Chilean Beekeepers Battle For Better Conditions

Chilean Beekeepers Battle For Better Conditions


In early January, beekeepers in Chile made headline news around the world due to their participation in direct action to call for economic subsides on honey. Chile has suffered a long term drought since 2010 due to rising global temperatures and extreme weather increases. These droughts have had devastating impacts on farmers and food production within South America, leading to widespread crop failures and food shortages on certain items of produce, including honey. As droughts have lead to a decline in crops, this has impacted the pollinator population who are unable to pollinate and in the case of bees, this has meant they have been unable to produce honey. Droughts and rising temperatures from climate change have impacted the bee population globally, leading to a decrease of around 50% in North America and 17% in Europe in just one generation.

Chilean beekeepers want the government to introduce economic reforms to help stabilise the price of honey or for subsidies to be introduced to help support them. However, until recently, the government has provided little economic help for farmers suffering from crop failures and have been actively supporting environmentally destructive policies. The government's inaction on this issue has provoked widespread unrest, leading to beekeepers heading to the capital to protest. During the protests, the beekeepers set around 60 beehives (containing 10,000 bees) in front of the palace to bring their livelihood and the issues they are facing directly in front of the government. Whilst the protest was peaceful, police attempted to move the hives due to concerns of the bees stinging members of the public and this led to seven officers being stung and taken to hospital.

In the recent elections, former student protest leader, Gabriel Boric, won a historic victory in becoming Chile's youngest ever president. Unlike the previous right-wing government, he aims to raise taxes and oppose environmentally destructive mines. Although many of the effects of climate change are irreversible, with a new government focused on equality and mitigating the impacts of climate change, hopefully, the farmers will be able to operate under better economic conditions that provide them with security.

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