Langman: ON LINE

Chilean Perspective

 
Interviewing Chile's President Ricardo Lagos   


Jimmy Langman worked as David Brower's assistant at Earth Island Institute from 1991-1995. He helped Dave with national speaking tours, restoration organizing, and other diverse projects.

Website:   http://www.geocities.com/jelangman/


Chile's salmon still swim upstream

Bolivia's Protests of Hope

Salmon in Chile/San Francisco Chronicle

Under the Hole in the Sky

Road will finally reach Chilean village



To: <browerpower@wildnesswithin.com>
Date: Monday, June 21, 2004 10:33 AM
Subject: Miami Herald/Chile's salmon still swim upstream

Miami Herald, Jun. 21, 2004

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/special_packages/business_monday/8968833.htm?1c


INTERNATIONAL

Chile's salmon still swim upstream

The world's No. 2 exporter of farmed salmon? Chile -- and it's expected to surpass Norway
next year. But such success has not come without its share of criticism.


BY JIMMY LANGMAN
Special to The Herald

CASTRO, Chile - It is on Chiloé island that this
nation's large and dynamic farmed-salmon
industry began in the mid-1980s.

Here, in this place rich in folklore, just off
the coast of Chile's southern lakes region, it
is said that when the mythical la Pincoya, a
longhaired, beautiful sea woman, dances in front
of the ocean, the beaches and canals will fill
up with shell- and other fish.

Nowadays, says Francisco Chávez, 32, the
bountiful harvest from the sea ushered in by la
Pincoya is no more. Instead, Chile's farmed-
salmon industry has grown phenomenally,
increasing exports by more than 700 percent
since 1991.

Last year, salmon overtook copper, wood and
table grapes as the nation's largest export to
the United States, where more than half of the
salmon sold now comes from Chile. Next year,
Chile is expected to surpass Norway as the
world's largest exporter of farmed salmon.
Salmon farms have multiplied throughout the
lakes region, especially along the coast of
Chiloé.

But recently the growing industry started to run
into some significant hurdles, including studies
that have raised health concerns about farmed
salmon. Critics like Chávez, a sales manager
with Ahumados Chávez, which distributes salmon
fillet to restaurants and stores throughout
Chile, say the salmon industry is crowding out
Chiloé's fishing lanes, depleting local stocks
of fish needed to feed the carnivorous salmon
and contaminating the waters.

Chávez complains that, despite the income earned
by his small family business from the booming
trade, the success of the farmed-salmon industry
has paradoxically lowered the quality of life
for the majority of his 150,000 fellow chilotes.

''The only thing they give us are low minimum-
wage jobs and pollution,'' he says. ``Their
impact on our community has been totally
negative.''

The growing number of critics at home are
gaining momentum from similarly harsh
denunciations about Chilean farmed salmon made
abroad last year.

Government inspectors in the Netherlands and the
United Kingdom, for example, detained several
shipments of Chilean farmed salmon last year
after discovering significant traces of
malachite green, a fungicide identified as a
carcinogen that is widely prohibited around the
world. Originally developed as a dye for
synthetic fabrics, malachite green was found to
be a cheap and effective way to control
parasites on fish farms.

In September, Japanese health officials
threatened to shut their market to Chilean
farmed salmon after finding excessive levels of
the antibiotic oxytetracycline in a random
sampling. Chile ships about 40 percent of its
salmon to Japan, its leading market, where it's
often used in the making of sushi.

On most Chilean farms, pests and diseases are
treated with a cocktail of chemicals and with
antibiotics, which aren't regulated in Chile,
say industry experts. But the biggest damage to
the industry may have come from a Pew Charitable
Trusts-financed study on toxins in farmed salmon
that appeared in January's edition of the
journal Science.

The study found ''significantly elevated''
levels of 13 toxins in farmed salmon when
compared with wild salmon. Chilean farmed
salmon, in comparison with farmed salmon of
Europe and North America, was found to have
elevated concentrations of six toxins: PCBs,
dioxins, dieldrin, cis-nonachlor, total DDT and
mirex.

