Anonymous musician heads to the front lines. The majority of the front lines are personned by youth. Photo: Langelle Photography
Overwhelming Majority votes to throw out Pinochet-era Constitution one year after Peoples’ Uprising demands real change
Recognizing the historic achievements of our partner organizations in Chile, and inspired by our work on the ground in Chile last November which documented and supported the Peoples’ Uprising there, Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch share this public statement and ongoing call to action to create the deep structural change required to respond to intensifying environmental and human rights crises in Chile.
The triumph of the October 25 plebiscite vote in Chile to reject the military constitution of the Pinochet dictatorship is an ethical and political victory for social movements. Over the space of several decades, we have had the honor to work in solidarity with partners in Chile confronting the extractivist industry as well as systemic human rights and ecological abuses, and we are compelled to share their celebration and also amplify their determination to achieve real change.
“What we hear our partners saying is that the opportunity to pursue a new Constitution in Chile is simply the opening of a door– by a spontaneous, organic and leaderless uprising, reinforced by decades of political organizing in the face of daunting repression,” said Gary Hughes of Biofuelwatch.
Hughes emphasized that “the need for the global community to support the mobilization for justice in Chile must continue to grow following this historic vote. This is not the end, but the beginning.”
“While we are inspired by the clear signal for change that was sent by nearly 80% of the vote affirming the need for a new Constitution,” said Anne Petermann, Executive Director with Global Justice Ecology Project, “we are also deeply aware of the ongoing risks and dangers to environmental defenders and indigenous community leaders in the Mapuche territory of Wallmapu. These territories continue to be the front lines for militarization, criminalization, imprisonment and police violence designed to put down the growing demands and actions by Mapuche people for a return of their traditional territories.”
“We stand in solidarity with the Mapuche peoples and the social movements in Chile in their drive to attain self-determination and to overturn the devastation wrought by the Neoliberal economy implemented under Pinochet,” concluded Petermann.
GJEP and BFW continue to work in solidarity to support our partners in Chile that are exposing the environmental, social and cultural devastation of projects such as the expansion of industrial timber plantations by Arauco and CMPC that trample the lands, rights and well-being of local communities.
23 October 2020
“I refused to sign. I cannot sell out my people. And if need be, I will die for my people.” Tragically, grandmother Fikile Ntshangase’s words became a reality when she was gunned down in her home at Ophondweni, near Mtubatuba, on the evening of 22 October 2020.
Mama Ntshangashe was the Vice-Chairperson of a sub-committee of the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (“MCEJO”). MCEJO has been challenging the further expansion of a large coal mine at Somkele in KwaZulu-Natal by Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) Ltd. One of the court cases brought by MCEJO is scheduled for hearing in the Supreme Court of Appeal on 3 November 2020.
On Thursday, 22 October 2020 at about 18:30, four gunmen arrived at Mam Nsthangase’s house, where she lives with her 11-year old grandson. Current reports say that they forced themselves into the home and shot her 5 times, and that she died on the scene.
To read more visit Save Our Mfolozi Wilderness Campaign
Caption: A jubilant crowd as red flares, fires and lasers light up Plaza de la Dignidad, also known as Plaza Italia, on Day 50 of the Peoples’ Uprising. photolangelle.org (2019)
On Sunday, 25 October 2020, the people of Chile overwhelmingly voted to throw out that Constitution and write a new one. The hard work, however, is just beginning to create a new Constitution and a new system that will eliminate injustice and top-down Neoliberalism. A process that benefits all Chileans–including especially the Indigenous Mapuche People who have suffered greatly under Neoliberalism is being taken up.
For more of GJEP’s coverage from Chile’s Uprising visit https://globaljusticeecology.org/category/news-and-analysis/
Buenos Aires Times 25 October 2020
The result set off wild celebrations across the capital and other cities after voters turned out in droves to throw-out the constitution left by the regime of 1973-1990 dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Thousands of people flocked onto the streets of Santiago amid a cacophany of horn-blaring to celebrate victory for the “Approve” campaign within minutes of the polls closing.
