Latin America Green News: Chile makes polluters pay, Costa Rican partnerships for responsible fishing, and Mexico gears up for geothermal

Latin America Green News is a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America.

October 28 – November 1 2013


The Chilean Environmental Superintendent brought charges against Colbún this week for environmental infractions at its Santa María Thermoelectric Station in Coronel. The charges, which could amount to as much as USD 5 million in fines, are for non-compliance with the project’s 2007 Environmental Qualification Resolution, and in particular for failing to implement measures to address unanticipated effects of exploiting hydro-biological resources in its seawater catchment system. (La Tercera, 11-1-2013)

Chile’s Environmental Superintendent has taken significant steps against big polluters this year – 49 sanction proceedings are underway this year, with only one acquittal. The firms in question are required to invest time and money in formulating plans to correct their infractions, and in some cases must pay heavy fines. (La Segunda, 10-26-2013)   

Costa Rica

A responsible fishing project in Costa Rica is looking for private partners to contribute to the protection and development of marine areas for responsible fishing. The initiative will benefit about 700 fishermen and their families, and partners can choose the contribution plan and beneficiary that suits their interests. The initiative’s first partner, Sardimar, has donated USD 50,000 to the fishing communities of Palito-Montero. (El Financiero, 10-25-2013)

A new report found that informal recycling laborers in Costa Rica lack recognition for the important environmental, social and economic benefits that they generate. In many Central American countries, informal recycling is largely done by immigrants who need a second income, and who are therefore viewed as a social problem. Informal recyclers generally do not articulate themselves as sectors or movements in their respective countries, despite totaling at about 4 million people throughout Latin America. (El Financiero, 10-29-2013)


A plaque from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was unveiled at Cabo Pulmo National Park in recognition of the marine protected area’s status as a World Heritage site. The marine reserve is home to one of the most important coral ecosystems in the Gulf of California and is considered a conservation jewel in Mexico and the world.  The UNESCO plaque was installed as part of Mexico’s 2013 National Conservation Week and was celebrated by the local Cabo Pulmo communities that have spent over a decade restoring and conserving the Park’s vibrant coral ecosystem. The site’s conservation success is in large part due to the low-impact lifestyle of the local community which stopped fishing the site’s water when it was declared a national park in 1995.  was installed on park grounds. (Peninsular Digital, 10-31-2013)

The Inter-American Development Bank will contribute over USD 34 million to the development of geothermal energy in Mexico. Geothermal, a type of energy obtained by capturing heat stored in the Earth’s interior, will contribute to Mexico’s commitments to invest in clean energies. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will follow the Bank’s contribution with a legislative proposal to enable the private sector to invest in geothermal. Mexico’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources also indicated the country’s move toward geothermal energy at the inauguration of the International Forum for Geothermal Energy, where he emphasized the importance of geothermal not just for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but for improving Mexico’s air quality. (Electricidad, 10-30-2013, SEMARNAT 10-28-2013)

Special Feature

Francisco Mayoral, savior of the gray whale, passed away last week at age 72. When, about 40 years ago, a gray whale approached his small fishing boat in the Baja Peninsula’s San Ignacio Lagoon, the transforming experience of stroking her catapulted Mr. Mayoral into what is hailed as the greatest environmental battle ever fought in Mexico: protecting the San Ignacio Lagoon, the last pristine breeding and nursing ground for thousands of migrating gray whales, from a giant salt-processing plant. Mr. Mayoral’s sons will be taking over his mission, continuing the family whale watching business so that visitors may have the same transformative whale encounters that first compelled Mr. Mayoral to take up the fight to save the whales. (NYTimes, 10-31-2013)

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