“When the fire arrived, it left us with our arms folded, we came to a place where there were ashes and debris,” recalls very emotionally as if she were reliving those tragic moments Mónica Sepúlveda, president of the Santa Olga Neighborhood Council.
Before 2017, Santa Olga was a town that few knew that was part of the Constitución commune in the Maule region, but after that summer, almost four years ago, it became the symbol of the devastation caused by a mega-fire, where nearly five thousand people who inhabited this area witnessed how the flames and winds consumed, minute by minute, more than a thousand homes and, with it, the dreams of their families.
Today, while Mónica walks the streets of Santa Olga, she comments on how the reconstruction process has been, encompassing the structural, but with special emphasis on restoring the quality of life of its inhabitants.
Providing the basic infrastructure for the families of this town was the starting point that brought together authorities, private companies and the residents themselves. Thus, houses were built, the Enrique Mac Iver Polyvalent High School, streets, roads and two social headquarters, but there was still a lack of an outdoor meeting place for the families of the area.
That is why today the Santa Olga Urban Park was inaugurated, which CMPC in conjunction with the architect Matías Zegers and the San Sebastián University, carried out the architectural design and construction of the place that has an area of 1.5 hectares. In addition, it has a central square that connects the public with trails, roads that lead visitors to playgrounds, exercise areas, an amphitheater and rest areas and viewpoints.
Present at the inauguration ceremony of the Santa Olga park were the governor of the province of Talca, Felipe Donoso; the seremi of Housing and Urbanism, Gonzalo Montero; the mayor of the municipality of Constitución, Carlos Valenzuela; the regional director of Conaf, Roberto Mena; the president of Empresas CMPC, Luis Felipe Gazitúa; the general manager of Empresas CMPC, Francisco Ruiz-Tagle; the executive director of the Reforestemos Foundation, Suzanne Wylie; the executive director of Desafío Levantemos Chile, Nicolás Birrel; and the former Undersecretary of Public Works and former National Coordinator for the Reconstruction of the areas affected by the 2017 forest fires, Sergio Galilea.
The president of Empresas CMPC, Luis Felipe Gazitúa, explained that “for our company, being part of the reconstruction of Santa Olga is a concrete fact that illustrates our commitment to our neighbors, especially in times as complex as this. During these years we have admired the resilient capacity of neighbors to get ahead and get back on their feet after a tragedy like this. For us it is a pride to have been able to carry out this beautiful challenge hand in hand with the community ”.
“When we said that we had to make the tragedy an opportunity, we never imagined that we would reach a level of reconstruction as important as the one Santa Olga is experiencing today. With the arrival of so many companies, especially CMPC, which was the first to send a positive message. Where we stand here, with a park that we never imagined, is synonymous with joy and a great example for the country. This is associativity, to believe the story, it is corporate social responsibility in a tangible way and in a way as beautiful as this ”, explains Carlos Valenzuela, mayor of Constitución.
The park also has on its esplanade a large wooden walkway 5 meters wide and 80 meters long, which ends with a 40-meter-high ledge that overlooks the Purapel river ravine. Added to this, the landscaping design is one of the distinctive characteristics of this space that took recovered plants and herbs. Zegers explains that in parks there are always different situations that one encounters, more intimate places “with the difference that these places in the project are intimate gardens of the houses that existed before the fire.”
During the ceremony, native trees of the region were symbolically planted, as the Park was also reforested with these species from CMPC’s Carlos Douglas nursery, located in the Biobío region.
This last stage had the support of the community. “We come together here to help and to cooperate. Tomorrow we will see that little tree and say: here we were and we help to do this,” says Mónica Panchilla, a resident of Santa Olga.
“This is spectacular. People in the summer season are going to come here with their tables by the river, to eat a barbecue ”says Marta Rivera, a resident of Santa Olga, who values the fact that the park has been formed hand in hand with the locals of the sector.
The emphasis on continuing to expand the native forest plantation in the region happens because, as was demonstrated in this incident that impacted the region, the fires affect everyone and do not distinguish species.
For this reason, on the occasion CMPC signed an agreement with the Reforestemos Foundation to help protect the environment, biodiversity and the care and preservation of native vegetation.
