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6 de febrero de 2013 | | | | |

Cooperation to Exploit?

Interview with Lucio Cuenca, of the Latin American Environmental Conflicts Observatory

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After more than 20 years of neoliberal policies in Chile, backed in the over-exploitation of natural resources and of policies that have inhibited democracy and social participation, “we have a social awakening of communities who are facing the overwhelming machine of destruction of territories”, said Chilean activist Lucio Cuenca, of the Latin American Environmental Conflicts Observatory (OLCA).

Cuenca was interviewed by Danilo Urrea, one of Real World Radio’s correspondents during the Summit of the Peoples in Santiago de Chile, that came to an end on January 27 and took place in parallel to the European Union - Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Summit. The activist said that currently, in the framework of the relationships between EU countries with Latin American countries and in international summits such as the official summit that just took place in the Chilean capital, there are agreements to deepen the extraction and exploitation of common goods to finance the European crisis and maintain the living standards of industrialized countries. “For instance the case of Germany, which in the past years has entered areas of extractivism where it wasn’t present before. (...) Today, it is expanding towards an extractivist economy in our territories in a direct way", said Cuenca.

The member of OLCA said this to Real World RAdio while the international media covered the signing of an agreement in Chile between Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, to facilitate the participation of Germany in mining exploitation in Chile. “This comes with a cooperation program that especifically focuses on mining and incorporates as one of its new pillars towards developing countries the work with German transnational companies”, said the activist. The idea is to “protect those investments, disguising them as cooperation
policies”, he added.

As in the past years, corporate social responsibility has become one of the strategies of large transnational corporations and governments that have inhibited and captured the actions of communities in defense of their territories. According to Cuenca, this is another of the critiques to be deepened with the new German cooperation policy. The cooperation program involves several countries of the Andean area, such as Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia and will be implemented in Chile, from where the extractive mining model is promoted. To Cuenca, these strategies “are the new sides of the expansion of the European economy into our countries, that seek to expand markets and include natural resources, common goods, that hadn’t been commodified before”. “This model is looking to expand that limits”, he added.

In the interview with Real World Radio, Cuenca assessed the Summit of the Peoples in a positive way. He said that what happened with police repression at the end of the peaceful mobilization of January 25 in Santiago, as part of the activities that day of the Summit is a clear example of the current situation of Chile. “On the one side, a schizophrenia where the aim is to expand the model and the answer is to criminalize, to increase repression and on the other side we have communities that are awakening after a long neoliberal sleep. We hope this can be seen in the changes we need to achieve in the future”, he concluded.

Photo: Cintia Barenho (CEA/MMM).

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