Chile ratifies treaty to protect green activists in Latin America

Santiago de Chile, May 31 (EFE).- The Chilean Senate Tuesday ratified the United Nation’s Escazu agreement on access to environmental information and justice and offers protection to green activists in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The agreement is significant is it comes in the wake of a spiral of violence against ecologists that has made Latin America one of the deadliest regions for environmental activists.

With 31 in favor, three against, and 11 abstentions, the Senate gave the green light to the first environmental treaty in the region and the only aimed at protecting green activists in the world.

“This is a historic vote,” said Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola at the end of the session in the Senate.

He said the agreement, signed in 2018 by many regional countries, signified “cooperation and solidarity between states in the face of a serious climate and human rights crisis.”

“Chile is going to be part of an agreement whose central axis is cooperation in a fragmented continent hit by the climate crisis,” the minister said.

Urrejola said it was essential for a country like Chile, which has a robust institutional framework on the environment, to cooperate with states that do not have it, “just as we require practices in defense of human rights defenders.”

“Defending rights is an essential part of a democracy…thanks to all the senators.”

Environment Minister Maisa Rojas said it was time to celebrate Chile’s “return to multilateralism, because, very particularly, due to the crises we are facing, solutions have to be taken jointly.”

“No one can solve the climate or biodiversity crisis alone. Either we solve it together or we do not leave our children a planet that is inhabitable.”

The minister said the treaty strengthened environmental democracy and gave the country a tool to crystallize President Gabriel Boric’s commitment “that this is the first ecologist government.”

Chile thus became the 13th country to ratify the agreement after Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and others.

Twenty-four countries had signed the pact to guarantee access to environmental rights and protect environment activists and biodiversity in times of climate emergency.

Chile, the world’s top copper producer, initially promoted the treaty after the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.

The then-president Sebastián Piñera raised the pact during his first time (2010-14). But he held back supporting it during his second term (2018-2022) due to pressure from the mining industry.

The incumbent president Boric signed the proposal to support the international treaty a week after assuming office on Mar.11.

The Escazú Agreement is the first agreement to protect environmental defenders, with Latin America being the deadliest region for activists, nonprofit Global Witness said. EFE


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