“I never imagined that us Chileans would be capable of uniting for such a change!” said a jubilant María Isabel Nuñez, 46, as she walked in the crowd hand-in-hand with her 20-year-old daughter.
With more than half the votes counted, the “Approve” campaign had amassed 77.9 percent of the vote, with the “Reject” campaign polling just 22.10 percent. Among the 60,000 Chileans living abroad who voted in 65 nations, the vote was 86 percent for a new constitution and 13 percent against, officials said. About 15 million Chileans were eligible to vote.
Acknowledging the result, President Sebastián Piñera called on the nation to work together for a “new constitution” in a speech broadcast from his Moneda Palace surrounded by his Cabinet.
“This plebiscite is not the end, it is the beginning of a path that we must all walk together to agree on a new constitution for Chile,” Piñera said.
“Today, peace has prevailed over violence,” he added. “It is a triumph of the Chileans that love democracy and peace.”
“Until now, the constitution has divided us. From today we must all work together so that the new constitution is the great framework of unity, stability and the future.”
To read more visit Buenos Aires Times
Woman with the Organization of Rural Women Workers protests Monsanto’s GMO seeds during a march in Curitiba, Brazil. Photo: Petermann (2006)
Note: For decades, rural women around the world have been on the front lines of the battles to stop the toxic and deadly impacts of both GMO monocultures and industrial tree plantations. Now, with the resurgence of the corporate effort to promote development of industrial plantations of genetically engineered (GE or genetically modified) trees in rural areas around the world, women are once again going to be forced to take a stand to stop this threat to their communities and the forests and ecosystems they depend on. Here in the United States, GE tree proponents are promoting the USDA deregulation of the genetically engineered American chestnut tree. If approved, this GE tree designed to be released into forests with no monitoring or oversight, would open the door to future approvals of GE trees designed for industrial tree plantations.
To stand up to the GE tree industry and take action to protect forests and communities around the world from the menace of GE tree visit https://stopgetrees.org/take-action/
15 October 2020
October 15th marks International Day of Rural Women. Today, along with eight of our member groups, we are celebrating the role and invaluable contributions of women and girls all around the world towards protecting forests and biodiversity, producing healthy and sustainable food and providing for their families and communities.
However, rural women are still among the most vulnerable and marginalized groups, showing that there is much work to be done in the struggle for gender equality. As our member groups show, women are self-organizing to overcome these challenges, demand their rights and bridge the gender gap. At the same time, they are contributing to the well-being of their communities and the ecosystems they depend on, as well as the planet overall.
The photographs and descriptions below are a brief glimpse into the inspiring work that our member groups have been leading through the Women2030 programme. Over the past five years, Women2030 has worked with partners all over the world to build the capacity and strength of women’s rights organizations to advance local, national and regional gender-responsive sustainable development policies.
To view the full photo-essay from Global Forest Coalition click here.
The Biscuit (1990)
Woman with monkey wrench atop buried Chevrolet Biscayne, nicknamed “The Biscuit,” in a car blockade of the Fairview timber sale in the Shawnee. The car blocked the entrance to the Shawnee National Forest during the EF! occupation. The car blockade was a replica of a photo taken during the then-ongoing “Oka Crisis.”
July 11-Sept. 26, 1990
By Alex Q. Arbuckle
“In the summer of 1990, long-simmering tensions among the First Nations of Canada reached a flash point around the Kanesatake Mohawk reservation 30 miles west of Montreal.
The reservation was surrounded by the town of Oka, which was preparing to build a members-only golf course and luxury condo development on a pine grove and cemetery where many Mohawk families’ ancestors were buried. The Mohawk had been contesting the Canadian claim to these sacred lands for centuries, but the courts rejected their attempts.
A determined group of Mohawk protesters finally took matters into their own hands, erecting a protest camp and barricades on the road to the proposed development site.”