Minister Sandoval (RD) praises Jackson’s reappearance

Minister Sandoval (RD) values Jackson’s reappearance: “As Frente Amplio we think it is a good sign”.

The Minister of National Assets, Marcela Sandoval, in the midst of the controversies over access to beaches, rivers and lakes, also admits that it is important that citizens take care of the places to which they have access. In passing, she also defends the proposal for environmental evaluation 2.0: “In no case does it mean relaxing the laws”, she remarks in response to Greenpeace’s criticisms. Likewise, she values the reappearance of Giorgio Jackson and assures that she never participated in any of the questioned meetings with businessmen in the house of Pablo Zalaquett.

Marcela Sandoval, Minister of National Assets and currently the only representative of Revolución Democrática in the cabinet of President Gabriel Boric, analyzes the details of a new summer season and the challenges posed at this time by the problems of access to beaches, rivers and lakes.

In passing, he comments on the decision of former minister Giorgio Jackson to take legal action against a businessman, the UDI and socialist senator Fidel Espinoza. “He is in his legitimate right to initiate legal actions and at least as Frente Amplio we think his reappearance is a good sign”, he affirms in an interview with BioBioChile.

Likewise, in the midst of the controversy over the meetings of ministers with businessmen in the house of the lobbyist Pablo Zalaquett, he categorically discards having attended this type of meetings. “The rules in the State are very clear, and at least from Bienes Nacionales we are complying with them”, he emphasizes.


-To begin with, I would like to ask him about a very popular topic every summer: access to the beaches. We see new episodes in which someone thinks he owns the access and does not allow access to the sea, lake or river. At first glance it seems to be a phenomenon that occurs more and more frequently.

It is rather seasonal. It increases as we approach the summer, the vacation season. And it is also exacerbated when there is a viral report. We saw it some years ago in Lake Ranco and now with Lake Budi. In general, there is an increase in consultations and complaints. And what we did this year was to get a week ahead and start with an informative campaign, inviting people also to inform us about accesses that they had not noticed or if they had doubts about the obstacles, the charges that are eventually made. And we put, as a message, that the beaches are yours all year round. In the background, it is also necessary to remember that it is not only in the summer season where this concern must be expressed, but all the year round. Moreover, because it does not have a purely holiday focus. Also here the accesses are necessary for fishermen, for tourism, for economic activity. It is not only for those who go to enjoy the beach, rivers or seas.

-Apart from the figures and the control, do you think there is a hint of classism in this type of confrontation? In many cases it is seen that it is people with high purchasing power who do not want common people in “their backyard”.

I would say that a phenomenon has been occurring that was exacerbated by the pandemic and that has to do with the fact that many people wanted to leave the city and go to the countryside or to the coastal areas. And what has effectively happened there is that there are more properties installed in remote areas. So, obviously sometimes there is a collision of rights in terms of the fact that you want to enjoy alone, there is a rather individual interest, but the truth is that the privilege that you have of having a house with a view of the sea or access to a river does not give you the right to block access to that place to another person. So, that is what we have wanted to encourage here. It’s also about creating a healthy coexistence.

Several of the accesses that I have visited have been on neighboring or private land. So, there you have to generate a mutual agreement, a conversation with the owner of the property or the house next to it, to generate an access. And in general I would say that the conversation with private parties is positive. So, not because of a viral complaint that is exacerbated we are not going to be able to generalize, but they are simply examples of what not to do.

-On the other hand, being the devil’s advocate, is it legitimate for these people to be upset about the care of these spaces? Because sometimes it happens that those who visit them leave a lot of garbage and do not take care of the environment.

Well, that is real. I think it is a message for all citizens that we, the authorities, should emphasize. If you go to a place and there are no containers to leave your garbage, your waste, take your waste with you. I believe that it is a permanent message, because although the municipalities or the maritime governments sometimes install devices, in areas that are more distant this does not happen. So, citizen responsibility is very important. In other words, one thing is how to guarantee access and another is how we also protect and maintain a healthy coexistence, and part of waste management implies that, of course.