The study largely blames toxic contaminants in
salmon-farm feed. Its controversial conclusion
is that consuming more than one salmon meal per
month poses unacceptable risks, according to
U.S. Evironmental Protection Agency methods for
calculating safe fish consumption.

Chilean salmon businesses vigorously call such
criticism nothing but smoke and mirrors.

''Chile has very low contamination,'' says
Thorben Petersen, chief executive officer of
Fjord Seafood Chile. ``These campaigns are
misleading, even doing harm to the consumer. The
American Heart Association would recommend you
eat salmon twice a week.''

Some analysts, however, believe that extensive
media coverage of the Pew study and other
similar scientific reports are contributing to a
downturn in the U.S. demand for farmed-salmon
imports from Canada and Chile. In the first
three months of 2004, compared to last year,
government figures showed imports of Chilean
salmon to the United States down by 20 percent.

''Alarm bells have gone off,'' says Gerald
Leape, vice president of the Washington-based
National Environmental Trust. ``Americans eat a
lot of salmon. There is no doubt that they are
much more aware of the health risks than they
were, say, six months ago.''

The farmed-salmon industry is under attack
around the world, but Chile is especially
vulnerable because there are weak environmental
controls over its industry.

Felipe Cabello, a New York Medical College
microbiologist who authored a 2002 study on
antibiotics in Chilean aquaculture, estimates
that Chilean salmon farmers use at least 75
times the amount of antibiotics that their
Norwegian counterparts do because of
``deficiencies in hygiene and technology.''

Despite having been banned by Chile in 1995,
industry observers say, the fungicide malachite
green continued to be widely used up until last
year. Indeed, the two largest salmon companies
operating in Chile, Aqua Chile and Marine
Harvest, were sanctioned by the government in
2002 for using the fungicide.

Due to a lack of government resources, private
labs paid for by the companies monitor the
situation, but when a disease breaks out, the
common practice of segregating sick fish from
healthy ones is not a legal requirement. In
Canada, unlike in Chile, salmon producers are
required to control epidemics through quarantine
and are often ordered to slaughter millions of
diseased fish.

Alex Brown, director of the environment
department of the Fisheries Ministry, is
optimistic that a new inspection regime and the
phase-in this year of such tough environmental
regulations, as increased monitoring of water
quality under pens and rules on disposal of
liquid and solid waste, will help solve many
problems.

''The salmon companies are starting to comply
with these regulations,'' he said, ``and we are
now observing changes.''

Still, there is little disagreement that the
government remains woefully undermanned. Ramón
Espinoza, a regional secretary for the labor
ministry, admitted at a recent Chiloé conference
that his agency had the capacity to monitor just
12 percent of the salmon companies and that the
rate of noncompliance of labor laws by the
industry was as high as 73 percent.

© 2004 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

================================================+

 

To: <browerpower@wildnesswithin.com>
Date: Thursday, October 23, 2003 9:22 AM
Subject: Bolivia's Protests of Hope

This article can be found on the web at
http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20031103&s=langman
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Nation, Oct. 22, 2003

Bolivia's Protests of Hope

by JIMMY LANGMAN

El Alto, Bolivia

"Gringo dictador, andate a Washington," was the chant in the streets of
tens of thousands of Bolivians. It was directed at their now ex-president,
Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who resigned last week under immense pressure
from the protesters. Translation: Foreign dictator, go back to Washington.

Known here by his nickname, "Goni," Sánchez de Lozada was an inviting
target. He grew up in the United States and still speaks Spanish with an
American accent. A millionaire owner of Bolivia's largest private mining
company, as the former President of the country from 1993-1997 and
Planning Minister in the late 1980s, Goni was responsible more than any
other Bolivian for installing the neoliberal model in this country.

