Wednesday, February 14, 2007

True Colors of the Surf Industry: Part II

In early January I published an article here about my head-butting with a multinational surf brand that is holding a surf contest here in Chile this year. The (mis)adventures continue:

As I recounted in the previous blog, I was threatened by legal action and harrassed with expulsion from Chile for my anti-surf-contest comments and letters that "paint the company in a poor light and could be considered defamatory." I felt personally threatened and harassed by their aggressive tone and it felt clear to me that they wanted me to shut up, and fast.

Last week one of the Chilean individuals representing the surf brand's interests in Chile met a friend of mine by chance on the sidewalk in Santiago. This individual, who I will call "Frank" (name changed to protect the guilty), once again reiterated to my friend the threats to have me investigated by the Chancellor's office and to perform a full background check of my activities in Chile; he again mentioned the possibility of me being ejected from the country and of my grossly defamatory comments against the company.

For the record, I have done nothing regarding this contest since I assisted locals to succeed in blocking it from being held at a beach in the South - it's now being held at a different location in the extreme North of Chile. I do continue with my efforts for the contest to have a "green" hue to it. Unfortunately, the situation is a textbook example of "Real Life in Chile" complete with threats, rumors, lies and back-stabbing misinformation.

"Frank" happens to be rather unliked in the small fishbowl world of Chilean surfing. I've heard that his enemies are known to call up his business associates and threaten to beat him up due to his manner of conducting business. Recently I was hanging out with him while he cleaned out his car and a loaded 9mm handgun fell out onto the ground. I refrained from asking "Frank" if the gun was registered, but I think at least the safety was on. He claims it is for self-defense. I hope he is not short-tempered, although from my experience he is.

Why does a publicly-owned surf multinational choose to have such a loose cannon conduct business for them in Chile? Why do such jerks often end up in these positions of power? I really don't want to speak poorly of the company. I honestly want to work with them to improve the environmental track-record of the international surf industry and I believe that they want to do the same. But their local henchman continues with his threatening. So I continue to report it. Keep it up, "surf brand in question", and your name might make it into the international surf press in a not-so-happy-surfy manner.

I continue my efforts with the surf brand to make sure that their contest respects the beach environment and benefits the nascent local environmental movement in a substantial way.

Above: We're up to no good in Punta de Lobos. Would you trust this man with your international surf company?