-In the case of Lake Budi, which went viral in the first days of the year, did you have a dialogue with the protagonist of the video and did you try to apply any sanction for her attitude?

There was a conversation on the part of the team of the Seremi de Bienes Nacionales with her and with another neighbor, making her see that they could not prevent others from accessing that place. Measures have also been taken because sometimes you buy a property and then you extend your domain, especially in remote areas. There we measured, we checked if the perimeter that corresponds to this lady was complied with. That is why I said that this was a good example, because it is not the reaction one would expect. These are situations that happen, and the legal actions to be defined by the affected parties are also their responsibility. I spoke with one of them, with one of those affected, and the truth is that what she was looking for was to achieve this access, to inform the citizens, and also to show that no person in Chile can be the object of discrimination and impediment to access a place like this.

-There have also been cases of seizures of public lands, such as one that was evicted a few days ago in the vicinity of Lago Ranco. How do you work to ensure that this eviction is effective and that they do not seize it again?

It is a very complex issue for Bienes Nacionales, because we are responsible for safeguarding public property, we have a cadastre of public property throughout Chile, and we do act through inspection, but also through complaints, but we do not act alone. So, once we identify an irregular occupation, we inform the respective Regional Presidential Delegation, and they study the case, summon the Carabineros, or whoever corresponds. I have had to go to the north, for example, evictions that are more complex, and where the Investigative Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office also act, because immediately a file and an investigation is opened, especially on issues that have to do with security, beyond precarious settlements.


In general, Bienes Nacionales has as a practice within its protocol to act before an installation occurs, a settlement itself, and why is that? Because it is not up to us to refer these people, and there are other ministries that intervene, and we have to act very cautiously, especially when sometimes there are families that arrived at that place, and for various reasons, sometimes witches and unscrupulous lot owners who sell land, in short, and who lease fiscal land, arrived there.

So, in general, we act when there is land that has been demarcated, occupied, but not necessarily for residential purposes, but like what happened in Cerro Chuño, in the sector that we evicted there was evidence of storage, of illegal sales, that was the type of evidence that was found. So, we acted there because, evidently, they are occupying public land. In general, they are not violent evictions, they are planned with a lot of time, but of course, they are not exempt from some type of conflict in the place when they occur.


-Another milestone of this week in your portfolio has to do with a place that was very emblematic during the social outbreak, such as the Carabineros church, which has now been handed over to the Archbishopric of Santiago. What are the implications of this transfer? How did the idea come up?

This church is very old, it dates back to 1876, it was always in the hands of the church, and from there in 1981 it was handed over to the Carabineros. Afterwards, with the social upheaval, it was damaged at least three times, fires were identified and, well, the deterioration is huge. After that, last year, in April 2023, the Carabineros decided not to continue with that destination, mainly for economic reasons, since the cost of reconstruction and repair was very high, and they decided to dispense with its use and it returned to the Treasury. And there we, as Bienes Nacionales, together with the Presidential Delegation and the Municipality of Santiago, evaluated different security measures, which the neighbors were also asking for, because as this place was abandoned, it became an irregular occupation, there were also sources of fire, micro-trafficking, in short. And we, as Bienes Nacionales, put up a perimeter fence and paid for a security device, which gave the neighbors the guarantee that they could move around the place in peace.

And we began to have conversations with the Archbishop of Santiago, who approached Bienes Nacionales, showing interest in recovering that church, which is historic for them, for the church, and also thinking about restoring it and, evidently, that it would once again have the character for which it was built decades ago, in 1800. And then we decided to give this permission to the archbishop and they now start a path towards the reconstruction. We, as Bienes Nacionales, are going to head a working group, because, obviously, this is a long-term use permit, but it is still a fiscal asset. So, we cannot abandon how the church is going to be rebuilt.

-This week the President presented the project of intelligent system of permits and environmental evaluation 2.0, you were present. From which scope does the Ministry of National Assets collaborate in these proposals?