So it was no surprise that a protest, started in mid-September to oppose
the nation's privatization and export of natural gas, soon transformed
into a nationwide rebellion against Goni and the economic and social
malaise he did so much to perpetuate.

It was the latest, most important installment in the battle raging over
privatization and International Monetary Fund-inspired free-market reforms
in Latin America. The resignation of Goni now makes Bolivia the third
country in the region (Ecuador and Argentina are the others) in which
sitting presidents have been pushed out in as many years by a populace
angry over neoliberal policies imposed on their countries by Washington.

In Bolivia, the "gas war" was only the most recent boiling point for
resentment over the economic model. Three years ago Bolivians kicked out
the San Francisco-based Bechtel corporation after it took over the city of
Cochabamba's water system and raised prices by as much as 200 percent for
some residents.

Human rights groups say more than seventy people have been killed and at
least 400 have been injured in clashes with Bolivia's armed forces and
police. Started by Bolivia's indigenous farmers, the nationwide actions
mushroomed to include a broad cross-section of this country's 8.5 million
people: Teachers, miners, health workers, butchers, bread makers, taxi and
bus drivers, and more participated.

Although Sánchez do Lozada eventually began making concessions, his
opposition, well aware that it was during his prior administration that
most of Bolivia's state industries were sold off, was tired of the
bloodletting and broken promises and refused to relent from its demand
that he be removed from office.

The gas issue is of profound importance for South America's poorest
country. Bolivia's abundant reserves of natural gas--the country's
principal source of economic wealth--are the second-largest in Latin
America, after Venezuela. But so far, the 1996 privatization of the state
gas and oil company, YPFB, has rained down little benefit.

Employment in the heavily automated gas sector has fallen to nearly half
of previous levels. The annual royalties and tax income are estimated at
$200 million, less than 3 percent of the gross domestic product. Before
privatization, the state company earned about $300 million annually.
That's even more striking when considering that Bolivia's known gas
reserves have grown ninefold since privatization.

What's more, Bolivians perceive that their government lost its dignity by
proposing to export gas through a port in their neighbor to the south,
Chile, which snatched 108,000 miles of seaside territory from Bolivia in
the 1879 War of the Pacific and has not returned a sliver of it to this
day. Bolivians attribute many of their continuing economic development
woes over the past century to the lack of a port on the Pacific Ocean.

The nation's indigenous population, which number up to 70 percent of the
country's citizenry, are also reminded of their estimated 2-8 million
ancestors who died in the silver mines of Potosi in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. The silver was dug out and shipped abroad with only
a few wealthy Bolivian families of European origin coming away the better
for it.

This century, ordinary Bolivians want to do better with their nonrenewable
natural resources. There is a growing consensus on restoring greater state
control over the gas in order to receive a higher percentage of the
royalties (50 percent instead of the current 18 percent) and steer some
investment toward domestic gas-related projects, like supplying
energy--still lacking in many areas--to all Bolivians and creating jobs in
value-added industries such as plants to convert gas into fuel cells.

Only after ensuring a more equitable distribution of the benefits of gas
at home are Bolivians interested in entertaining offers to sell it abroad.
In the poverty-stricken, predominantly Aymara Indian city of El Alto,
where the gas protests first began, the man who began the revolt,
indigenous leader Roberto de la Cruz, said Bolivians are not just
recovering their gas but regaining control of their destiny. "We will no
longer permit the transnational corporations to benefit more than
Bolivians from our own natural resources," he said.

Gonzalo "Goni" Sánchez de Lozada personally benefited throughout his
political life from the system and contacts he cultivated. But for others,
poverty and misery persist, and it's past time for a new era. The
protests, road blockades and strikes have brought new hope to Bolivia.

===================================================+


Date: Sunday, March 31, 2002 5:07 PM
Subject: Salmon in Chile/San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle, April 1, 2002

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/04/01/MN185582.DTL

'Atlantic Salmon' a fishy tale Chilean industry criticized for pollution

Jimmy Langman, Chronicle Foreign Service


Chidhuapi Island, Chile -- Maria Mansilla
remembers when sea lions and dolphins swam
outside her front yard.

