The Penguin Petition has been handed over to the Bachelet Government

Rainforest Rescue collects over 219.000 signatures to protect the Humboldt Penguin. Sphenisco hands the signatures over to the Chilean Environmental Minister Pablo Badenier, in Santiago.

Santiago de Chile/Landau, June 7, 2016.

On June 2nd, a delegation organized by Sphenisco presented Environmental Minister Pablo Badenier 219.143 signatures that were collected from 190 countries. The delegation consisted of the Coquimbo Region Senator Adriana Muñoz (1); Josue Ramos, the spokesman for the coastal fishers from Los Choros (2); Isabella Monso from the citizens movement group MODEMA; Raimundo Gòmez Vergara from Chao Pescao, a group of artists that campaign for environmental issues; Sphenisco's representative in Chile, Nancy Duman; as well as a volunteer from Sphenisco, Laura Schuler.

The delegation's goal was, through the signatures collected by Rainforest Rescue, as well as through the “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral Declaration”, to point out to the Chilean government the dangers to the survival of 13,000 breeding pairs of Humboldt Penguins as well as to the regional environment as a whole, which would result from the planned building of two industrial ports. The Environmental Minister appeared surprised about Senator Muñoz's involvement, as well as the references to irregularities that occurred during the environmental impact assessment of the mines and ports projects.

Mrs. Muñoz thanked the Environmental Minister for taking the documents and requested that he support solutions that would conserve the environment. This request is ímportant because the port projects are linked with the planned bio-oceanic corridor (3). The danger exists that through hasty decisions, the repercussions on the environment would not be sufficiently taken into consideration, and particularly important ecological zones such as the Elqui Valley and the marine region before the coast of La Higuera would be massively damaged.

Mr. Ramos noted as well that the planned projects would damage the environment irreversibly, and also harm the coastal fisheries. He mentioned that the corporation Andes Iron was dividing the populace. Through disinformation and bribery, Andes Iron has been attempting to court acceptance for their “Dominga” project. He asked the Enviornmental Minister if it is possible that a project from a corporation would be acceptable to the Chilean government, whose owners were known to be corrupt. Minister Pablo Badenier then stated that he would speak with the politically responsible parties in the Coquimbo Region.

The Campaign “Save 26,000 Penguins” follows two objectives. First:  to inform authorities and the Chilean public about the problems with the environmental review of the port projects in a marine area of global importance, and Second:  to obtain an appropriate factual review of the mines and ports projects.

Through the phenomenal feedback of the signature campaign – over 219,000 signatures – and the handoff of the petitions to the Bachelet government, the Chilean Senate, the Chilean Diplomat in Berlin, as well as the regional government, we have reached our goal of informing the “potentially responsible parties”. The goal of informing the public could, so far, only be partially reached. Even when in the meantime, an entire array of media have reported on the issue, the battle against environmental destruction and corruption in the community of La Higuera is not adequately known. We have also not yet been able to reach the second goal of an appropriate factual review. Through the support of politicians such as Minister Marcelo Diaz, the Assemblymen Raũl Saldivar and Daniel Melo, and Senators Adriana Muñoz and Antonio Horvat, we have nevertheless gotten somewhat closer.


translated by Erich Greiner


(1) Directly-elected Senator of the Coquimbo Region.

(2)  President of the Fishery Cooperative of Los Choros and the Vice President of the Fishery Consortium of Los Choros (Presidente de la Cooperativa Pesquera de Los Choros y Vicepresidente del Gremio de Pescadores de Los Choros).

(3) Transportation link via a tunnel from the Pacific to the Atlantic, through the Andes Mountains, is currently being discussed and planned in Chile.