Chile: Activists 'create nation' to protect glaciers

Activists hike through snow with Republica Glaciar flag Chile has 82% of South America's glaciers - but no laws protecting them

Environmental activists have created an independent "glacier nation" in Chile to persuade the government to protect precious water reserves, it seems.

Activists say legal loopholes and disputed sovereignty in an area between Chile and Argentina allowed them to create Republica Glaciar, according to The Santiago Times.

The new "country" issues its own passports and encourages people to become citizens by pledging their allegiance online. Republica Glaciar's first citizen is Chilean poet and Nobel Prize nominee Nicanor Parra.

Chile has 82% of South America's glaciers - a main source of fresh water. But it is one of the only countries without laws to protect them, and "has allowed mining companies to become their main threat", says Matias Asun, head of Greenpeace Chile.

But others say pro-glacier legislation would close major mining projects, threaten thousands of jobs and slow down foreign investment. Last year, the Canadian company Barrick Gold said it would temporarily halt its controversial Pascua Lama project in the Andes. Its potential impact on glaciers caused public outrage in Chile.

Activists hoist flag of Republica Glaciar Activists hoist the flag of Republica Glaciar

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