Campaign against the power plants

Straight to the Point! „Humboldt Alliance“

La Serena, Landau 5. March 2019.
On the 27th and 28th of February, as well as on March 4th, proceedings in the appeal against the verdict of the First Environmental Court in Antofagasta from April 27, 2018 were held at the Supreme Court in Santiago [see also, “Carta Abierta (open letter) to President Piñera, on this website]. The High Court heard the attorneys’ pleadings from eight different parties, six against (see first photo) and two for the Dominga Project from the Andes Iron Corporation. The environmental organizations Oceana and Geute pleaded against the project, as well as the citizens’ action groups and associations from the region (Modema, Drinking Water Committee, Association of Fishers and Small Farmers – see Remark 1). Those that pleaded for the project naturally came directly from Andes Iron Corporation and a regional citizens group that the corporation is very close to.

Campaigns and Events for a Healthy Environment

Landau 4. March 2019.

The mega-project from the Andes Iron Corporation has been rejected by the majority of the populace for some time now. The decision of the Environmental Court in Antofagasta and the plans of the Piñera government, to push large projects through without any consideration for the environment and the interests of the population, has outraged more and more people. Therefore, citizens have intensified their participation in campaigns in support of a healthy environment. Since the beginning of the year, environmental groups have organized many small and large campaigns and Events:

Civil Society Organizations Disgusted by Land Use Plan

La Serena, Landau 30. December 2018.
ZivilShame to the person who thinks badly of this. On 27. December – between Christmas and New Year’s, at the beginning of the summer vacation period – the Consejo Regional (advisory body of the Coquimbo Region) approved an intercommunity land use plan with thirteen votes to three. With this plan, it will be possible to industrialize areas that actually must be prioritized as protected areas. This plan would therefore allow port infrastructure to be built on the coast of La Higuera; the environmental importance of the region would thus be relegated to the background.
Numerous civil society organizations have already protested against this decision (1) before and inside of the Intendencia (the official seat of the Regional President) in La Serena. Nancy Duman was able to make a short statement to the Consejeros (regional council members) about the current plan’s one-sidedness and deficiencies:

1.  an already-existing plan, as well as the collective, scientific literature regarding the coast and the ocean area of “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral”, were not taken into account at all.

2.  the residents of the affected area were not involved in the decision, and their interests and needs were not respected.

3.  the plan opens the way for a contaminating industry (see Cruz Grande and “Dominga”), at the expense of an ecosystem of global importance.

“Reform” of the Environmental Review in Chile Planned

-Sphenisco Organizes a Seminar on the Ramifications-

La Serena, Landau 22. December 2018.
ReformFor over 20 years in the La Higuera Region (northern Chile), industrial projects have been planned that again and again threaten the “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral”ecosystem, and with it, the natural habitat of the Humboldt Penguin. It is SEIA’s task (the agency responsible for conducting the environmental compatibility assessment) to properly and in conjunction with subject-matter experts’ assessments, review and appraise the planned projects. In this process however, through intensive lobbying and maneuvering, corporations have continued to attempt to minimize imposed environmental conditions and to push through concessions from the government. The review processes usually take many years to complete, and are often finally decided in court.
In July, the Piñera government drafted a bill to “reform” the environmental review process. The review should become more modern and optimized, the influence of politics reduced, the participation of citizens expanded and the access to justice eased. That all sounds good. However, the actual suggested changes speak a very different language, as shown in the following examples:  thus, should the time of citizen participation be reduced from 60 to 30 days, the regional review committee should be dissolved and replaced by three nationwide commissions. The chronologically-shortened civic participation should be documented and its results submitted to the environmental court. Complaints are thus to be directed to the judiciary. With this, the court would simultaneously be the reviewer and the judge, and the separation between public authorities and justice would be removed. Overall, the possibilities for citizens to sue against a project would be drastically limited. According to the critical opinion of attorneys and experts, this “reform” would weaken the review of the environmental compatibility and open the floodgates for even stronger Manipulation.