Today, Mansilla says her aquatic visitors have been
replaced by plastic bags of dead, smelly fish
produced by a nearby salmon company ironically
called Aguas Claras, or "Clear Waters."

"The sea lions have been killed and the dolphins
don't return because they are intelligent," said
Mansilla, in her early 60s, who has lived on the
serene Chidhuapi channel for more than five
decades. "They know this place is neither clean nor
safe."

Her complaint echoes a growing dissatisfaction here
and abroad over the practices of many of the
approximately 60 national and foreign salmon
companies operating in Chile, which has become
the world's second largest exporter of farmed
salmon after Norway and provider of nearly half the
salmon consumed in the United States.

Sea lions that prey on salmon pens are often killed
by company employees, critics charge. And a
report by the Terram Foundation, a sustainable
development think tank in Santiago, says 75 percent
of fish feed used at Chilean salmon farms and tons
of feces wind up in the waters below offshore pens,
depleting oxygen necessary for the survival of
surrounding marine life.

The voluminous waste and overcrowding -- in early
stages, 80,000 young salmon are typically packed
into pens of 98 feet by 98 feet -- also breeds such
sicknesses as Rickettsia (spotted fever) in the
salmon.

75 TIMES MORE ANTIBIOTICS

The foundation's report also accused the local
salmon industry of using 75 times more antibiotics to
treat diseased fish than their competitors in Norway.

"They have done it without paying the full
environmental and labor costs," said Marcel
Claude, president of the Terram Foundation. "As
the rate of return goes up, society is stuck with the
(cleanup) bill."

Not true, says Osvaldo Rosales, a senior foreign
ministry official. "The success of our salmon industry
is only due to private investment, competitiveness,
effort and good work," he said.

State officials in Alaska, where salmon has been a
bedrock business for more than a century, complain
that disparities in environmental and labor standards
make it impossible to compete with Chile's low-cost
imports. They have asked the Bush administration
to make salmon a key issue in free-trade
negotiations between the United States and Chile
set to conclude this month.

"The state has asked for a level playing field in terms
of environmental regulations -- both in their
promulgation and enforcement," said Marideth
Sandler, Alaska's associate director for commerce,
transportation and international affairs.

A state report says expanding free trade with Chile
would severely affect 120 coastal communities --
30 percent of the Alaskan towns that depend on the
salmon trade for their livelihood. The state produces
only a small volume of fillets because of higher labor
costs; it has banned farmed salmon and depends on
its supply of wild salmon.

Aside from the disparity in environmental
regulations, Alaska points to the low wages paid to
Chile's salmon workers and subsidies its
government provides.

WORKERS PAID A PITTANCE

For the past five years, Jose Roman has worked 10
hours a day, six days a week at the Mainstream
Salmones y Alimentos salmon company on
Chidhaupi island, earning $170 a month, $20 more than
the minimum wage.

"They treat us like slaves," said the father of four.
"And if we are sick, or late, or take breaks, we get
a cut in pay."

Critics blame lax government oversight and infusions
of largely unregulated state subsidies for the poor
labor conditions. By law, the state must pay 17
percent of a worker's salary in isolated regions,
where many salmon farms are located.

Such perks have caused the Chilean salmon
industry to grow by quantum leaps.

In 1990, Chile exported 23,000 tons, earning $112
million. In contrast, more than 200,000 tons were
exported last year, worth $1 billion. Chile is
expected to become the global leader by 2010.

The most vocal opponents of industry expansion are
Chilean environmentalists, who have asked
President Ricardo Lagos' government to issue a
moratorium on new salmon farming concessions --
there are currently 4,000 new requests -- until
ecological and health impacts are studied further, as
Canada did in 1995.

