DOMINGA, PIÑERA ENEMY OF CHILE


Outside Dominga killer project 

 

The Environmental Court of Antofagasta could reverse the decision of the Committee of Ministers that rejected the mining and port of Dominga in August last year. Despite the detractors assure that the ecosystem of those coasts of the Fourth Region has not changed and should be protected by rejecting the project, the fears have to do with the new Government: the ties of Piñera and some of his ministers with the mining company and his statements that have always encouraged the existence of Dominga.

The words of the next Minister of Economy, José Ramón Valente, alerted the community of La Higuera. "Hopefully we will find the way for Dominga to comply with all the necessary environmental requirements and be able to develop it," he said in an interview with La Tercera, and the inhabitants of that commune, north of Coquimbo, understood the message.

-It is obvious that there is an intention to go ahead with the project as it is - says a leader of the commune.

A few days after Valente, the next Minister of Social Development, Alfredo Moreno, also referred to the Minera Dominga. Although he indicated that he must abide by the rules, he also appealed to the succulent numbers he would bring: "Nobody can argue that a project that is billions of investments and positively affects the economic development of a very poor region, is a interesting project. The point is that it can be very interesting, but it has to comply with all the rules in such a way that it is something positive, "he said.

Dominga is an integrated mine and port project and contemplates the annual production of 12 million tons of iron concentrate and 150 thousand tons of copper concentrate, as a by-product. Despite the investment of its defenders, the residents of La Higuera appeal to the ecosystem, the sources of work that will strike and those who live mainly on fish products.

Josué Ramos, fisherman of that commune, looks with distrust at this counter-offensive: "This project has already been seen on several occasions, where economic power overcomes the political and only big investors win."

 

Sea pollution

 

The questioned conciliation

 

Alfredo Moreno did not refrain from talking about Dominga, despite the fact that one of the main investors is Carlos Alberto Délano, one of the best friends of President-elect Sebastián Piñera, but also closely linked to Moreno himself. The former chancellor of Piñera occupied the presidency of the Penta companies - controlled by Délano - at the most critical moment for the holding company: when the scandal of the political parties broke out and he had to work on improving his reputation. In addition, Moreno participated in the boards of Banmédica, Penta Vida and Penta Las Américas.

It is the imbricated relationship between Piñera and his circle that most disturbs the residents of La Higuera and the national and international community, which is awaiting the protection of the oceans, especially now that, this week, the protocol that enshrines 44% of the zone of economic exclusivity as maritime reserves.


 
Dominga Piñera​

"The technical reports that founded our decision, both Sernapesca, SAG, Conaf, Ministry of Environment, Health and Agriculture, show that there are problems with the baseline of the project and that is not corrected with a change of Government," Mena, and continues with his arguments: "Therefore, it is important that the decisions that are made are based on the technical. The position of the Executive is that the agreement must be sought, but this agreement must keep the project in its condition of rejection. That agreement must include all the actors, including the communities. The next government has the power to make its own determinations. The opinion of the current Executive is already clear, "he says.

 

As soon as the project was rejected, Piñera was emphatic. "Chile has to reconcile the necessary economic development with the protection of the environment. For that we need to act in a serious, responsible and not in the erratic way of the current Government, "said the president-elect, who was also involved in a controversy with the project a year ago, Radio Bío Bío. he announced that Piñera - a Private Investment Fund (FIP) called the Mediterranean - had been the owner, together with his family, of a relevant percentage of the mining company. The most questionable is that his participation was active when he stopped the Barrancones Thermoelectric Plant in Punta de Choros and only 14 kilometers from where Dominga would be located.

The last steps in the processing of Dominga have been like this: last August the Committee of Ministers rejected the questioned mining-port project. Three months later, Andes Iron filed a complaint in the First Environmental Court of Antofagasta to reverse the decision of the committee, after which the incumbent ministers decided to open a conciliation process, whose first hearing will be on March 14. The Environmental Tribunal is already preparing the bases for that process and will seek an agreement.