The executive director of the Reforestemos Foundation, Suzanne Wylie, pointed out that “climate change has meant an evident increase in the risks of generation and spread of forest fires, which strongly affect the natural heritage of all, without any discrimination. As Fundación Reforestemos, we are convinced that multisectoral collaboration is key to preventing them, where each actor contributes with their experience and expertise ”.
For his part, Luis Felipe Gazitúa, president of Empresas CMPC pointed out that “at CMPC we take our commitments very seriously, just as we do with the tough task of preventing and fighting rural fires, as well as in the recovery and restoration of the areas affected by them. A living example of this is the Los Ruiles Reserve, where our forestry team has worked hard to recover it, even doubling its surface and exceeding 300 hectares of protected area in the Maule region to date ”.
The executive also took the opportunity to announce the company’s fire plan for the 2020-2021 season, which will feature a central forestry brigade for the first time this year that will have the Metropolitan region as its operational base. This central brigade will be at the disposal of emergencies and will also carry out prevention and education activities so that citizens can help protect metropolitan parks and hills.
To this is added that CMPC will continue to collaborate in fire fighting with more than a thousand brigade members and a score of aircraft.
Arriba Todos Juntos
Since the coronavirus pandemic settled in Chile last March, María del Carmen Leal, from the Laja commune, Biobío region, spent five months without being able to open her business, Librería Leal.
This store that began 55 years ago as a magazine exchange space, managed to transform itself into what is known today as a bookstore: it sells everything from school and office items, and gifts.
But its success was slowed by the arrival of the new virus. “We cut the workday in half and we had to fire a person”, she confesses.
But today she sees the situation with more optimism. Librería Leal from Laja already has all the sanitary measures to avoid possible infections by coronavirus and to receive its customers again.
In August, María del Carmen was contacted by CMPC executives to present to her the Arriba Todos Juntos (Together we stand up) plan, which consists precisely in supporting small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and tourism agents from the Biobío and La Araucanía regions with hygiene and personal care implements, as well as signage with messages that reinforce prevention protocols, such as frequent hand washing, mandatory use of masks, social distancing, among others.
This plan seeks economic reactivation in each area in a safe way, both for entrepreneurs and their clients, when the authorities allow the reopening of commercial and tourist premises.
The project will benefit more than 500 entrepreneurs from 14 communes in the aforementioned regions, these being: Carahue, Toltén, Contulmo, Lumaco, Cañete, Angol, Victoria, Collipulli, Loncoche, Temuco, Los Ángeles, Laja, Nacimiento and Renaico.
Also, the initiative will be replicated in the Puente Alto commune in the Metropolitan region in the coming weeks.
Thus, Arriba Todos Juntos -which includes a budget of about US $ 1 million- contemplates three stages: “Preparation to go out again”, which seeks to provide entrepreneurs with elements of protection and prevention of contagions; “Entrepreneurship Plan”, which considers providing tools and opportunities for job and business development; and “Destination Plan”, which aims to invite citizens, both local and from the rest of the country, to rediscover the aforementioned areas, highlighting their tourist and commercial attractions.
On October 1, at the Ristorante Patrimonial and Emporio Montecorone in the town of Capitán Pastene, Lumaco commune, La Araucanía region, -one of the enterprises benefited by the program-, CMPC officially launched Arriba Todos Juntos.
The ceremony was attended by the Mayor (intendente) of the La Araucanía region, Víctor Manoli; the Governor of Malleco, Juan Carlos Beltrán; the Mayor of Lumaco, Manuel Painequeo; the Undersecretary of Tourism, José Luis Uriarte; the Seremi of Economy, Francisco López; the Seremi of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Enzo Cortezzi; the Regional Director of Sernatur, César González; the manager of Public Affairs and Sustainability of CMPC Cellulose, Augusto Robert; representatives and partners of the Capitán Pastene Chamber of Commerce and Tourism; and benefited entrepreneurs.
Like María del Carmen Leal, Cecilia Lagos from Cabañas Alto los Corrales from Angol; Isolina Huenulao from Viña Wuampuhue from Carahue; Dania Morales from Etnoturismo Huapitrio from Collipulli; Silvana Benítez from Bistró Casa Kortwich from Contulmo; Práxedes Zapata from Cabañas Peumayen from Toltén; Marlon Herrera from Bon Appetit Trattoria from Victoria, among others, are some of the beneficiaries of the program. Learn about their stories at the Home of our website.
