sábado, 23 de octubre de 2010

Estamos bien los 33... pero fuerza al pueblo mapuche (censurado)

"33 Miners rescue reality show obscures mining's royalty 2023 invariability law (Chile)"

Chile’s president Piñera delivered a vibrant speech at LSE last night amidst rising controversy about his media manipulation of the rescuing of the 33 miners trapped for 68 days in the San José mine that made world headlines last week.

A heated dialogue followed on Twitter, as Piñera’s brother confronted activist Naomi Klein’s claim that capitalism was to blame for the accident, especially because of the Mining Law drafted by the latter under Pinochet’s infamous rule. “It was President Piñera's brother José who wrote the law privatizing the mines under Pinochet, helping create the disaster” said Klein, to which José Piñera at one point replied “What are you smoking?”.

It remains that two substantial new legal packages were being railroaded through the Chilean Congress as the 33 were being rescued amidst worldwide media frenzy, eclipsed by the news. One was passed guaranteeing that transnational corporations like BHPBILLITON continue to pay less than 20% taxes on profit until 2023, despite sky-rocketing prices and profits owing to the boom driven by China’s demand for copper (Escondida, one of BHPBILLITON’s 3 open-pit copper mines in Chile, made close to US$6 billion profit in 2006, that is about half of that corporations total profit in 2008). Next, there is the small print in a constitutional reform supposed to recognize indigenous peoples formally, but submitted to "urgent discussion" without the people to be recognized, not in the least consulted as required by national and international laws.

The reform put forward only recognizes the nine indigenous peoples in Chile as “communities”, and not as such peoples, further depriving them of collective land and water ownership rights (in favour of mining). Indeed, most mining operations in the north are located in more than 5 million hectares of indigenous territories that were identified as such by the authorities over 15 years ago, but that were never demarcated or properly regularized. Because priceless water makes up 3% of the mineral-rich ore exported from Chile by companies like BHPBILLITON, along with Molybdenum, rhenium and other rare earths for which they pay nothing. In fact, unlike its free-trade partner countries Australia and the USA, the Chilean State charges no rent (Royalty) for the minerals and water extracted by the mining companies who hence drain the land at steadfast rate while financing heavily polluting carbon thermoelectric plants in order to satisfy their growing energy needs.

Overall, mining companies take up 40% of the country’s energy grid (which makes up 20% of its cost structure) while consumers are left to foot the highest energy bills in Latin America, so that  Chile’s seven major cities heat themselves with greenwood, with grave environmental  consequences and deathly MP2,5 pollution levels.

With the former CEOs of BHP BILLITON, Mauro Valdés and Diego Hernández, at the head of Chile’s National Television and National Copper companies, no wonder that there was no media coverage of the new mining tax invariability law or about the 34 imprisoned Mapuche people in hunger strike claiming for their land rights and against an Antiterrorist law, for most of the time miners were trapped.

Chile's mainstream LATERCERA newspaper recently revealed that the message sent by the trapped miners cheering the mapuche people in hunger strike "Fuerza al Pueblo Mapuche" was supressed by the government, causing unease amongst the miners families"...

This particular news story hints at Chile's real problems: censorship, growing inequalities, inexistant labor rights, very poor education, extremely high energy prices and MP2.5 pollution levels, etc...

So if the world coverage of Chile’s 33 rescue boosts Piñeras’ public image, it also eclipses extractive industry’s abuses  and the ongoing plight of indigenous peoples. Likewise, in the U.K., Piñera’s stone-giving  to the Queen an PM Cameron received some attention, while those manifesting  for Chile’s indigenous peoples rights’ outside the LSE didn’t get any.

So Chile’s new media shine or what Piñera would like us to believe is the new “Chilean Way” is mere fool’s gold:  70% of the country wants a real Royalty law and agrees to the need for a new constitution that would replace that which was set in place in 1980 under Pinochet’s dictatorship, which put a series of legal padlocks preventing much-needed reform. Mineral-rich Chile remains one of the countries with the worst income distribution in the entire world, and there are no fancy rescue plans in sight.

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