Invitation to Mission in Chile. Reflection No7

28th August 2017 - by Nathalie Marytsch

La Ligua 1

John Waddoups shares here his reflections on the invitation to mission programme while the group is finishing their 10 day journey in Chile.

On Wednesday we were driven by Helmut to La Ligua river in Comuna Cabildo about 130 kilometers from Santiago. We met Rodrigo Mundaca an Agricultural Engineer. He explained how powerful landowners had planted Avocado and citrus fruit trees which drained the water with illegal drains from the La Ligua River.
This caused the river to dry up and local people and farmers did not have enough water for their needs. Their human rights were being violated buy not having access to clean water. The government did provide water from tankers but the local people had to buy it.
The environment was also being damaged as there was not enough water to sustain plant life. The river had been dry for 18 years, local children had not seen running water in the river and it was being used as a rubbish dumping ground.
We also met Veronica the director of a pumping station which had government permission to be operative. This provided water for for about 1000 people. Yet she was being taken to court by the government over this legal water pumping station whilst powerful local farmers were being ignored over illegal drains for their plantations. Local people also blamed Veronica if there was no water even though she was a volunteer who worked nearly every day including major holidays. We also met Claudia who operated and maintained the Pumping Station.
After this we drove to a local restaurant where we ate and watched a DVD in which famous actors spoke out about water rights of local people and SECO.
We then drove into the higher Andes to look at free flowing tributaries which did not reach the main river. This was because the powerful farmers piped the water to their plantations. The land was very green and fertile due to the tributary in stark contrast to the dry river Valley below. We also met a local farmers who had even been shot at for protesting against illegal draining of water sources. Rodriguez himself has been taken to court and fined over 20 times.
We departed very much well informed.The Golden Thimble

The Golden Thimble of the La Luiga River

The river is dry the Avocados cry
As the exporters sink another illegal drain
The river is dry the farmers cry
As their land is wrung dry
The river is dry the people cry
As they wash in a basin of water
The river is dry the children cry
As only rubbish flows today
The river is dry the visitors cry
And cry and cry

It’s the Martians, climate change the politicians cry
As they change the laws to suit exporters.
Why?
The Golden Thimble flower gives me hope
As do Veronica, Rodrigo and Claudia
In court for their legal drain
The river is silent
Why should I be.