HIC Declaration of Solidarity with Dichato, Chile
The Habitat International Coalition (HIC) is a global network that promotes and defends the right to habitat with social justice. The Coalition is composed of social movements and organizations, support groups, activists and academics, and seeks to articulate actors that fight for the right to land, housing, and the city.
The HIC General Secretariat (HIC-GS) global coordination is located in Santiago, Chile. HIC-GS supports habitat rights processes in Chile, specifically the right to adequate housing, through its participation in the Observatory for Housing and the City, as well as supporting the National Movement for a Just Reconstruction (MNRJ). In this context, HIC-GS has collaborated in the reconstruction process following the earthquake and tsunami that struck Chile on February 27, 2010, by supporting the demands of affected communities for the application of the right to adequate housing, especially those made by the people of Dichato, a small town in the Bío Bío region. Furthermore, along with other organizations supporting the MNRJ, HIC-GS participated in the formulation of a report to Raquel Rolnik, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, to account for the slow reconstruction process in Chile and to support the organizations who are working for the affected communities.
Dichato was greatly damaged after the earthquake, which resulted in having to move over 600 families into emergency camps located in the higher areas of the town. Emergency shelters were built with light prefab wooden panels and do not protect residents from winter rains and the cold.
On Saturday July 16, the MNRJ and, in particular, the Assembly of Dichato Citizens’ Movement (MCAD) organized a protest, cutting off the road in front of the El Molino emergency camp in Dichato, to denounce the poor conditions of their temporary shelters, now suffering through their second winter, and to demand immediate answers from the government for a just reconstruction. Police officers intervened to halt the manifestation and re-open the cut-off road which gave way to several arrests from confrontations between themselves and the residents of Dichato.
Following failed negotiations with the Provincial Governor, MCAD decided to barricade the road once again on Wednesday July 20. To disperse the protest, police forcefully and violently repressed the people with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, leading to at least 6 injured. The confrontations involved the whole camp after police forces entered El Molino, soaking families, launching tear gas and stones, and shooting pellets until dawn on July 21.
HIC, as an international network fighting for the right to habitat with social justice as well as supporting the MNRJ, energetically repudiates the use of violence against inhabitants and expresses its solidarity in the fight for a just reconstruction with the participation of all those concerned.
HIC declares that in Dichato, and all other places that were affected by the earthquake and tsunami of February 27, 2010, the right to adequate housing must be respected as well as all the other rights of victims, including the right to stay in their place of origin and to not be evicted from their lands.
HIC General Secretariat, HIC-GS, Chile
Focal Point for Latin America, HIC-AL, Mexico