salmon industry, which is becoming one of the main threats to the democratization of Chilean society”

For its part, “Defendamos Chiloe” Group indicated on its Facebook site that “The salmon farms send their workers to protest at a meeting of a Foundation that collaborates in the defense of the marine ecosystem and the human right to live in a healthy environment (…) the problem It was started by the State of Chile in collusion with big capital, to create an industry without any study of its cultural or environmental impacts. The problem has to be solved by whoever created it: The State of Chile. We call on the government, which claims to be an ”ecological government”, to resolve the impacts of forty years of environmental and cultural damage, respecting the families that work there.”.-