Chile and Argentina are now governed by democratically elected governments. Unfortunately, there is little recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples. Government policies and development projects have resulted in additional hardship and detriment to the Mapuche way of life. Recently, Chilean laws concerning land rights have come under scrutiny because of their apparent disregard for the Mapuche people. It has to be stated that the Mapuche people are not against development but have very little legal representation on their behalf in order to achieve a settlement which will ensure more equitable and sustainable developments in which they can participate and by which they can benefit.


The existence of the Mapuche people is not recognised in the Chilean constitution nor does the Chilean state subscribe to international laws that promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 169. This means that neither the legal nor educational systems are obliged to make a distinction between Mapuches and Chileans of European origin. Consequently, the ancestral territorial resources of the Mapuche people are continually ignored and are legally taken into private ownership. With regard to the educational system, this is orientated to promote cultural uniformity, which makes it very difficult for the Mapuche people to maintain their cultural identity. As a result, the Mapu-dugun (the Mapuche language) is quickly dying out.

Policies of integration according to the plans and wishes of the States have had disastrous effects on the life and development of the Mapuche people. The occupation of their territory, the destruction of their society and administrative organisation followed by diverse arbitrary and unjust measures, practiced in the past, continue today. The numerous initiatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations have proved ineffective in resolving the Mapuche problem. On the contrary, they have made it worse by their paternalistic nature, which keeps them in a constant state of dependency, instead of helping them to manage their own developmental process and control their own affairs.