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Chile: Neighbors and Netizens Unite to Save Concon Dunes

Ever since the company Reñaca Concón S.A. (Reconsa) started its efforts to build a real-state complex on the delicate and unique ecosystem of the Concon Dunes [es] neighbors began their struggle to prevent this development. On December 27, 2011, their worst nightmare became a reality: the construction company began erecting a fence around the protected area.

But they weren't alone this time; the Chilean cyberspace was filled with protests against the closing and construction of up to 20 luxury apartment buildings [es] in the zone, thus adding to the claims made by the 50 neighbors that protested at [es] the building site.

Twitter user @Perro_del_Lucho [es] warned:

Amigos, que sea TT por favor #noalcierredunar GUAU. Empresa Reconsa está cerrando el Campo Dunar en estos momentos. Guau

Concon Dunes. Photo by Flickr user Claudio Alvarado Solari (§Claudio§) (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Friends, lets please make #noalcierredunar [no to closing the dunes] a TT GUAU. The company Reconsa is closing the Dune Fields as we speak. Guau

Javier Sanfeliu (@sanfeliu) [es] said:

No deja de asombrarme la falta de criterio, etica y moral de ciertas empresas. Pónganse al día, pulpos. #noalcierredunar

The lack of judgment, ethics and moral of certain companies doesn't cease to amaze me. Get updated you octopuses. #noalcierredunar

Pablo Andres Roldan Lopez posted on Facebook [es]:

Hoy es un día triste para Concón mi ciudad hermosa, es un día triste para Chile, es un día triste para el alma, es un día de realidad dura y pura, el dinero manda sobre todo, el dinero todo lo puede, el dinero es lo importante, lo que mueve al mundo, lo que enciende los corazones… hoy es un día triste, se cierran las hermosas Dunas de concon [sic] para ser hundidas bajo costosos edificios, edificios de lujo que solo habitarán aquellos que viven en el mismo círculo de aquellos que construyen en las dunas… y al pueblo, a los niños le quitarán los atardeceres sobre las duna [sic] mirando el sol… menos mal que la estrella está lejos y no se puede comprar.

Today is a sad day for Concon, my beautiful city, it is a sad day for Chile, it is a sad day for the soul, a day of harsh and pure reality, money rules over everything, money can do anything, money is what matters, what moves the world, what ignites the hearts… today is a sad day, the gorgeous Concon Dunes are being closed to be buried under costly buildings, luxury buildings that will be inhabited by the same circle of those who build on top of the dunes… and to the people, they are taking away the sunsets over the dunes for the kids, staring at the sun… thank goodness the star is far away and cannot be bought.

Some netizens gave away names of politicians or politician's relatives involved in the project: The Twitter account of the political program Difamadores (Slanderers) [es] (@difamadores) denounced the participation of a former minister:

¿Quién está detras [sic] del cierre de las Dunas de Concón? RE: 1 de ellos es el (DC) Edmundo Pérez Yoma #noalcierredunar

Who's behind the closing of the Concon Dunes? RE: 1 of them is the [politician] of DC (Christian Democratic Party) Edmundo Perez Yoma #noalcierredunar

While blogger @donliebre [es] announced the relationship of President Sebastian Piñera's cousin:

y quien era el abogado de la inmobiliaria y representante de los socios de RECONSA?: Herman Chadwick http://tiny.cc/q01tc [es] #noalcierredunar

and who was the lawyer of the real-estate firm and representative of the RECONSA partners?: Hernan Chadwick http://tiny.cc/q01tc #noalcierredunar

The demonstrations managed to stop the project for a while when some protesters tore down the fence, but the neighbors and activists demand the President expropriate the 19 hectares of the sanctuary or widen the protection to the whole ecosystem [es]. However, this last option could be the most difficult, as it was previously explained by Elda Arteaga in a post on the website Nuestro.cl [es]:

Como esto es de privados la única solución es que la Municipalidad les de unos terrenos a cambio, con una plusvalía equivalente.

Since this is private property, the only solution would be for the Municipality to give lands in exchange with a similar capital gain.

Dunes… (no + real state) Picture by Flickr user la yegua (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On the other side, Reconsa's general manager defended the project in an article published by El Mercurio de Valparaíso [es]:

[…] quedará “rodeado por una avenida con un muro y/o reja perimetral que, por una parte, permitirán la contemplación del santuario, y por la otra, su protección, imposibilitando su acceso libre desde dicha avenida”. […] ha sido minuciosamente estudiado por los profesionales contratados por la empresa, de tal forma que el santuario se transforme en un valor para la comuna y la Región”.

[…] [the dunes] will be “surrounded by an avenue with a wall and/or fence on its perimeter that will, on one hand, allow the contemplation of the sanctuary, and on the other, its protection, by making it impossible to access from this avenue”. […] this [project] has been thoroughly studied by professionals hired by the company, so that the sanctuary can become an asset for the community and the Region”.

Red Duna Libre [Free Dune Network], a non-profit organization, published the video Let's save the Concon Dunes [es] with the objective of stopping the real-state development and protect this ecosystem. The video explains the environmental importance of the zone and summarizes how the lobby managed to reduce the area protected as a nature sanctuary [es] from 55 hectares to 19.5.

Also, Red Duna Libre (@dunalibre) [es] has already collected more than 50,000 signatures against the real-state project through this link. Follow the hashtags #noalcierredunar or #dunaslibres [#freedunes] for more reaction.

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