It Was a Sad Earth Day for Chile


By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – On Earth Day, this April 22, I saw with great concern what happened in the Commission on the Environment, Rights of Nature, Common Natural Assets and Economic Model of the Constitutional Convention, after it rejected the second report in plenary.

Although not everything has been said, since a new report may be presented by the commission, it should serve as an alert to how we are understanding the Rights of Nature, which are approved in several of the articles of the draft constitution.

I point this out, since different articles referring to the defense of common resources were rejected, such as de-privatizing water, nationalizing copper, protecting small-scale agriculture, protecting native forests, soil, wetlands and glaciers, the right to live in a healthy environment and environmental justice.

Beyond the fact that not enough votes were obtained, after the members of the Socialist Collective voted against the report, and that they were accused of being traitors for opposing the proposed articles, it should be an opportunity to reflect on what country wej want to build with the new constitution.

Hence, it is of no use to point the finger at any political group, without asking ourselves what sustains the rejection of articles that are absolutely necessary, in a context of climate and civilizational crisis, where each year, the Earth’s resources are consumed faster and faster, as the Global Footprint Network (GFN) rightly states in its reports.

For this reason, the discussion goes far beyond confronting ideological positions of the left or right or of conservatives or progressives on how we see the current environmental situation. The scientific evidence is categorical, pointing out that global warming has been caused by models that promote unsustainable lifestyles.

It could be said that Chile, having such a small and marginal economy, has a minimal impact on a global scale. However, seeing it that way is not understanding that the Earth is a great interconnected and interdependent system, so everything that is done always has repercussions elsewhere.

On the other hand, to continue to believe that the environment is an issue solely for indigenous people and ecologists, of an identity nature, as those who oppose these articles of the Environment Commission say, is to continue reproducing a colonial idea of ​​the Earth, which reinforces the arbitrary separation between Culture and Nature.

The need, therefore, to approve the next Environment report to be presented becomes essential, at an unprecedented historical moment, which gives us the opportunity to set a precedent, compared to other countries in the region and the world, in what refers to laying certain foundations and horizons that allow us to stop the socio-ecological crisis that we find ourselves in.

In good time, there are many organizations and Convention members who know that there may be new rights and more democratic ways of structuring the State in the new constitution, but if the Earth is not put at the center, everything will be in vain.

To the contrary, those of the discourse of rejection will say that those who are promoting post-extractivist transitions, through the care of seeds, food sovereignty, energy sovereignty, agroecology, permaculture and urban gardens are purely approaches of fanatics. They seem not to understand the challenges we have as humanity.

Given the above, when voting on the next report of the Environment Commission, I call on the Socialist Collective of the Constitutional Assembly, to consider the historical moment that Chile is experiencing and the tremendous opportunity that we have as a country to reverse the damage that we have caused to the Earth.

The environmental commission in session.

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