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Document presented by the delegation from the Mapuche Inter-regional Council

Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.
12th Period of Sessions
July 25-29 1994

Item 5 of the Agenda

Photo: Florinda Cheuquepan


Review of Developments Pertaining to the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.


Photo: Florinda Cheuquepan

Thank you Madam Chair,

On behalf of the Mapuche Inter-regional Council, which brings together organisations, institutions, community chiefs and Mapuche professionals, I am happy to greet you and the honourable members of the Working Group, and I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address all indigenous brothers and sisters attending this meeting. I would also like to thank the Voluntary Fund which made my participation in this event possible.

Madam chair there is no doubt that Chile has achieved a significant step forward with regard to the PROMOTION AND PROTECTION of  Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, through the publication of Law 19.253 which sets norms for the protection, promotion and development of indigenous peoples.

The above mentioned law, despite its imperfections does recognize our people's distinctive identity;establishes norms to protect the ownership of land and water, and promotes the development of of bilingual culture, which is considered part of Chile's national inheritance. In addition, it outlaws all manifest and intentional discrimination against indigenous peoples because of their origin and culture;

It recognises both the need to develop a bilingual and intercultural education system and the right to be heard and consulted by institutional and governmental organs on all matters which directly affect indigenous peoples.

It is our wish, Madam Chair that all this theoretical advancement will not only remain on paper but will materialize in time, in all aspects of our peoples' life.  For this reason we urgently need:

  1. Bilingual Institutes where our Mapuche children receive a general education, in accordance with our cultural, political and social identity which constitutes a true vindication for our rights and freedoms.

  2. Budgets which are sufficient enough to develop activities leading to a genuine protection and materialisation of the rights and freedoms consecrated by the above mentioned law.

  3. True participation, consultation and approval of Mapuche people in all those matters directly relating to their rights and freedoms. This must be done directly with the communities and not with those who claim to be their representatives.

  4. The recognition and the right to participate in public posts at any level.

Briefly, we ask, Madam Chair, that there should be a real commitment by the Chilean government to implement and enforce compliance of the law. We know that the law can be nicely worded, but if it remains without implementation it LOSES ITS FORCE AND AUTHORITY and in this way frustrates the advancement of our people.

We also ask that the above commitment should include the ratification of CONVENTION 169 OF THE ILO by the Legislative Body of our country, (to which our government subscribed, according to the statement of Chile's Observer Delegate), as well the constitutional recognition of our people's distinctive identity.

We also consider it important to establish a PERMANENT FORUM within the United Nations as a place for open dialogue with equality of rights between indigenous peoples or nations and the State, as an important step towards greater openness and democratization of the UN: the base for peaceful solution of conflict.

The Mapuche Inter-regional Council welcomes the achievement made so far with regard to international law stipulated within the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples project. We reserve the right of autonomy and self-determination as a basis for our protection and development in our ancestral territory.

Finally, Madam Chair, I bring you and the Working Group over which you honourably preside, an invitation from our MAPUCHE-PEHUENCHE brothers and sisters of the community of Quinquen, Ninth Region, to attend the annual Nguillatun to be held in January 1995.  This is a religious event which will enable you to experience the reality of their lives, beliefs, advances, and the HOPE OF THEIR PRAYERS; and which your presence will deeply honour.

Madam Chair, thank you very much.

Lawyer, Head of the Legal Department
Mapuche Inter-regional Council

(*) It is with deep regret that our organisation records here the loss of our Head of the Legal Department, Florinda Cheuquepan who died on the 10th October, 1997. She will be greatly missed as one of our staunchest sisters, who ceaselessly defended whenever possible the rights and interests of the Mapuche people.

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