Ricardo Enriquez, a University of Austral professor
who is an expert on salmon farming, told Latin
Trade magazine that the common practice of
creating disease-free areas to ensure that healthy
fish are kept separate from sick ones has not been
implemented in Chile. Instead, diseased fish are
often harvested before symptoms occur and
veterinarians can treat them.

In Norway, industry observers say salmon
producers are forced to vigorously control salmon
epidemics. If the fish contract an illness such as
spotted fever, they are quickly quarantined.

Not long ago, Maine authorities ordered salmon
growers in Cobscook Bay to slaughter some 1.5
million fish to control an outbreak of infectious
salmon anemia. The bay will remain empty of pens
for 60 to 90 days.

DISEASE-LADEN SALMON

In Chile, however, diseased fish are typically given
huge doses of antibiotics, say environmentalists.
Some scientists say their overuse could cause
serious, long-term public health risks in human
consumers since "super bugs" resistant to drugs can
develop.

"It is much cheaper to feed the salmon antibiotics
than to improve animal husbandry," said Sergio
Paone, an environmental researcher in Canada.

Industry leaders and government officials say they
are working to improve the situation.

Rodrigo Infante, executive director of the Chilean
Salmon Farmers' Association, concedes that Chile
uses "more antibiotics because we still don't have
vaccines for most of our problems," but added that
"there is plenty of research going on to lower our
use of antibiotics."

The association's president, Victor Hugo Puchi,
says salmon companies are using new technologies
to control the amount of fish meal given to each
salmon and to make pens tougher for sea lions to
penetrate.

"The older farms did not have the technologies that
we are starting to use now," said Puchi.

Julio Pena, an adviser to the government's
sub-secretary of fisheries, adds that Chile recently
issued new regulations that include the periodic
testing of water quality under the pens and a
regulated system to limit the amount of feed and
feces that can escape.

"It's true that up to now there has been no
aquaculture regulations to deal specifically with
environmental issues, but these regulations will
change that, " said Pena.

In the meantime, Mansilla is losing hope of ever
seeing her island paradise again.

"They are ruining this place," she said.

==================================================+

Date: Sunday, November 25, 2001 10:35 AM
Subject: Under the Hole in the Sky - Newsweek Dec. 3

Hola, This is in Newsweek's Dec. 3 International Edition. You can see it online at

http://www.msnbc.com/news/662597.asp


Under the Hole in the Sky

A modest city copes with harmful ultraviolet rays

By Jimmy Langman

NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL Dec. 3 issue -

Maria Alvarado can tell whether it's a green-light day or an orange-light day or, as happens more frequently these days in the Chilean town of Punta Arenas, the world's most southerly city, a red-light day. Alvarado, 35, works 12-hour shifts in the streets of Punta Arenas keeping track of parked cars. She knows what it means when the sky turns eerily white and the sun's reflection off the surface of cars, windows and the sea becomes downright blinding. It means that the hole in the Earth's ozone layer is right smack overhead: it's a red-light day.

TO THE REST of the world, the ominously expanding Antarctic ozone hole was dispatched with the worldwide ban on the use of ozone-depleting substances in 1987- one of the 20th century's biggest environmental victories. To the 120,000 residents of Punta Arenas, the ozone hole is a local nightmare. Each spring it still swells to about the size of North America, just nipping the southern coast of Chile. As variable as the weather, the hole makes sudden visits to the city. For days at a time, the sun's harsh ultraviolet rays, with no ozone shield to stop them, beat directly down on residents. To the 120,000 residents of Punta Arenas, the ozone hole is a local nightmare.

A few decades ago sunburns and skin cancer were virtually nonexistent in this cloudy, windy region. The expanding ozone hole changed all that. Since 1986 Punta Arenas has had more than 150 days in which 25 percent or more of the ozone layer was absent and a handful in which the loss exceeded 50 percent. Scientists report an even higher intensity of so-called UV-B rays, a particularly carcinogenic frequency of UV radiation. Skin cancer has soared 66 percent in the past seven years. Since UV-related disorders take decades to surface, the true impact may not be known for years. "It's like being placed on top of a high mountain without any time to acclimatize," says Jaime Abarca, the city's only dermatologist. "People living here just don't have time to adapt."

