The Governance of the Lacustre Corridor of La Araucanía, made up of the municipalities of Villarrica, Pucón and Curarrehue, expressed their outrage with the Government, which they accuse of delaying the health measures requested for the eclipse of the sun to be lived on December 14 in the region.
A delegation of 12 members of The Governance – made up of academics, municipalities and entrepreneurs – met in Santiago with the Undersecretary of the Interior, Francisco Galli and the Minister of Health, Enrique Paris, who were told that there is no plan to prevent the “event of the year” from becoming a nightmare.
On the occasion, the leaders asked the authorities to close the corridor four days before the eclipse and to install sanitary cordons 24/7 to have control of who enters the lake area, where hundreds of thousands of people are expected to witness the astronomical phenomenon.
And although Minister Paris was open to the request and gave instructions to the mayor of La Araucanía, Victor Manoli, the guilds claim that there is an inexplicable dissatisfiation and delay by the regional authority to specify the instructions at the central level.
Lack of concrete actions
Nestor Fiorentini, a member of the Governance of the Lacustre Corridor, argued that “we realized – having been in the Metropolitan Region – that the Government, including the mayor of La Araucanía, has done absolutely nothing to take health action during the eclipse, there is no government plan for the eclipse and we believe that we are on the brink of a health catastrophe.”
The leader added that “from Monday to this Sunday there have been about 37 new cases in Pucón, the commune is full of people without any control, people come and go all day. We are asking the Government for health cords now, we took the destination protocols developed by professionals from the University of La Frontera and went to ask them to take health measures for the eclipse, which to this day do not exist. We still don’t know what the government’s plan is to welcome hundreds of thousands of people and prevent more people from getting covid-19.”
For Fiorentini the arrival of tourists in the area without a health check puts the summer season at risk (January, February and March), because the cases of Covid-19 could increase considerably by pushing the communes back to quarantine.
“A health crisis will be generated and the blame will be on the inhabitants of the Lake Corridor (Villarrica, Pucón and Curarrehue), so people should know that we’ve been calling for a plan for the eclipse for weeks and there’s nothing, we feel absolutely abandoned by the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jesica Fernández, another member of the Governance, said that “we went to Santiago with a petition for the Government in order to take care of our destiny, letting it know that within weeks of the eclipse there is no health plan prepared. Undersecretary Galli said the mayor was summoned to La Moneda and received direct instructions from President Piñera, we were told that the mayor would quote us to a working meeting on Thursday, but nothing has happened.”
Fernández stated that “on Wednesday they will have a briefing, but believes that the Government is not taking seriously the municipalities or the guilds, which represent the whole community. There is such a desidia, that it is not sizing what comes with the eclipse, that it is a catastrophe if sanitary cords are not installed 24/7 now.”
In this regard, Julio Pablaza, also a member of the Governance, said that “we see that this problem comes upon us, that every day that passes we are closer to having a health catastrophe if no action is taken.”
The leader asserted that “there is nervousness in the community (…) It does not seem to us that the regional authority will take a week to schedule a technical meeting which is very important to us. These days in Pucon, cases of Covid-19 contagion have increased, as have In Curarrehue, which is very bad news.”
Tourist protocols are urgently needed
During the meeting in Santiago, the leaders gave the authority the protocols of destination developed by the University of La Frontera (UFRO) and which seek to extreme security measures before Covid 19 during the coming summer.
Julio Pablaza, spokesman for the Pucon Tourism Guilds Association, said: “We want to make known to the minister the complex ifthe economic situation that the community lives in the lake corridor, the need to be able to work this summer and to have the right health measures to make Pucón a safe tourist destination.”
Tourism in Pucón contributes 54 per cent of the commune’s gross domestic product, according to a report prepared by the UFRO But the lack of tourists in the last eight months has hit various workers since working, so common pots were important to survive.
Patricio Saavedra, representative of the tourism guilds in Villarrica, stated that “today the economic situation is calamitous and it would be a tragedy if tourists could not enter the area this summer. Today companies are ghosts, a study we produced revealed that in March 90 percent of the companies in the commune engaged in tourism would be broke if this is not reactivated.”
That’s why they hope to control the arrival of tourists with health cords in the lake corridor to monitor the entry of the hundreds thousands of people who will arrive in the area to witness the eclipse of December 14.
Nestor Fiorentini of the Association of Tourism Guilds in the lake area stated that “a report to which we had access indicates that on the day of the eclipse 370 thousand visitors will arrive and if this happens without any health control it could be a catastrophe for the 100 thousand people who live in the three communes of the corridor”.
Patricio Saavedra added that “it is essential that a PCR examination is requested to enter the area during the eclipse, the Government has the C19, which is the health passport and technology today allows to determine the capacity for each city, in this way effective health control is established.”