MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, December 5th 2022 - 13:52 UTC



UN water rights expert questions Chile for placing economic development over human rights

Friday, August 21st 2020 - 10:59 UTC
Full article 17 comments
Leo Heller, the UN special rapporteur said he had asked the government to “clarify” its approach to the intensive cultivation of avocados in central Chile Leo Heller, the UN special rapporteur said he had asked the government to “clarify” its approach to the intensive cultivation of avocados in central Chile

Chile on Thursday faced questioning by a United Nations water rights expert who suggested the government could be placing economic development over human rights through controversial agriculture and energy projects.

Leo Heller, the UN special rapporteur on human rights to drinking water and sanitation, said he had asked the government to “clarify” its approach to the intensive cultivation of avocados in the central coastal region of Valparaiso, as well as the Alto Maipo Hydroelectric Project which lies southeast of the capital, Santiago.

“The Chilean Government would not be fulfilling its international human rights obligations if it prioritizes economic development projects over the human rights to water and health,” he said in a statement.

“These two projects may put that supply at risk, which is particularly worrying during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chile has been in the grip of one of the worst droughts in 60 years and last year declared a water emergency in Petorca, the center of its world-leading avocado trade.

One avocado tree uses more water per day than the 50-litre daily quota set aside for each resident, Heller said, yet the government continues to grant new water rights to agricultural companies.

The current quota for residents did not account for the frequent hand washing required to kill coronavirus, he added.

The Alto Maipo Hydroelectric Project in the Andes mountains that loom over the nation's capital generates electricity by diverting the three main tributaries of the Maipo River through some 67km of tunnels.

Heller said the project could have a negative impact on the main source of drinking water for Santiago residents, but also worsen the city's pollution problem by damaging the Maipo River Basin “green corridor.”

Matias Asun, Greenpeace director in Chile, said the “harsh statement” was unprecedented. “This must be answered by the government,” he said.

Categories: Environment, Politics, Chile.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Chicureo

    Estimado THINK

    It's another exceptionally beautiful day here in the glorious Aconcagua Valley and we're currently in the process of planting — a new table grape vineyard on a small piece of land we've retained as a family for over a century.

    The Greenpeace radicals really need to cut down all the thousands of trees lining the Aconcagua valley that literally consume over one thousand liters daily each. (Unlike the superfood and labor providing avocado orchards that we carefully monitor their water usage.)

    I also strongly support the strict enforcement of my nation's water ownership laws and unscrupulous growers stealing water should be severely punished. Water should be carefully conserved and used for the benefit of the people, which certainly respects private property on which taxes are properly paid. Also, I completely agree that public municipalities should be provided with clean water.

    Remember old friend, Chile's Aconcagua Valley is a special place — the people, the vineyards, the orchards and the majestic Andes mountains. To give you an idea of what makes my family's avocados particularly special, they grow in one of the most enchanting hillside areas of my humble country — that is ideal is for growing them.

    We’re talking about the beautiful landscape, the freshest Pacific and Andean breezes and, of course, the friendly Chilean sun. The most sublime weather conditions foster the growth of our superfood. This, accompanied by our care as hard working avocado growers — ensures you of that creamy avocado taste with each slice.

    Hoping your Ligurian Summer is as pleasant, as our Winter is here.


    Aug 21st, 2020 - 06:19 pm +1
  • Chicureo

    Estimado THINK

    I'm finally back today here in Chicureo, with two of my oldest delightful grandchildren visiting and Madame is making maracuyá icecream. The weather is spectacular with one of the benefits of this pandemic lockdown — the sky over the Santiago region is crystal clear.

    You have an interesting perspective about American politics and I sincerely respect your intuitive viewpoint — especially regarding the accusations against political operatives. Frankly you and I share a similar advocation of following the political outliers, such like AOC on your side — and myself with Trump.

    I honestly think that IF the Democrat Party had chosen a dynamic candidate, like Tulsi Gabbard — Americans would change course, but instead they chose one of the least inspiring old political hacks that represent the Washington DC swamp.

    As I've said before, Trump and the Republican Party will easily win in landslide victories on November 3rd. I sense that you realize — that the Democrats have screwed themselves.

    I would also again insist that the current pandemic strategy of shutting down the world economy is a terrible mistake. The Swedish model, with its admitted flaws, is still what I think Latin America should completely embrace and develop a herd immunity. Too many people desperately need employment. (The current level of poverty and misery here due to the pandemic shutdown in Chile is completely untenable!)

    It's a perfect weekend and we're planning a modest asado for the afternoon. Life at the moment is wonderful and I sincerely hope your European Summer is equally as pleasant.


    Aug 22nd, 2020 - 03:04 pm 0
  • Think

    Summer here is ok...
    Bushtucker is acceptable...
    Have been in worse places...

    Aug 22nd, 2020 - 03:48 pm 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!