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viernes, 30 de octubre de 2020

Public Statement: Director Maule Itata Coastkeeper NGO -Waterkeeper Alliance Member- receives lawsuit for questioning a subdivision adjacent to the Los Arcos de Calan Nature Sanctuary area

Rodrigo de la O - Director of the NGO Vigilante Costero. Latin America Rep. Waterkeeper’s Council Member. Director of the Pelluhue Community Environmental Committee



After having received various calls or communications, on August 21 of this year, I was in the Punta Calan sector from where records were made of the intervention in prairies and beaches with delimitation of fences, in relation to a subdivision, and projection private real estate, in the southern sector adjacent to the Arcos de Calan sanctuary, in the commune of Pelluhue, in the Maule Region. The marking and / or registration activity is a permanent action as a protocol within our area, that is, it's a periodic activity to support irregular situations in the Maule Itata coastal area (Direct Action Area of our NGO), as well as it is a way of showing changes in the behavior of swells and their impact on the territory.

Images were captured and, that same day, it was published on our social networks (Instagram, Facebook), mainly to expose the issue to public debate and generate an openness towards the municipality and local communities. The objective of this publication, and subsequent ones, is to generate a space for articulation representing through our organization the concerns or request for support from third parties through our protocol of "Responsible Citizen Complaints" as an NGO program and members of the Waterkeeper Alliance , which we represent as an organization in a broad, objective and never personal way. Maintaining the anonymity of those who do not want to appear and trust us to represent them when irregular or questionable acts are identified within our work area and in alliance or network with other local, territorial, regional, national and international organizations or groups.

Lawsuit for Damages Compensation

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, I received a lawsuit against me from the Costa Calan real estate company, for CL$203.194.324 (US$265.000), for compensation for damages for publications related to a subdivision of land and, where I am accused of "forging a public denigration". These accusations are unfounded for various reasons.

First, I was interviewed by a Cauquenes organization in the Arcos de Calan sector on August 20, in the sanctuary area, in the morning. In that interview, an objective and general opinion is expressed, within the right to free expression, both of the sanctuary project, as well as, regarding the real estate project in question. Those who originally published and materialized or produced the video don't have to do with me, nor do they belong to organizations that I represent. We also don't have access to their social networks. They are friendly, autonomous organizations, with which we maintain certain common objectives and that, along with many others, we ally or articulate to be able to expose and defend critical, fragile points in our area and province from the local point of view or vision, to be able to influence and participate in decisions and public policies.

Second, no person, natural or legal, has ever been disqualified or denigrated, a fact is simply exposed based on the background collected (until that moment) through existing mechanisms, via the transparency and access to information law public, in order to submit it to a legitimate public debate in an objective and truthful context. Always putting in relevance the location and scope of the Sanctuary Zone.

Returning to the video and associated text, published on August 26 of this year on our Instagram and Facebook network, it corresponds to the professional audiovisual work belonging to a territorial environmental organization and that we publish in full as it was delivered to us for the sole purpose, it has already been said, to know the limits and purpose of the project, considering the necessary re-evaluation of the same through the existing channels in the administration and public management of the State, agreeing that an evaluation has only been carried out through a particular environmental study, paid by the same real estate developer of the project.

As a result of this public exhibition, representatives of the real estate agency in question came to the Pelluhue municipal council to present their project (September 8). Prior to this, there was no formal information as answered in an official municipal document via the transparency law in coordination with the Pelluhue Communal Environmental Committee (Comité Ambiental Comunal de Pelluhue; CAC).

A direct questioning of me is related to the damage done to the real estate company in question, where it is mentioned that, what I have exposed in this audiovisual material and publications via social networks, causes them economic damage. In my opinion, I cannot be held responsible for not considering all the variables for the execution of a (private) real estate business in an area adjacent to a Natural Sanctuary and adjacent to public assets, evidencing their limited knowledge of the sector.

It is in this context that the initial publication exposed from our social networks, served to publicize the situation and be able to alert both the promoters of the real estate project, as well as potential buyers, of the pending administrative instances, as the need of a Favorable Report from the competent governmental entities (SAG; Serviu; and, Seremi Agricultura) to be able to request the Municipal Building Permit through the respective DOM (Directorate of Municipal Works) that is required when it is intended to divide, sell and, eventually, build houses. This also applies to the maximum considerations of the real estate development in progress and to be able to know today what is the purpose of the project to objectively determine the level of evaluation to which it must be submitted.

The text that has been questioned in its final part says: "So, this type of project, I imagine it serves that, to be better management and planning instruments (emphasis added)". It is decontextualized, perhaps, by not making explicit that, "this type of project" refers to the project of the Natural Sanctuary of Nature of Los Arcos de Calan, in which I have participated for a long time to achieve that the priority site for conservation is recognized as such (Arcos Calan Sanctuary) and that it is, in its interconnection (between sanctuaries), where the management or planning instruments (mentioned) are generated or built for the adequate territorial ordering that is urgently required. That is why, the location of the Real Estate Agency is criticized or questioned and it is necessary to know what the end, or final purpose, of the subdivision project is, agreeing that the Certificate issued by the Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) doesn't authorize change of land use maintaining its usufruct for an agricultural purpose, not real estate.

In addition, when one refers to the Conservation Area, it is related to the area of the Sanctuary polygon. However, it is understood that the Sanctuary or Conservation Zone is a place of recharge and regeneration of biodiversity that exceeds and "overflows" the limits or proposed polygon. In this context, the sanctuary itself and its function as a conservation area, goes beyond its limits, interacting with the ecosystems or surrounding sectors in a natural and inevitable way. It is worth mentioning that there is still the possibility of expanding the sanctuary polygon because the current one has the characteristic of a proposal.

It is necessary to clarify that when referring to real estate as a concept, we are not necessarily referring to the particular situation adjacent to Punta Calan, but to the entire Maule Itata coastal area which, in our experience, shows a series of irregularities and legal loopholes in public or private properties that border the beaches of Chile (also with rivers, lakes and lagoons), establishing in recent time a real estate boom that, as a turning point in our area, must be addressed and regulated in advance to avoid problems or situations that we might regret in the future.

Publications are made in a respectful manner, without prejudice and where certain gaps may be evident, within the process, which is fair and timely to be able to elucidate; as it is also, with respect to the deregulation that is identified in the coastal area with properties adjacent to "beaches of the sea" and a kind of "jurisdictional administrative limbo" that, precisely, with this particular situation, is exposed, which justifies and supports the proposal and the need to have an adequate Coastal Management Law and an integrated watershed system.

In this context, together with other organizations, we published on September 3 a Public Declaration of United Organizations for the Defense and Protection of Arcos de Calán and the Maule-Ñuble Territory.

Finally, I cannot (or as an organization) take charge of comments, opinions or acts of third parties and, above all, that our sole purpose is to be able to preserve and avoid situations of environmental impact or damage, already known in other sections of the coast, that they don't want to repeat themselves.

That is why we will follow formal instances to face this legal claim that calls into question our actions, as well as our objectives as an environmental organization.


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