"In a hypothetical conciliation, the Environmental Evaluation Service (SEA) -which acts as representative of the Committee of Ministers- and the project owner, could agree on conditions that would perfect the project with respect to what was decided by the Committee of Ministers", The president of the First Environmental Court of Antofagasta, Daniel Guevara, has said in the press. If the conciliation does not work, the procedure continues and the aforementioned court should issue a ruling before March 30. In case it is contrary to the wishes of Andes Iron, the company would have to go to the Supreme Court as a last option.

The process initiated by the Environmental Court turned out to be an unexpected path for the detractors of Dominga. "No one was projecting this," they comment inside an NGO that has studied the subject closely. "The fears have to do with the hope that the SEA faithfully represents the Committee of Ministers," they say. "Piñera will assume three days before the conciliation begins, nobody believes that they are capable of changing the people of the SEA only to manipulate the conciliation, but there is fear," he adds.

For Flavia Liberona, executive director of Fundación Terram, it is worrisome how Antofagasta's Environmental Tribunal intends to reach an agreement between the parties. "The community is represented by several lawyers who are not going to reach an agreement with the company, so what is the court trying to do? Establish a company-government agreement against the community? I am also worried about the Cruz Grande project that is located in the same area, "he says.

Daniel Guevara was a DC sympathizer and under the Government of Ricardo Lagos was Seremi de Bienes Nacionales for Antofagasta. However, after that, he has twice been a candidate for Parliament for Renovación Nacional, the same store as Piñera.

Consulted on this process, in Andes Iron they did not want to refer to the subject waiting for it to arrive on March 14.

 

Deep Impact

 

What most disturbs the detractors of the project is that the natural conditions and the ecosystem in the place in dispute have not changed, therefore, the project still has no meaning for them.

Carlos Gaymer, a researcher at the Department of Marine Biology at Universidad Católica del Norte, explained a few months ago to El Mostrador that Dominga's impact could be profound. "The entire area of ​​influence between Caleta Hornos and Punta de Choros, passing through Totoralillo Norte and Chungungo, where the mining areas are supposed to be located, is at the heart of a large area of ​​global importance for biodiversity. It is said that the reserves are farther north and that the mining company would not affect them, but it is not true, the reserves are part of this great system, "he said.

For this same fact is that, during the weekend, neighbors of the commune of La Higuera, organizations of fishermen, tourism, agricultural and socio-environmental, made a letter to urgently request the creation of the Marine and Coastal Protected Area in this place. "Science has been explaining for years the importance of this marine area for the conservation of biodiversity. An oceanographic phenomenon known as upwelling allows an important wealth of water, enabling the existence of a large number of species that feed, transit or reproduce in the area, many of them in danger or vulnerable, such as the Humboldt Penguin, the Chungungo, the Blue Whale and the Fin Whale, as well as an important number of seabirds, "they explained in the text.

The Minister of the Environment, Marcelo Mena, who voted against the project, maintains the same line as when he delivered his rejection to Dominga. "An ecosystem is no less important because of a change in government. A penguin or a whale is no longer valid for the fact that it governs one or the other coalition, "he says emphatically.

"The technical reports that founded our decision, both Sernapesca, SAG, Conaf, Ministry of Environment, Health and Agriculture, show that there are problems with the baseline of the project and that is not corrected with a change of Government," Mena, and continues with his arguments: "Therefore, it is important that the decisions that are made are based on the technical. The position of the Executive is that the agreement must be sought, but this agreement must keep the project in its condition of rejection. That agreement must include all the actors, including the communities. The next government has the power to make its own determinations. The opinion of the current Executive is already clear, "he says.

 
 

The neighbors are already organizing so that their voice is heard in this last section: they prepare a large march in La Serena, in addition to the collection of 15,000 signatures to create the Marine and Coastal Protected Area. "If we have to give a fight during all this Government (which is coming), we will give it, because our idea is that Dominga never installs", closes Josué Ramos.

 


Source: Mostrador

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