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Mapuche Permanent Mission to the United Nations
56, Rue de Monchoisy, 1207, Genève, Switzerland
Tel: +41-(0)22-320 4974 - e-mail: mision.mapuche.onu@gmail.com

Communiqué - Geneva, August 15, 2013

First of all we want to express our deepest condolences to our Brother Rodrigo Melinao’s family, to his Rayen Mapu community and to the Mapuche people as a whole.

We want to address the authorities of our Mapuche nation and especially those who invested us with the ancestral titles of our ancient culture as Ambassador and Deputy Chief of the Mapuche Mission to the UN. We thank you most sincerely for the trust placed in us to lead the first Mapuche Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

The aim of this document is to describe the difficult situation in which our ambassador Flor Calfunao Paillalef finds herself. As many will remember, a few years ago Flor’s entire family was detained. With the imminent threat of also being arrested she applied on November 17th 2008 for political asylum in Switzerland. However, the Swiss government felt that her case was not serious enough to qualify for consideration as a political refugee and on June 11th, 2013 her request was rejected, giving her until August 31st to leave the country.

As is widely known, the Calfunao Paillalef family has been historically persecuted for their firm stand in defence of the rights of their community and of the Mapuche people to live in accordance with our traditions and in our ancestral territory. Between 2000 and 2011 almost all her family was detained, including her two sisters and nephews. The matter came to such an extreme that her niece Relmutray moved to Switzerland to seek temporary political asylum, having been left alone after her entire family was arrested, and the continued police raids on her community.

Lonko (Chief) Juana Calfunao (Flor’s sister) has been the victim of countless acts of violence including her house being set on fire three times. In one of these acts of brutal violence the body of her uncle Basilio Coñonao appeared charred amongst the ruins. Chief Juana has also been tortured by the Chilean police, such severe torture was inflicted to the extent that in May 2000 she suffered an miscarriage. Today her sister Juana Calfunao is free after being jailed for four years for "public disorder" and "offending the authorities". There was every reason to think that if Flor Calfunao had been with her family in the community she would have also been arrested as were her sisters and the rest of her family.

The establishment of the Mapuche Mission to the UN

At the request of a significant number of Mapuche authorities of the Wallmapu, on September 20th 2011 the Mapuche Mission to the UN was created. The idea gained momentum, bearing in mind that for a number of years a small number of us were working in various bodies of the United Nations in Geneva, informing the UN on the human rights situation of the Mapuche people. It was concluded that the interests of the Mapuche people would be better defended by combining our efforts to avoid duplication and inefficiency.

To develop our diplomatic efforts with the necessary endorsement and support, our Mapuche authorities invested, according to Mapuche culture and tradition, Flor Calfunao and Reynaldo Mariqueo with the titles of Apo-Werken and Futha-Werken respectively. This decision of the establishment of the Mapuche Mission and the bestowing of these titles was ratified in a general assembly that took place in Temuco City, Araucanía on July 21st 2012. Following the establishment of the Mission new Mapuche authorities and leaders have expressed their support.

In order to legitimize the Mapuche Diplomatic Mission we set out to use as legal tools all the mechanisms our ancestral authorities left us and the legitimate rights which help us as a people, including common laws, treaties, agreements, the 1860 constitution and so on, that is to say the historical events occurring before the forced annexation of our territory by the states of Chile and Argentina. During our research we found out what many Mapuche already knew: that all legal mechanisms mentioned above are legitimate under international law and are still valid.

Legal Bases on which the Mapuche Mission is built

The creation of the Mapuche Permanent Mission to the UN is aligned with modern international standards, which recognize the right of all peoples to autonomy and self-determination. Equally important is the fact that the independence of the Mapuche nation was recognized in over thirty treaties with the Crown of Spain and with Chile and Argentina, who recognized the border established by the Treaty of Killen of January 6th 1641, which formally established the Bio-Bio River as a border boundary between both peoples.

The right to self-determination of peoples is also recognized in Articles 1.1 and 1.3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which states: "The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Article 22-1 specifically recognizes the right of everyone to freedom of association “for the protection of his interests."

The ILO Convention No. 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, Article 1b, recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to "retain their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions" and Article 8 calls for "due regard shall be had to their customs or customary laws". The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Article 3.4 urges governments to take measures to recognize their right to autonomy, self-determination and self-government and, in Article 20.1 calls for recognizing their "right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions".

Furthermore, the Mapuche people, prior to the colonisation of their territory by the states of Chile and Argentina, had also become in November 1860 a free, independent and sovereign nation state, with the adoption of a Constitution under whose government its territory was clearly mapped out . The occupation of this nation state by foreign powers merits the invocation of the Declaration Regarding Non-Self-Governing Territories of the United Nations Charter, Article 73.B which requires governments "to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the people, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its people and their varying stages of advancement".

Resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly of December 14th  1960, on the Right of Self-Determination declares that: "The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and cooperation. "

Goals and Objectives of the Mapuche Mission

The Mapuche Mission is made up of an interdisciplinary and heterogeneous group of volunteers headed by Apo Werken Flor Calfunao and Futha Werken Reynaldo Mariqueo.  Also taking part is a group of volunteers with the possibility of continued expansion as new members are appointed by the Mapuche authorities. Since its inception the Mapuche Mission has undergone a sustained process of consolidation by way of the growing support of the Mapuche leadership as well as encouraging international recognition.

Our aim is to safeguard the rights of the Mapuche Nation and to manifest our desire to live according to our political, spiritual and cultural traditions and in harmony with nature. The main goals and objectives are as follows:

  • Carry out and ensure, as far as we are able, Mapuche participation in UN activities;

  • Maintain a permanent link with the various bodies of the United Nations;

  • Inform the Mapuche people on the activities planned and carried out by the UN;

  • Convey  to the UN our views regarding issues concerned with policies affecting the interests of indigenous peoples;

  • Promote and protect human, civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights ratified by the states of Argentina and Chile;

  • Encourage the restoration of the right to autonomy and self-determination of the Mapuche people in accordance with the UN Charter;

  • Monitor the fulfilment of international obligations on human rights agreed by the governments of Chile and Argentina;

  • Submit reports to the various bodies of the United Nations in cooperation with communities, professionals and institutions based in the Wallmapu;

  • Promote friendship and cooperation with nations and peoples whether represented or not in the United Nations and to establish links with organizations that share similar principles and interests.

Expulsion from Switzerland of Mapuche Embassador.

As we have already indicated, the decision of the Swiss authorities to deny political asylum to Flor Calfunao, and her subsequent expulsion, will not only affect her, but also all the work which the Mapuche Mission has been carrying out. Flor is in reality the only Mapuche representative at the Permanent Mission who resides in Switzerland. It is of the utmost importance to have in existence a base in Geneva which can continue to carry out the various diplomatic tasks which the Mission undertakes in the city where so many UN bodies are based.

The work of disseminating information at an international level which Flor Calfunao is carrying out at the UN and other international human rights bodies is effective and efficient and above all of the maximum importance for our people. It is vital work in the sense that that it is not only defending the rights of the Mapuche people but is a useful tool for the promotion of human rights as a whole. It is a more than admirable way of launching by political means those which in our view are the most basic demands which the Mapuche are also maintaining in the Wallmapu by way of marches and peaceful protests which are being carried out in defence of the rights which we have as a people.

On the other hand, in Chile, repressive measures have been taken against numerous defenders of Mapuche human rights with the sole intention of undermining our morale and our capacity for resistance. In this way, and as a result of the key position of our Ambassador, we have good reason to think that she is the target of repressive laws and punishments which the Chilean authorities have imposed upon our most high-profile representatives.

Due to the urgency of the situation, we ask for all possible help from all Mapuche people and defenders of human rights to combat this situation and follow the work Flor Calfunao continues to carry out as Ambassador of the Permanent Mapuche Mission to the United Nations. We also appeal to the Swiss authorities to reconsider their demand that she leave the country and to show the necessary respect and consideration which the Mapuche people deserve before the international community, considering they were the first independent nation on the American continent and the last to be subjugated.

Final Considerations

Taking in to account the fact that the fight of the Mapuche people for autonomy and self-determination has never ceased, a fight which today is discussed in the context of the UN Charter which promotes respect for “fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small...”

Also considering the state of subjugation of the Mapuche people in Chile is in the public consciousness, a state of affairs which has been repeatedly condemned by various national and international human rights organisations.

The Special Rapporteur of the UN on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedom in the fight against terrorism, warned, during his recent visit to Chile, that: “the situation in the regions of Araucania and Biobio is extremely volatile” and added that: “in the absence of rapid and effective action at a national level, this could rapidly escalate and evolve in to disturbances and general violence”. The Rapporteur also denounced in particular the illegitimate use of laws, such as counter-terrorism laws, as markedly undemocratic.

Within this climate of repression and uncertainty in which the leaders of the Mapuche people find themselves, the existence of the Mapuche Permanent Mission in Geneva has become essential, in order to make its voice heard by the bodies of the United Nations. Under this state of repression it would be highly counterproductive to send back our sister Flor Calfunao due to the uncertain consequences for her personal safety.

Flor Calfunao Paillalef
Apo Werken – Ambassador

Reynaldo Mariqueo
Futa Werken – Deputy Chief



La Misión Permanente Mapuche ante la Organización de Naciones Unidas, fue establecida el 20 de Septiembre de 2011 por autoridades de la nación Mapuche.


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