For years the city was reluctant to take action, in part from fear of scaring away tourists headed to nearby penguin colonies and other attractions. In 1998 health department officials devised the "solar stoplight" to give residents warning of intense periods of UV radiation. From September through December (the spring months), they activate actual stoplights in schools and businesses, and issue updates to local newspapers, television stations and radio stations. The solar stoplight has four colors: green (normal), yellow (wear a hat and sunglasses), orange (apply sunscreen) and red (stay in the shade "as much as possible"). But the vast majority of residents ignore the color-coded warnings. Children play soccer underneath el agujero (the hole). A recent survey revealed that more than 60 percent of residents have never used sunscreen and only 42 percent even own sunglasses. Theories abound as to why people are so stubborn: they're afraid to stand out from the crowd, they can't afford hats or sunscreen, they don't believe the problem is as bad as the government says.

To raise awareness, local authorities have organized workshops for people who work outdoors. The health department's ozone-education program tells citizens that they should learn to live with the ozone hole as if "it is our friend." "There is nothing else they can do," says director Lidia Amarales. More stoplights and education projects are planned, but resources are limited.

Chilean government officials and environmental groups are calling on the international community to dole out funds for monitoring of and research on the ozone's impact on the region's people and ecosystems. "The world definitely owes some of these countries economic relief," says Marco Aurelio Pinzon, coordinator of the United Nations' Latin America ozone program. Industrial nations, after all, caused the ozone loss in the first place with their use of refrigerants, aerosol sprays, fire extinguishers and solvents made with chlorofluorocarbons, halons and other ozone-depleting substances. Although worldwide consumption of CFCs has fallen by 80 or 90 percent, the ozone hole won't begin shrinking for at least another five years and won't recover fully until 2050, scientists say. It may take longer still, say environmentalists, if the protocol isn't modified to include new ozone-depleting substances not covered in the treaty, or if the worst-case predictions of global warming are true. "Concentrations of ozone-depleting substances have been reduced and are slowly coming down," said Mario Molina, an MIT scientist who won a Nobel Prize for work on the CFCs and ozone, "but without attention to these other issues the recovery could be much slower." For many residents of Punta Arenas, the damage is already being done.

© 2001 Newsweek, Inc.
J. Langman
Calle Barcelona 2064, #202
Providencia
Santiago - Chile
tel.: (56-2) 366-9053
jlangman@netline.cl or jelangman@yahoo.com
website: http://www.geocities.com/jelangman/webpage

===================================================+

Date: Sunday, October 28, 2001 4:33 PM
Subject: Southern Highway/San Francisco Chronicle Oct. 28


San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, October 28, 2001

Road will finally reach Chilean village
Progress -- and conflict -- in unique town

Jimmy Langman, Chronicle Foreign Service

Caleta Tortel, Chile -- At the end of a boat ride
five hours down the Baker River from an outpost
along the Carretera Austral, the Southern Highway,
the tiny hamlet of Caleta Tortel appears tucked
away among the canals and fjords of the desolate
Patagonian coast.

For more than 50 years the small community,
population 448, has survived without a single
road. Instead, residents created a unique network
of wooden walkways built from the sweet-smelling
lumber of the local cypress trees.

The outside world has slowly arrived over the past
decade, dotting the landscape with cable television,
putting telephones in the main plaza and bringing
indoor plumbing and electricity to homes and stores.

Now the pace of change is quickening. The
government is building a road that will link Caleta
Tortel to the Southern Highway by the end of the
year, ending the rugged villagers' isolation.

The highway is a largely unpaved 775-mile road cut
-- at a cost estimated at $200 million -- into an
unspoiled region of snowcapped mountains,
aquamarine lakes and temperate rain forests. It was
pushed through in 1976 on the orders of
then-dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet to join long
isolated Patagonia, Chile's southernmost region,
with the rest of the nation.

