Airport closed by Islanders
In August this year (2009) Easter Islanders, who are mostly of Polynesian origin, 'closed' their island for 24 hours, blocking the one airport. Their purpose was to demand limits on immigration from Chili and on the length of time tourists might come and stay.
The were demonstrating because of the impact of tourism and population growth on the island. The French Press described it as a fear that their 'island paradise' might be lost, but we should remember that the Rapanuans, as the inhabitants of Easter Island probably prefer to be known, clawed back from the brink of extinction after overpopulation, nearly reduced their island to a desert in the 18th century, forcing some of their ancestors to survive by cannibalism. If this island has returned to paradise status, it has been dearly-won.
It is ironic that the island that the world knows as the most famous case of overpopulation should even have to ask for control over their population numbers, but inspiring that the Chilean government has recognised this right in a country not known for its attention to human rights.
Many ordinary people and committed activists are despairing of parliamentary democracy in its current form but say “What else can we do?” So many things just happen without us feeling that we have had any say at all or that our concerns have been completely ignored. Many of our friends are deeply disheartened. We say the community can no longer rely on our elected representatives to make objective and reasonable decisions on our behalf and we have to do something different. At the moment it is democracy in name only. We really have no control over our elected representatives from one election to the next, and we no longer have the time to be patient with them for 4 years at a time.