Mapuche: reclaiming their land and restoring their Nation

Mapuche: reclaiming their land and restoring their Nation

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John Ahni Schertow
June 5, 2007
 

Here’s a few recent stories focusing on the current work of the Mapuche People…

On May 16, 2007, fourteen Mapuche activists temporarily occupied a property owned by Fernando Léniz, one of Chile’s most important forestry leaders…

From the Santiago Times – Mapuches entered Léniz’s property at 8 a.m. and left it at 5 p.m., after government officials assured that the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Conadi) would meet with them to discuss their grievances. Juan Huichamán, spokesperson for the Mapuche community, explained that “the community mobilized because Conadi failed to respond to their demand for land.” (source)

Also recently, representatives from eleven Mapuche communities filed an appeal to protect the territory of the Lleu Lleu lake from mining exploitation. They say the mining activity threatens the Mapuche culture, and that it will change the natural balance by damaging places of cultural interest.

From Global Voices Online – “Another case [like this] is the construction of the Ralco dam by the Spanish company Endesa, where 381 indigenous families were relocated from an area that is now flooded. All of the cemeteries and ancestral ceremonial sites were lost.” (source)

Finally, just a couple days ago the Coordination of Mapuche Organizations (COM), an alliance representing some 35 Mapuche communites, temporarily broke off communications with the Chilean government after President Michelle Bachelet’s perceived failure to adequately address their demands.

From the Patagonia Times – “The government’s announcements were important, but we also need (the government) to clarify what procedures (it plans to follow), to clarify how it plans to advance on these issues that are so important for Mapuche rights…”

Continued participation, COM explained, would simply “support indigenous bureaucracy rather than our autonomous (political) participation.”

COM’s announcement came just one week after the highly influential human rights advocacy group Amnesty International (AI) released its latest annual report. Included in its rundown of human rights problems in Chile, AI drew attention to continued mistreatment of the country’s indigenous people (PT, March 23). (source)

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