Last October, more than 20 years after its
construction began, the highway reached Villa
O'Higgins, a settlement of 300 perched between the
Argentine border and the Campos del Hielo Sur,
one of South America's largest glaciers. The
highway will reach Chile's southernmost city, Punta
Arenas, in about five years.

While some hope that tourism and other business
ventures will bring prosperity, others are worried.

"People come to Tortel because it is a rare place,
where there are no roads, no cars, but cypress walkways
and tranquility," said Valeria Landero, who runs a small inn.
"This road will ruin that experience."

For years, Tortel townspeople earned a living
mainly by cutting cypress and coigue trees. The
Chilean Navy transported the lumber to market in
Punta Arenas. But these days, the timber business is
disappearing and many residents are out of work.
The highway has opened the region to tourism,
which is fast becoming Patagonia's main source of
revenue.

Last year, even without a road, some 1,700 tourists
visited Caleta Tortel, mostly in the summer months
of December through March.

A few hours by boat from the village are immense
glaciers and two national parks, while just yards
away are hiking trails with astounding Patagonian
vistas. Recently, Chile designated the village a
cultural preserve.

Mayor Jose Vera, 43, who is a big booster of the
Southern Highway, says he wants to turn Caleta
Tortel into "a 100 percent tourist economy." He is
lobbying to build a small rail system on the town's
hilltop to make it easier for visitors to see the
outlying areas.

"The road will have a big impact," said Vera. "We
need to prepare for the onslaught of tourists."

But some environmentalists are worried about the
companies that will come to exploit the area's
timber and minerals.

"The road is just not needed," said Peter Hartmann
of the private Committee of Flora and Fauna. "A
good boat can do the same thing."

Hartmann and other environmental activists say the
road could put the region's eco-tourism potential at
risk by facilitating the arrival of business ventures
that will contaminate air and water.

"The world needs to support an alternative route for
Patagonia," said Daniel Gonzales, a Chilean
ecologist, "one that is compatible with the region's
incredible landscape."

Chile is considering large hydroelectric dams on the
Baker and Futulafeu rivers. North of Caleta Tortel
near Coyhaique, Noranda Inc. of Toronto plans a
$2.7 billion aluminum reduction plant that would be
powered by another dam.

Moreover, Chilean companies have filed 26
applications for salmon farming concessions around
Caleta Tortel, according to the Terram Foundation,
an environmental group in Santiago.

Marcel Claude, president of Terram Foundation,
says the salmon farming industry is one of the
nation's worst polluters, pouring tons of salmon
excrement and blood into waterways as well as fish
food that depletes oxygen and affects plant life and
bottom eating fish.

"Chile does not have clear regulations requiring
these businesses to repair their environmental
damage," said Claude.

But Angela Urrutia, 87, who moved here in 1954,
disagrees. She and her husband, Prospero, 88,
remember the hard times and want the comforts the
road will bring.

She remembers when they lived in tents, sleeping in
pits in the ground to keep warm. Before there were
motor boats and small airplanes, villagers rode
horses to the Argentina border to buy supplies, she
recalls. The 288-mile round-trip journey took from
three weeks to a month.

"When we arrived here, we had nothing," said
Urrutia. "Now, we have everything we need, but
this road will make life even easier."

Roberto Vicera, 82, founded Caleta Tortel after
claiming land in 1947, and his 13 children and 29
grandchildren form nearly 10 percent of its
population. He marvels at the luxuries the road will
bring and says it will all be thanks to Pinochet.

"Pinochet came here in 1996 and told me personally
that he wanted a road to come here," said Vicera.

But boatman Saturuino Casanova, 56, says it will
be a sad day when the road finally arrives.

"We will lose all that made this place special," he
said.


J. Langman
Calle Barcelona 2064, #202
Providencia
Santiago, Chile
tel. (56-2) 366-9053
email. jlangman@netline.cl or jelangman@yahoo.com