Showing posts from January, 2013

Life and death in Chile’s ‘sacrificial zone’

(Originally published by the New Internationalist)

Looking out over its desolate shores, it is hard to believe the town of Huasco was until relatively recently a bustling fishing port, where dozens of colourful boats proudly lined the docks. Today would seem the perfect day for fishing. The sea is calm and the weather hot, yet there are no fishermen in sight, and a solitary industrial cargo ship dominates the otherwise empty waters. 
The absence of fishermen here has a simple explanation; there are no longer any fish in the sea. On a mound a few hundred yards away a thick plume of white smoke rising from the chimney of an enormous thermoelectric power plant offers a clue as to what became of the town’s fishing industry. Just behind it, the entry gates to the vast dumping grounds of an iron refinery display the words “Look after the flora and fauna.” A casual inspection of the surrounding area suggests there is little nature left to protect.
The inhabitants of northern Chile’s Huasco pr…