We are signatories, several ministries are signatories. Although this legal initiative is led by Economy and Environment, what we are always responsible for is to provide fiscal land for productive projects. That is to say, for example, in the lithium strategy, we are asked for fiscal land polygons that could be suitable for this. The same for energy, for renewable energy storage, also for the green hydrogen strategy. These are just a few examples, but we are always providing fiscal land for productive process concessions. So, for us, when a project is presented and enters National Assets, there are several factors that come into play: one of them is the environmental evaluation, but also the relationship with the indigenous communities. We do indigenous consultation as Bienes Nacionales so that these projects have a basis and no resistance in the community, so that all the rules are respected in the end.

What these sectorial permits seek, this update led by Economy and Environment, is not to make the norms more flexible, but rather to reduce the bureaucracy, because many times the administrative flows make the terms very long. We are at another work table looking, for example, at maritime concessions and Culture is working on other procedures related to the Monuments Council. These are the procedures that take the longest time and our government has seen in this an opportunity to reduce the time and this obviously reactivates the economy.

After the announcement, groups such as Greenpeace questioned the proposal. Was it tailor-made for the industry, as they say?

I would insist on one point. Here the mandate has been not to make the environmental regulations more flexible, but rather the issue here is more about administrative management, about how we can effectively react and work much more efficiently. And this does not mean in any case to relax the laws that today protect environmental issues.


-On a more political level, it was a week of tensions between sectors of the ruling party after the legal actions of Giorgio Jackson. You in particular, as the only DR minister in the cabinet, how have you perceived this situation?

Our government has had a very serious opinion regarding all the issues that for months have been denounced in relation to the case of the agreements, they have been judicialized, all the background information has been delivered. Former Minister Jackson is undoubtedly a very important figure for Chilean politics and above all for our sector, for the Frente Amplio. He is in his legitimate right to initiate legal actions and at least as Frente Amplio we think his reappearance is a good sign.

What do you think would be the most appropriate way to settle these tensions, both in the pro-government parties and within the government itself?

Tensions of what kind?

Les tensions qui sont apparues entre le Frente Amplio lui-même et le PS, par exemple en ce qui concerne les poursuites judiciaires contre le sénateur Fidel Espinosa. Comment sortir de cette discussion et se recentrer sur l’unité du parti au pouvoir ?

C’est plutôt aux dirigeants des partis politiques d’en décider. Je suis ministre d’État et l’une des choses sur lesquelles le président a insisté lors de chaque réunion de notre cabinet ministériel, c’est que pendant le temps qu’il nous reste en tant que gouvernement, c’est la gestion qui doit guider notre travail. Nous devons montrer au pays que nous sommes un gouvernement efficace, que nous faisons bien les choses, dans le plan d’urgence pour le logement, dans les priorités de la réactivation économique, et dans ce sens, l’objectif que nous avons en tant que ministres est la gestion, une gestion orientée vers les citoyens et vers les priorités que les gens ont déjà. D’autres prises de position d’une nature différente relèveront de la responsabilité des partis, qui font partie de la coalition.


Une autre controverse à laquelle plusieurs ministres ont été mêlés concerne les réunions avec des hommes d’affaires. Que pensez-vous, en tant que ministre, des réunions qui ont eu lieu dans la maison de Pablo Zalaquett ?

Le gouvernement a été très clair sur le fait que tous les ministres doivent répondre aux règles, et les ministres qui ont participé à cette réunion ont déjà donné des explications. Dans mon cas, je reçois beaucoup de lobbying de la part de différentes autorités, d’entreprises, d’organisations, étant donné la nature de ma fonction, et c’est ce sur quoi je me concentre, et c’est ce que nous faisons ici, au ministère national.

Avez-vous été invité à ces réunions ?


Naturellement, cette situation a suscité beaucoup de critiques dans certains milieux. Considérez-vous, comme le disent les critiques, qu’il s’agit d’une sorte de cuisine ou de quelque chose de ce genre ?

Je ne me prononcerai pas sur ce point, mais j’insiste sur le fait que les règles de l’État sont très claires et qu’au moins à Bienes Nacionales, nous les respectons. Ici, à Bienes Nacionales, nous respectons les mesures de probité et de transparence, et c’est ce que le gouvernement et notre président ont fait dès le début.


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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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