Chilean farmer José Pizarro Montoya received 37 million pesos (about US$66,582) in December from Agrícola Nacional S.A.C. (ANASAC), a Chilean distributor of agricultural products, to settle a suit he brought over the use of genetically modified (GM) corn seed from the Missouri-based Monsanto Company. Pizarro charged that ANASAC violated its contract with him by giving instructions for planting the Monsanto corn that resulted in business losses and eventually ruined him. The Santiago Chamber of Commerce found in Pizarro's favor, and the Santiago Court of Appeals confirmed the decision in September. Pizarro is thought to be the first farmer in Chile—possibly the first in Latin America--to win a suit over the use of Monsanto's GM seeds.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN's highest court, issued a ruling (PDF) establishing a new maritime boundary between Peru and Chile on Jan. 27. The ICJ granted (PDF) Peru some parts of the Pacific Ocean formerly controlled by Chile but left Chile prosperous coastal fishing grounds. The decision ends disputes over the 14,670 square miles of abundant fishing waterways. Peru had wanted the maritime board to extend perpendicularly from where the land borders of the two countries meet the ocean, while Chile wanted the border to run parallel to the equator. The ICJ's decision represents a compromise, extending the border parallel to the equator for 80 nautical miles from the coastline and then continuing the border out to the southwest. The ICJ's ruling is final and cannot be appealed, and the presidents of both Peru and Chile have promised to honor the decision.
A wildcat strike has shut down several Chilean ports for the past three weeks, with the fruit and mineral industries claiming $100 million in losses. The strike began Jan. 3 at the port of San Antonio, over retroactive pay for lunch breaks, but solidarity strikes quickly spread to Angamos, Iquique and other ports, coordinated by a "de facto" body, the Unión Portuaria de Chile, not recognized as an "official" union. Only two major ports are unaffected, Valparaiso and Coquimbo, with the Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta) warning of "a really untenable situation for everyone working in the fruit sector." On Jan. 13, police special forces occupied the port of San Antonio, using tear-gas and water cannons in an attempt to break blockades and bring in "replacement workers." In a similar conflict that day in Antofagasta, the offices of Ultraport company were reportedly ransacked by strikers. Government officials met with strike leaders Jan. 22, but no agreement was reached. The following day, an industry-backed Comité Puertos Sin Paro (Strike-Free Port Committee) held a motorcade protest in Santiago. The Unión Portuaria has issued a call for international solidarity strikes. (Mundo Maritimo, Jan. 24; Port Strategy, The Packer, La Tercera, Chile, 24 Horas, Chile, Fedefruta, Jan. 23; SeaTrade Global, Jan. 22; La Tercera, AP, Jan. 18; EFE, Jan. 13)
The body of Chilean environmental activist Nicolasa Quintreman, an indigenous Mapuche from the Pehuenche subgroup, was found on Dec. 24 floating in the Lago Ralco reservoir in Alto Bío Bío commune in the central Bío Bío region. Prosecutor Carlos Diaz said there was no evidence of violence. The 74-year-old Quintreman, who was visually impaired, "apparently slipped and fell into the lake," he said. Together with her sister Berta Quintreman, who survived her, Nicolasa Quintreman led a 10-year fight to stop the Endesa power company from building a dam on the Bío Bío river and flooding their ancestral village. The dam was eventually built, producing the reservoir in which Nicolasa Quintreman drowned. But the campaign of peaceful protests that the sisters led in the face of tear gas, rubber bullets and illegal raids by police was an inspiration for the growth of Chile's environmental movement.
The Dakar Rally Raid motor-race across the Andes has already claimed three lives since leaving Rosario, Argentina, on Jan. 4—a motorcylist and two "spectators" who were following the race in a vehicle. Progress was finally halted five days later when residents and municipal workers in the Argentine town of Juan Alberdi, Tucumán province, blocked the road to prevent passage. (Al Jazeera, Jan. 11; EFE, El Gráfico, Buenos Aires, Jan. 9) Meanwhile, the Chilean Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the motor-race brought by the College of Archaeologists of Chile, who site damage to ancient petroglyphs in a previous Dakar Rally through the country. The group's vice president Paola González, told France24: "In Chile, a national monuments law considers this a punishable crime. Nevertheless, the destruction with impunity of our national heritage continues."
A Chilean judge found eight former members of the military guilty of murder on Dec. 23 for their roles in killings perpetrated during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The men were members of the "Caravan of Death," a military operation involved in the suppression of political opponents during the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power. The Caravan of Death was responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 people between September and October of 1973. The group travelled to at least 16 towns during that time, though this conviction only relates to killings that took place in the city of Antofagasta. The accused have been sentenced to between three to 15 years in prison, though their sentence may still be subject to appeal.
Two Chilean anarchists, Gabriel and Pablo, are touring the US and will speak in New York City Jan. 25, on "Struggling to Win: Anarchists Building Popular Power in Chile." Gabriel is a militant of the Libertarian Students Front (FEL) and a veteran of the student protests that have rocked Chile in recent years; Pablo is a founding member of Librería Proyección, a social center and bookstore in downtown Santiago. In their talk at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS), 155 Ave. C on Manhattan's Lower East Side, they will discuss anarchist spaces, murals and street art in Santiago, and the role of such projects in Chile's larger social struggle. The presentation will be followed by a reception.
On Oct. 28 the Fourth Oral Criminal Court in Santiago, Chile, sentenced Patricio Ahumada Garay to life in prison for a brutal assault on Daniel Zamudio, a gay young man, on Mar. 3, 2012; Zamudio died of his injuries three weeks later. The court sentenced three other men to prison for participating in the assault: Alejandro Angulo and Raúl López were each given 15 years in prison, and Fabián Mora Mora seven years. The sentences were the same as those requested by the prosecutor, Ernesto Vásquez, and by Jaime Silva, the attorney for the Homosexual Integration and Liberation Movement (Movilh), except in the case of Fabián Mora; the lawyers had asked for an eight-year sentence.