Yesterday, Verónica Vilches was threatened again, and we can say that it was a death threat, because that was the reference in the graffiti that unknown persons painted on the water purification booth of her community. This in itself, both the water and the booth, are at the center of the conflict that affects Verónica, since she is the president of the APR (Rural Potable Water) since 2015, as well as an activist of Modatima (Movement for the Defense of Water, Land and Environmental Protection).
As we say, this threat is not new, because she has already been threatened even personally and verbally in the street, since at least 2017. That year and the following year, Verónica Vilches and Rodrigo Mundaca were supported by Amnesty International.
The APRs in the commune of Cabildo (Fifth Region, near Valparaíso) were initiated in the 1990s to supply water to the population. There are currently 14 systems supplying some 14,435 people. In March 2015 the APR’s are organized in the Communal Union of APR’s.
And the conflict lies in the fact that since 2000 the problems with groundwater began and in 2004 the Ligua river basin was declared depleted. These situations are affected by climate change, but above all by the proliferation of agricultural companies, which are getting a lot of power. Among them are avocado plantations, known as “paltas” in Chile, a tree that needs a lot of water. Forty percent of the avocados produced in Chile come from the commune of Petorca. This abuse of water catchment violates Chile’s Water Code.
In fact, the threats against Verónica Vilches intensified after the publication of the report “Avocados and Stolen Water” by the Danish organization Danwatch. This organization promoted a boycott campaign on avocados imported to that country from Chile. The Danish supermarkets Supermarket, Lidl & Aldi accepted the proposal not to sell avocados from Chile.
From A Planeta we express our solidarity with Verónica, the APR of Cabildo and Modatima. And we also call attention to the hidden impacts of avocados, depending on their origin, and especially, as in this case, when they are from Chile.