A community and a monastery defend natural protected area in Chile

Maria Elisa Castillo confirmed that the case reached the ears of the Vatican. "We were sent a signal," said the prioress, "but let's not go into details." And the issue closed.

While the 123 environmental observations to the El Canelo project, prepared by the residents of El Peumo, began to be studied in the offices of the Environmental Assessment System, on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - a month and nine days after the delivery of that document - began to "burn everything" in the vicinity of the convent of the Discalced Carmelites.

Alejandro Rabi was the closest neighbor to the monastery. In the criminal complaint is his testimony about the beginning of the first fire, which was collected in police report 1344/854 of the Criminal Investigation Brigade of the Investigation Police: "I felt a sound coming from outside, I went to look at the window of the bathroom realizing that it was a fire that came from the sector of the monastery from a plot that is unoccupied adjoining my land. "

And after telling that Coyanco had had" conversations "for more than six months "because there is protected flora and fauna," witness Alejandro Rubí adds: "we are strangely surprised what happened because just the fire destroyed the protected tree species, leaving in some way the free passage for this company to continue its project."

Your house and a car burned out completely. Mongabay Latam tried to get in touch with Alejandro Rabi but it was impossible. The only thing that was known is that he left the community a few months ago without warning the rest of the group.

AxelVerified account        @AxelOficial
AxelVerified account @AxelOficial

The 15 nuns came out in chalas with shovels and homemade hoses. They approached the fire enough to burn their larynx and their feet. It did little good to cover their faces with their habits. One of them suffered suffocation but managed to be taken to the hospital on time.

The next day, with the flames off, the four sides of the convent with burned vegetation were observed, according to the report prepared by the neighbors. They also claim to have found a can of buried wax where the flames started. This fire, however, does not appear in the San Jose del Maipo firefighter's blog.

The evidence of what happened is in the habits burned and in the trips to the psychologist of the nuns who for months lived with more anxiety than they were prepared to endure. Days before the fire, during that November, a letter of Energy Coyanco had arrived asking them for 3000 meters of easement for the project. To the refusal of the Discalced Carmelites, the fire continued. Inside the prayer room, the conjectures about a possible incendiary attack were unleashed. Three events followed: the purchase of fire equipment, training to use it, and a list of the steps of the fire procedure placed on a blackboard. To this is added a complaint lodged by Energía Coyanco in June 2013 against the religious and Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati (his name was removed from the complaint after the archbishop demonstrated that he was not opposed to the project).

p> Meanwhile, the company bought the property that caught fire. In statements to the Specialized Brigade in Environmental Offenses of the PDI (police report 115/851), Hernán Abad reported that at the time of the incident, the plots were already under his control. The purchase was already in process.

The fires followed. The neighbors were getting more and more training and the children tuned the nose, their small alarm system. All tuned their security protocols, they named themselves The Guardians of the Peumo, spent mornings, afternoons and nights together putting out fire. They met among the embers. And all together they put a cross to Rigoberto Catalán with his signatures and messages of affection.

In July 2014, the Environment Commission of the Metropolitan Region rejected the El Canelo and Energía Coyanco appealed the ruling in the Committee of Ministers and there was approved but the resolution called for a specific plan for the construction of the pipeline.

The legal struggle continued. The neighbors sent an appeal for annulment to the Committee of Ministers (involving the Ministers of Environment, Economy, Mining, Energy, Health and Agriculture) that did not prosper. They then tried it with a replenishment appeal in August 2016. They lost it. The project is based on the fact that it is of general "national interest" the energy that Coyanco proposes to generate, due to the energy deficit that Chile faces, and therefore, it must receive the easement.

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  • Adam Floyd