September 3, 2015
This week representatives of the Mapuche community in Temuco wrote an open letter to Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, asking her to remove Chilean military forces from Mapuche territory, and to restore ancestral lands to the community.
Wallmapu, Temuco, August 27, 2015
Madame President, Michelle Bachelet J,
We, the Mapuche communities that are participating in the occupation of the building to the CONADI at Temuco adhere to this mobilization, we are writing this letter that we address to you through our spokesperson.
We are communities that, historically, have struggled, with our ancestral lands usurped by the violence of the Chilean State. This mobilization has already lasted 10 days, and we have had in response from your government the same lack of willingness to engage in dialogue which shows that the Chilean State has always been against our fundamental rights as Mapuche people. Our exhortation to engage in dialogue is serious and must inevitably address the following topics.
I - The demilitarization of our territory:
Since the invasion by the Chilean state, you have used violence to occupy our territory. We, the Mapuche communities, are not "followers of violence" as generally claim all supporters of the policies of the Chilean State, irrespective of their political power. As you have discovered for yourself during the time that you have governed Chile, repression and persecution have not succeeded in stopping our struggle.
Mapuche political prisoners are for us heroes of the resistance, and peace must necessarily be reached involving their release. Institutionalized violence has been aimed directly at children, women and elders, violating all their human rights. The measures adopted by the new intendant Andres Jouannet Valderrama to strengthen the vigilance groups and reinforce the militias of landowners show that the political situation is not equivocal. It seeks to highlight the persecution of Mapuche, while remaining on the margins of legality. To establish a agreement between the parties, your government must determine the withdrawal of all its forces enforcement of our territory.
II - Restitution of Ancestral Territory:
Territorial demands are today part of the process of recovering the ancient lands of which we have been robbed. It is necessary to definitively indicate that an institution such as CONADI or any other institution of the same nature will not resolve the territorial demands but that a new form of agreement should take place between the Mapuche people and the Chilean State. The agreement must be based on truth and respect for our institution; otherwise if any other measure or practice will based on the logic of domination. It is not a question of looking for land to transfer Mapuche families in need of help to, but it is about having the right to live in the territory which traditionally belonged to us, and which today is usurped by forestry companies and landowners, who have no right to be there and who rely on protection of the Chilean State.
The aforementioned themes satisfy a distinct way of developing the political and territorial claims of our People Mapuche Nation. We, the Mapuche communities and organizations, this fully espouse this vision and express our desire to take this route.
To deal with the previously reported issues, we urge the Minister of Social Development to travel in the area called Malleco, where he can witness the climate of aggression to which we are subject, and he can see for himself, on the ground, that the situation of land claiming will not stop, and that the failure to establish serious and unconditional bridges of understanding, will intensify the problem. During his visit, he will be able to conclude that is important for the Chilean State to address this reality as a state policy and not as a public security policy or in terms of development assistance or political participation in the structures of the state.
If the state does not accept this forum for dialogue, the situation will remain as it is, and we, the Mapuche, will not have no option but to carry out the withdrawal of police forces from our territory by our own strengths. This is to contain and preserve the physical and psychological integrity of our families together, because we can not continue to accept the aggression suffered by our relatives and even less accept the humiliation of our people.
We, communities and organizations, we declare ourselves responsible for this letter and for these principles from which we move towards our success.
COMABE – Belgium
To hear Mapuche advocate Jaime Huenchullán discussing the matter, please click here