Declaration of the Water Carnival - Conay, Chile

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

After six years of fighting against large scale mining contamination in the Huasco valley, the first water carnival was organised in Conay, concluding with the blockade of the Chollay-Conay intersection – the access road for the six new mining exploration companies that are currently working in the area, without community consent.

The blockade arose after three days of discussion and planning between organisations and neighbours of the valley, of Chile and the world, worried about the pillaging and the contamination of the planet’s waters. More than fifty people are participating in this initiative, taking monitoring and control of activities in the area into their own hands, given the total illegitimacy of organisations such as CONAMA (the Chilean National Environment Commission) after having approved such projects as Pascua Lama.

The occupation has been warmly welcomed by the local community, because it responds to their desire to respond collectively and deliberately to take direct action against the abuses of the transnational corporations.

This action is not just intended to prevent access for mining vehicles, but also to promote the visibility of the communities’ position, to improve access to information on the projects that they are trying to implement in an authoritarian manner, and to stimulate other communities to mobilise, reinforcing the conviction that it does not matter what the authorities and the companies say if the organized community says the opposite. For the defence of the valley and in respect for life, culture, traditions, and self-determination, the entrance of mining companies to the peaks of the Tránsito valley is prohibited indefinitely starting Monday, January 22, 2007.

When the authorities do not protect the people,

When the companies only seek money and ignore the good of the people,

When the mass media lie and hide information,

When all the powerful ones are in favour of the death of the valley and the destruction of all that we are...THE COMMUNITY MUST STAND UP AND SAY “ENOUGH”.

This is why more than fifty people lit a small fire in the Chollay-Conay intersection at 10:00 pm on January 22, 2007, preventing the entrance of any mining vehicle to the summits of the Tránsito valley with banners, placards, and flyers.

We have already succeeded in turning back a machine that was on its way to the make roads in the highlands. The work is just beginning and we are now setting out to create a state of awareness and permanent alert against the abuses of large scale mining. We know that if we are few they will trample over us, but if many fires join together and we dare to struggle together in the defence of our fields, water, land, and families, they will not be able to pass.

The struggle belongs to all of us and for this reason and we invite you to inform yourselves and join this effort in defence of the valley and for the protection of our culture and identity.