Chile’s Boric hails activists as he signs environmental pact

Santiago, Mar 18 (EFE).- Chilean President Gabriel Boric offered praise Friday for the efforts of environmental activists as he prepared to sign the Escazu Agreement, a regional pact intended “to guarantee the rights of every person to a healthy environment and to sustainable development.”

Chile had promoted the process that led to the 2018 accord, but Boric’s predecessor, right-wing billionaire Sebastian Piñera, declined to subscribe to a text ratified by 24 Latin American and Caribbean nations.

“It is super-clear to me that this has been a desire for which many of you have worked for a long time. During nearly all of the stops on the campaign we met with activists, with defenders of environmental rights, generally women, who urged us to sign the Escazu Accord,” Boric said.

“You, fighters for the environment, fighters for life, have taught us to persevere,” the 35-year-old who last week became Chile’s youngest president said.

Boric hailed the work of figures such as Macarena Valdes, who died in murky circumstances while battling the construction of an electric plant on the Tranguil River; Nicolasa Quintreman, a Mapuche indigenous leader whose death also raised questions; and Mapuche activist Orieta Llauca, present for the ceremony.

“I want to highlight that this accord has been driven mainly by women who have exercised the leadership across the length and breadth of Latin America,” the leftist president said.

He emphasized that the Escazu pact is the world’s first binding agreement including provisions for the protection of environmental rights advocates.

“This is the first bill we will bring to Congress and this is relevant not only because we are a governments that fulfills its commitments, but also because it reflects the sense of urgency with which we understand the climate crisis and the protection of the human rights of those who defend our environment, our home, our rivers, our coasts, and our forests,” Boric said.

The new president urged lawmakers to expedite ratification of the Escazu Accord.

“We have the challenge of together building a new model of development that allows us to live in a healthy environment, develop in a sustainable way … and to build a country where our children can grow up safe and happy,” Boric said. EFE jm/dr

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