No Sacrificial Zones!

Pursuit of Profit is Against Nature – and Against Environmental Protection 

Landau 2. November 2018.
Keine OpferzoneFor over 20 years, conservationists and environmentalists have been defending the habitat of the Humboldt Penguin and have demanded that the “La Higuera-Isla Chañaral“ ecosystem (northern Chile) be preserved through the creation of a marine protection area. Last year, it appeared that all the efforts at protection were finally paying off. The Coquimbo Regional Government and the cabinet of then-President Bachelet rejected the corporation Andes Iron’s proposed“Dominga” port and mining project. Shortly before the new administration took over in March, the Chilean Committee of Ministers unanimously voted in favor of the “Pinguino de Humboldt” Marine Protection Area. Bitter setbacks followed these advances. In May, the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the legal action against the Cruz Grande port project from Compania Minera del Pacífico S.A.-CMP, and the Chilean Environmental Court in Antofagasta granted Andes Iron’s appeal against the rejection of the “Dominga” project (see previous reports on this website). Environmentalists have since initiated legal action against these court decisions, before an international court against the approval of the Cruz Grande project, and at the Chilean Supreme Court against the “corrected” rejection of the “Dominga” project. Most recently, fishery unions have initiated legal action at the Chilean Constitutional Court. Many people view the verdict for “Dominga”as an expression of state despotism and a danger to the rule of law. This action by the Chilean court has disgusted and strengthened the citizens’and environmental movements.

Gobierno de ChileFishers Open Letter to President Piñera

La Serena, May 2, 2018
Sebastián Piñera Echeñique
President of the Republic
Sebastián Piñera EcheñiqueDear Mr. President,
As the Fishers and Citzens Collective of the Community Association of La Higuera and the Coquimbo Region, we are turning to you with an open letter, in order to voice our profound indignation that the government had decided not to lodge an appeal to the High Court against the April 27th verdict of the First Environmental Court in Antofagasta. With that verdict, the corporation Andes Iron's objection against the decisions of the governmental agency responsible for the environmental compatibility review and the Committee of Ministers was accepted, with the putative argument that “this time the procedure will follow valid law.”
How can the government and the environmental court guarantee and assure us that the environmental compatibility review will “this time” proceed according to valid law, when the environmental court  accepts a manipulated assessment as correct and does so without further review, and requires a new vote on the matter, without the company having first addressed and eliminated the faults of the intended Project?

For a Proper Review of Environmental Compatibility

La Serena, 25. January, 2016.

Chilean scientists and professionals have requested short-term assistance from Sphenisco, because they fear that through the construction of three ports, that the marine area of La Higuera and the Island of Chañaral in northern Chile will be irreversibly destroyed, an area that is one of the 35 most-important hotspots of biodiversity on the planet. The realization of these projects would mean the end for the Humboldt Penguin. A port in an ecosystem of global importance has already been approved, because the environmental compatibility was only reviewed for the sake of appearance (see also this internet site, Letter to President Bachelet, 12. Feb. 2015). There is currently a court case in process that was brought against the decision to approve this port project. Currently, the environmental compatibility review for the second port is in a crucial phase. With the “La Higuera-Chañaral Island Declaration” and the signature petition from “Save the Rainforest”

(, Sphenisco is turning to the Chilean and international public, da zu befürchten ist, because it is feared that also this second compatibility process will not be done in a proper manner.

Sphenisco appeals to nature and species-protection organizations, as well as friends of nature throughout the entire world, to sign the petition and to support its declaration, in order to bring attention to the threatening loss of this meaningful ecosystem. Sphenisco's chairman requests that all of its members and member-organisations utilize their connections to the media, or to mention them to  Chairwoman Gabriele Knauf.

In the coming weeks Sphenisco will personally inform parliamentarians, senators, and representatives of the media, in order to prompt parliamentary enquiries and investigations into the environmental compatibility review in the Coquimbo Region.