Some forty-five forestry companies have joined to start a class action lawsuit against the Chilean government, demanding compensation for the losses, constant arson attacks, and wood robberies of which they have been victims since 2017.
It is estimated that these attacks during 2021 cost the forestry industry in the so called macro-zone (southern Chile) some US$ 100 million, mainly because of a lack of government policies coordination. Aboriginal radical groups allegedly belonging to the Mapuche tribe, and heavily armed, have organized raids on forestry camps, destroying and setting on fire housing, trucks, equipment and tools.
Juan Jose Ugarte, president of Chile's Wood Corporation, Corma, said they are supportive of the companies' demand and do not discard joining the class action.
Nobody nowadays denies that there has been a total absence of the rule of the law in the region, and victims must be compensated, said Ugarte, who added that the Association of Forestry Contractors have complained publicly that in recent years their losses because of the attacks, are over US$ 200 million, which naturally has an impact on their capacity to keep business running, and investing.
Very rough times for the forestry industry, arson and robbing wood are crimes, said Ugarte. Culprits must be taken to court and sentenced, the monies help to finance the armed gangs, and challenges the rule of the law.
Regrettably of the two thousand incidents which have been presented to the Prosecution in the last four years, in only 1% has the government taken part in the accusation, Ugarte pointed out. It is essential for government to participate, helping the judicial process to have more fluidity in the courts. As said before of the 2,000 incidents in only 50 of them were those responsible, sanctioned and a few sent to jail
Corma data shows that because of the situation and lack of rule of the law, in the last three years some twenty companies have gone bankrupt, leaving 1,600 workers without jobs. As to the cost and losses, four years ago it was US$ 20 million, last year it jumped to US$ 92 million and so far this year is close to US$ 50 million, unsustainable numbers for any company or industry.
Ugarte insisted we demand a more active role from government, since there is much passiveness when acts of stealing, illegal occupation and settlement in private property, and even when attacking housing and neighbors. We are defenseless and wish not to take the law in our hands”.