Arriba Todos Juntos is one more initiative that CMPC has developed since the beginning of the year in the context of the coronavirus crisis. Here is the detail of each one of them.
Masks for Latin America
In order to be able to contribute to the care of people in the countries that it is present, especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, CMPC has donated 16,450,000 surgical-type masks in the different Latin American countries in which it operates.
In Argentina 2,800,000 masks have been donated; in Mexico 2,000,000; in Peru 3,400,000; in Brazil 4,500.00 and in Chile 3,750,000.
In the case of Chile, of the total donated to date, 3 million were delivered to the National Supply Center (Cenabast) in order for the institution to distribute them in public health centers and entities that it deems appropriate. Another 400 thousand were delivered to the National Electoral Service -through the Cenabast- to be distributed among table members of the plebiscite carried out on October 25 -as well as 42 thousand bottles of alcohol gel-, for the care of the participants in the electoral day. And another 350 thousand masks have been donated to the Chilean community, such as in Puente Alto, in the Metropolitan region, where they were delivered to the neighborhood councils and nursery homes in the commune; to the Ministry of Justice to be distributed among the Gendarmerie health officials; to the Teletón Foundation to distribute to families throughout the country; and in the southern area – where CMPC has operations – to different locations in the Biobío and La Araucanía regions, including Los Ángeles, Angol, Nacimiento, Collipulli, Mulchén and Negrete.
Another initiative that seeks to help those who have been most affected by the coronavirus crisis is “CMPC Solidaria”.
The project consists on delivering meals to elder people, many of whom are currently having difficulties to buy their basic needs, in the communes where CMPC has an industrial and forestry presence in southern Chile.
The solidarity meals were held from Monday to Sunday during the months of July and September, in 6 communes of the Biobío and La Araucanía regions, being prepared every day between 60 and 150 servings per commune. This adds up to more than 55 thousand meals in these three months. Likewise, solidarity meals are also being distributed in the Puente Alto commune and also in the Bajos de Mena sector in that same commune of the Metropolitan Region. Between the two initiatives, 300 thousand lunches have been delivered to date.
In addition, the project seeks to reactivate local small and medium-sized enterprises, for which reason for the food preparation service there were hired local cooks and for the distribution of the meals, school buses and carriers, all of them from each sector, thus reaching directly to the home of each older adult.
All CMPC Solidaria processes have compliance with strict protocols for the prevention of infections, either by CMPC volunteers and contracted enterprises.
Also, the company will donate 200 thousand lunches in the Bajos de Mena sector in a period of one month.
The contribution consists of food for 30 common pots that will distribute nearly 6 thousand daily rations to residents of the villas belonging to that sector.
Supporting the population at risk
In addition to this initiative, in order to help in taking care of the most vulnerable population in the context of the health crisis caused by the Coronavirus, CMPC, also through Softys, made a donation to the National Service for the Elder People of Chile (SENAMA) consisting of 100,000 units of Cotidian adult diapers and one thousand units of 1-liter Elite Professional alcohol gel bottles.
SENAMA will be in charge of distributing this aid, which will be delivered by the public entity in the most affected regions, such as La Araucanía, Biobío, Ñuble and Metropolitan.
In addition, on April 28, at the Chilean government house, the company made its contribution to nine residences of the National Service for Minors (Sename), which consists of hygiene and prevention elements, such as alcohol gel, surgical gloves, surgical masks, lab coats and face shields that will benefit 251 highly vulnerable boys and girls from Sename homes in the communes of Puente Alto (3 residences), Los Angeles (4), Collipulli (1) and Cañete (1).
Following this line, on April 30, the company also donated 30 liters of liquid soap, 30 liters of alcohol gel, 60 rolls of paper towels, 100 packages of baby wipes, 200 rolls of toilet paper and a thousand masks to the Municipality of Talagante, in the Metropolitan region.
Also, CMPC donated 100,000 diapers to the Teletón, to be distributed among the families of the institution, and the company announced a new contribution consisting of 20,000 masks to support the work of the Telethon professionals, especially for when they return to face-to-face care in their rehabilitation centers.
Likewise, at the beginning of September, the company made official its contribution to enable and improve the conditions of the Residencia Espejo Transitoria (nursery home) of Puente Alto, a place where elder people may reside temporarily while they are quarantined for coronavirus, and thanks to the donation of CMPC will have an equipped, comfortable and safe space.
