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Chile: Human Rights Defenders of Water At Risk

    Friday, April 7, 2017 - 12:49

    Image Courtesy of Pressenza.

    Members of the Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and Access to Water are facing death threats because of their work defending the right to water in Petorca Province, central Chile.

    On 28 March, an unidentified person threatened human rights defender Rodrigo Mundaca Cabrera, calling him on the telephone and stating: “We are going to kill you motherfucker, we will kill you”. Rodrigo Mundaca is a member and spokesperson of the Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and Access to Water (Movimiento de Defensa por el Acceso al Agua, la Tierra y la Protección del Medio Ambiente, MODATIMA) in Petorca Province, Chile.

    He and other MODATIMA members have faced threats in previous years. In March 2015, unidentified people physically attacked Rodrigo Mundaca from behind. Verónica del Carmen Vilches Olivares, another member of MODATIMA, told Amnesty International that unidentified people have verbally threatened her from inside vehicles without license plates, saying: “When are you going to stop with the fucking water?” The last threat she reported receiving was on 10 March 2017.

    Members of MODATIMA are afraid to leave their houses because they fear these death threats will become reality. Rodrigo Mundaca told Amnesty International that defenders of water in Petorca face serious obstacles being hired and are losing their jobs because of their work opposing the illegal extraction of water in the region.


    Please send a fax, email, tweet or letter without delay. (Postage is $2.50.)

    * Call on the authorities to provide protection measures to Rodrigo Mundaca Cabrera, Verónica del Carmen Vilches Olivares and other members of the Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and Access to Water, in consultation with them and in accordance with their wishes.

    * Insist that they initiate prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into the threats made against members of the Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and for the Access to Water, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice.

    * Urge them to publicly recognize the important and legitimate work of human rights defenders working to promote the right to water.


    Address your messages to

    Minister of Interior and Public Security:

    Mario Fernández Baeza     

    Palacio de La Moneda

    Santiago de Chile



    Twitter:          @min_interior

    Salutation:     Dear Minister /

                          Estimado Señor Ministro


    Attorney General:

    Jorge Abbott Charme

    General Mackenna 1369

    Santiago, Región Metropolitana



    Twitter:          @FiscaliadeChile

    Salutation:     Dear Attorney General /

               Estimado Señor Fiscal


    Please send a copy to

    His Excellency Alejandro Arnaldo Marisio Cugat

    Ambassador for the Republic of Chile

    50 O'Connor Street, Suite 1413

    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2

    Fax:                 (613) 235-1176



    The Defence Movement of Earth, Environmental Protection and Access to Water is working to make visible the illegal extraction of water as well as its impacts on rural communities in Petorca Province, central Chile, a region that has been seriously impacted by water scarcity. Rodrigo Mundaca lives in the area and in 2012, he began to denounce politicians and businesses’ illegal extraction of water in the zone. As a result, authorities initiated four criminal cases against the defender. One of the cases resulted in a sentence of 61 days in prison, suspended under the condition that Rodrigo Mundaca would present himself monthly to the Chilean police for a year.

    Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for human rights defenders working on issues related to the environment, land and territory. These defenders are frequently the targets of threats, monitoring and surveillance and arbitrarily subjected to criminal proceedings for their activities. They are criminalized, stigmatized, declared the enemies of development and even accused of terrorism. Excessive force is used against them, for example during evictions by state security forces or to disperse public protests.

    Chile is not an exception to this pattern. Amnesty International has confirmed the existence of intimidations against attorneys providing legal assistance to Indigenous Mapuche human rights defenders (see Amnesty International’s Speak out for defenders! online platform: and attacks on Mapuche human rights defenders (see: 

    Water Defenders are Under Attack in Central America.

    Find out how you can support them now.


    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email In the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 82/17 Chile”.


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