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France, April 1979

The new indigenous law of 22 March constitutes yet another antidemocratic and demagogic attack on fundamental rights by the Chilean military government. A collectivity has been denied the fundamental right to participate and decide on measures affecting it.

The dangers of the recent law were pointed out by Mapuche representatives of three provinces in September 1978. It implies the loss of lands into the hands of powerful economic groups and the loss of traditions and culture through the disintegration of Mapuche communities, an increase in poverty and finally the extinction of the Mapuche as People.

According to the new law, the Mapuche Indian who accepts individual ownership of his land ceases to be considered a Mapuche, which shows that the purpose of this law is to put an end to the existence of our people.

It is an antidemocratic law, because it has been arbitrarily imposed, since the Mapuche communities did not have a copy of the text, nor did they participate in drawing it up; moreover, it ignores the principle of majority consent, since a demand by one individual can cause the breakup of a Mapuche community.

It is a demagogic law, because the dictatorship claims that the law implies technical, economic, social and educational aid for the Mapuches, with the aim of eradicating poverty, when in reality it has blocked credits and technical assistance, and medical services have been commercialised, student grants and hostels have been stopped, and even official statistics show a decrease in agricultural production in the provinces of Malleco and Cautin, inhabited by large Mapuche peasant groups.

We denounce this trick, which is part of an attack on state holdings and an economic policy designed to hand everything over to the monopolies, and which subjects the Mapuches to legalised usury.

We call on all organisations and individuals who defend human rights to denounce this new law, which represents a serious threat to the Mapuche peoples' survival.

We call on all to protest in the strongest terms to the Chilean government, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible for this law.

Mapuche Exterior Committee

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