Protecting individual collectors
Also, CMPC, committed to Chile’s paper and cardboard individual collectors, donated 250 hygiene and personal care kits together with the Ministry of Environment and the Fabril Development Society (Sofofa).
Sanitizing streets and public spaces
On the other hand, continuing with CMPC’s commitment to its neighbors, the company will take sanitary measures in the Chilean communes of Puente Alto and Buin (Metropolitan region); Santa Juana, Santa Bárbara, Quilaco, Contulmo, Tirúa, San Rosendo, Nacimiento, Laja, Los Ángeles and Mulchén (Biobío region); Angol, Los Sauces, Collipulli, Ercilla, Victoria, Nueva Imperial, Cunco, Chol Chol, Carahue, Toltén, Loncoche, Cañete, Gorbea and Villa Mininco (La Araucanía region), such as disinfection in public spaces, entrances of health centers, entrances of the plants of the company, and in the busiest streets.
Also, together with Desafío Levantemos Chile, the company enabled eight “Mobile Clinics” from April to September, an initiative that sought to decongest the public and private health network in the La Araucanía region, in addition to the Puente Alto district in the Metropolitan Region, through vans that allowed to take medical assistance to private homes, obtain medicines, get vaccinated against flu and even do coronavirus tests without having to leave their homes.
In total, the Mobile Clinics traveled more than 34 thousand kilometers, which is equivalent to the round trip distance between Chile and Japan.
Field hospital in southern Chile
The company enabled its former offices in the city of Los Angeles, Biobío region, in Chile, transforming them into a field hospital with 116 beds and medical equipment to serve low and medium complexity patients free of charge.
On June 4, CMPC handed over to the regional health authorities the premises located on Avenida Alemania.
The dependencies were enabled with clinical spaces, a resuscitation room, staff residence, interior cladding, clinical and administrative furniture, as well as bathroom fixtures and accessories, with the provision of hot and cold potable water.
Committed to our workers
As a company we have also taken different measures and have generated various actions that allow us to take care of our workers and also continue with the production of our products that today are so necessary for people.
The continuity of our operations is of utmost importance, since the products we manufacture – such as cellulose, tissue products, cardboard, wood, among others – are key to the elaboration of articles that are so necessary for society today, such as masks, diapers, toilet paper, food or medicine packaging, etc.
The company has deployed progressive internal management protocols since February to ensure full compliance with the recommendations of health authorities worldwide and locally. These protocols have been regularly updated according to recommendations of the World Health Organization, health authorities in each of the countries where the company operates and the best international experiences.
In fact, preventively, we are taking steps to operate with as few people as possible, aware that minimizing the risk of exposure and contagion requires avoiding as much contact as possible between people.
The care and protection measures for the entire CMPC team, in all the countries where we operate, include the implementation of a home office for administrative personnel -a measure that has been carried out since March 16 and which has had very good results-, adequacy of operational shifts to minimize contact within our plants and implementation of protocols for cleaning, food and transport services.
Among the measures that have been taken in each plant are intense and permanent tasks of sanitation, control that conglomerations are avoided in public spaces, distance demarcations have been established to avoid physical contact between collaborators, an increase in the number of buses so that less people congregate within them, among others. New measures are constantly being analyzed to be incorporated and thus decrease the risk of contagion from the virus.
Without the daily work of all the collaborators who continue to work in the factories – under all the safety and hygiene measures imposed by the protocols – it would not be possible to continue the operations to maintain the productive chain at the service of society. To them, thank you very much!
Additionally, we have taken other precautionary measures that help minimize opportunities for contact with the virus. Domestic and international travel have been cancelled, privileging virtual meetings, either by phone or videoconference. Event attendance has also been suspended until further notice.
To keep the company’s employees informed, CMPC’s CEO, Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, has conducted Dialogues via videoconference, accompanied by Dr. Carlos Pérez, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the San Sebastian University, and specialist in infectious diseases, with collaborators of the different plants and offices of the three business areas.
In addition, from the Dialogues, the CEO visited CMPC Cellulose plants in southern Chile (Pacífico, Santa Fe and Plywood) to personally that the safety and hygiene measures are being complied, as well as he had some time to talk to the workers and to answer to their doubts or concerns.
The company remains very attentive to the evolution and impact of Coronavirus in the different markets where it operates, in order to generate the measures that allow to face this situation quickly and responsibly.