Bristol, February 25, 2001
A Mapuche Delegation will be meeting the Chilean Ambassador to the United
Kingdom tomorrow, February 26.
The Mapuche Delegation will be headed by Reynaldo Mariqueo from Mapuche
International Link (MIL) based in England, and Marcelo Calfuquir from the
Indigenous National Commission of Chile, as well as representatives from
various Human Rights and indigenous peoples' support organisations.
The Delegation will give the Chilean Ambassador a letter to be handed to the
President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos.
The letter addressed to the President of Chile expresses the grave concern of
the Mapuche about the critical situation developing in their territory. This
is a direct consequence of the judicial system's failure to render justice
and restore to the Mapuche Nation land seized by forestry enterprises and
large estate owners. "The mobilisations will not be stopped by mere welfare
promises, by professions of good will or vain negotiations with spokesmen of
the National Indigenous Board, who have no effective power. The Mapuches want
justice and they want it now!" says part of the missive.
The Chilean state is responsible for the degrading state of poverty in the
majority of Mapuche communities. According to official statistics, the life
expectancy for the Mapuche is 20 years less than for the Chilean majority,
the illiteracy in rural sectors reaches 20% and infant mortality rates are
three times higher than the national average. This predicament is directly
linked with the seizure of our land and resources and the failure of the
Chilean state to acknowledge it.
The sense of betrayal of the Mapuche Nation arising from this manifest
injustice, and the loss of faith in the Chilean authorities and the
legitimacy of a racist and unfair judicial system, are profound. They are
being impelled to increase mobilisations and to use all nonviolent methods at
their disposal to defend their territorial rights and the environment.
The territorial conflict began more than a century ago, when the Chilean
Republic, against the norms of international law and its own constitution,
invaded by force of arms the then independent Mapuche Nation, as recognised
by Spain from 6th January 1641, in the treaty of Killin.
The effective policy of the current Chilean Government is to criminalise the
whole Mapuche movement, particularly the leaders and lonkos (traditional
authorities) who demand justice and freedom, and fight for their rights as a
people and for the recovery of their territories: the State Internal Security
Law is applied against them, they are repressed by violence and hundreds have
been detained, while others have had arrest warrants issued against them.
There is severe police control south of the River Bio-Bio, a territory that
has been transformed into a testing-ground for the Chilean espionage
services; there is surveillance of the leaders, they are photographed and
filmed, and their telephones tapped. Many communities live under what is
effectively a state of permanent siege, with many Mapuche prevented from
moving freely over the territory of their ancestors, in blatant violation of
their elementary human rights.
Despite the denunciations of torture and abuses of police power, to date no
one has been investigated or brought to justice; without public
accountability, the police act with impunity, under a cloak of institutional
racism. The need for the creation in the Wall mapu (Mapuche territory) of a
new police institution that genuinely represents both communities, Mapuche
and Winka (non-Mapuche), is increasingly evident, as it is the only way for
the police to be seen as legitimate by the Mapuche, and not a mere instrument
of racist oppression in the service of the forestry companies.
Today, the Mapuche people demands:
The immediate and unconditional freeing of all Mapuche political prisoners; a
halt to the application of the State Internal Security Law, and the
simultaneous demilitarisation of the territory of the Mapuche nation;
The implementation of concrete measures by the Chilean State to provide
compensation to the Mapuche people within the framework of a wide-ranging
programme of "truth and historical reparation";
Ratification of Convention 169 of the ILO (International Labour Organisation);
Respecting of Indigenous Law Nº 19.253, in relation to the implementation of
infrastructure and development projects, particularly the use of sacred
Our organisation joins the other Mapuche organisations and communities and
publicly declares its unconditional support for the territorial claims of the
Mapuche people and the right to exercise their autonomy and
self-determination in their ancestral territory.
1641 - 2001: 360th ANNIVERSARY OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE MAPUCHE NATION
Mapuche International Link
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