People protest

People from nine Latin American cities come together to raise their voice against pollution

Published: Saturday 31 July 1999

sixty-eight million people from nine Latin American cities have urged governments and businesses to work together to combat pollution. In a statement called the "Declaration of Mexico", nine cities and one of Mexico's most populous states, the state of Mexico, have urged other nations to punish car exporters while also demanding that oil companies and vehicle owners pay for health costs caused by pollution.

"The officials and representatives of the city governments which together comprise 68 million people, recognise that their populations suffer daily threats to their health and ecosystems due to air pollution," the declaration said. It was signed by officials of Mexico state. Mexico City one of the most polluted cities in the world, the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, Callao and Lima in Peru, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil, the Costa Rican capital San Jose, Bogota in Colombia and Santiago de Chile.

Santiago like Mexico City, has to frequently declare smog emergencies, cutting down the number of cars on the roads to reduce dangerous levels of pollution. A recent study of rats in Sao Paulo found that the lungs of rats were as black as those of long-time cigarette smokers. Economic development should not be allowed to affect the health of people, the declaration said. It also acknowledged that half the health problems in urban centres were due to environmental degradation. The delaration said vehicle owners should "assume their social responsibility" and contribute to the cost of improving health care, that oil producers and refineries take on the cost of ensuring clean fuel.

The statement also urged that countries exporting vehicles and obsolete environmental technology to Latin America be "morally sanctioned" and called for a "new environmental culture and dialogue" between Latin American cities to establish an alliance against pollution.

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