Friday, March 14th 2014 - 08:18 UTC

The Chilean state apologizes to the indigenous Mapuches 'for taking their lands'

The government of President Michelle Bachelet on Thursday apologized in the name of the Chilean state to the indigenous Mapuche tribe “for taking their lands” and said it has a pending debt in terms of public policies that will allow the La Araucania region, where 600,000 of the Indians live, to emerge from poverty.

The government of President Bachelet also admits the social debt and promises “no more of the same”

 The statement was made by the new governor of the zone, Francisco Huenchumilla, one of the regional officials named by newly inaugurated President Michelle Bachelet.

In Araucania, indigenous militants have torched vehicles, highway toll booths and lumber shipments as part of a struggle to reclaim lands the Mapuches lost during a 19th century “pacification” campaign. Those lands are now largely occupied by lumber and agricultural interests.

“The state's payment of this debt is pending and for more than 130 years it has implemented public policies that have not managed to bring this region out of poverty and from among the last areas of national development,” the governor said.

“To achieve this, I express, in the name of President Michelle Bachelet, the political will to do something different. No more of the same,” he emphasized.

Huenchumilla, himself a Mapuche, said that to move forward along this road he will meet with all the organizations of the productive sectors that “have been affected by the violence,” given that in this new scenario “all must be heard.”

The governor also called on prosecutors of the region to collaborate in creating a climate of respect and tolerance in the area, saying, “We must calm the spirits.”

On that subject, the president of the prosecutors association, Claudio Uribe, on Thursday repudiated the governor's remarks.

”The prosecutors, despite the scanty resources we have, will act in an absolutely serious way and (will) adhere to the principle of objectivity,“ Uribe said.

Huenchumilla also alluded to the restraint in the application of Chile's draconian anti-terrorist law, which was invoked on four occasions during Bachelet's first term as president, from 2006-2010.

Bachelet has said ”it was an error“ to apply the anti-terror law, which dates from the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship, and vowed not to invoke it again within the framework of the ”Mapuche conflict.”

The law was modified midway through the 2010-2014 presidency of Sebastian Piñera to guarantee due process, a measure that was adopted after a long hunger strike by jailed Mapuche activists.

A Mapuche leader was sentenced last week to 18 years in prison for the January 2013 arson deaths of an elderly couple in Araucania. The conflict has also claimed the lives of three Mapuches and a Carabinero officer, while dozens of indigenous activists have been jailed.

7 comments Feed

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1 CaptainSilver (#) Mar 14th, 2014 - 09:50 am Report abuse
The thing is…. When is Argentina going to do the same? They claim that the Indians they slaughtered came from Chile, but in the days before Spain colonised Patagonia there were no borders. Borders were the invention of the European colonists, the same people that now call themselves Argentines. Perhaps the venerable Think or academic Axel can explain?
2 ChrisR (#) Mar 14th, 2014 - 11:15 am Report abuse
Batchelet is saying the right things, we will see if she manages to “rectify” the matter against the companies who own the land now.

Tough call, that one. I guarantee she will never please everybody no matter what she does.
3 Chicureo (#) Mar 14th, 2014 - 01:20 pm Report abuse
I'm not against the Mapuche people for their claims, but I'm very much against the brutal violence that includes killing of innocent individuals in the south. Here in Colina (Chicureo is a part of the municipalidad) the city recognizes the Mapuche and Spanish language... in that order.
4 Brit Bob (#) Mar 14th, 2014 - 03:53 pm Report abuse

When the British settled the Islands, before the nation of Argentina existed they oppressed nothing but the natural population of penguins and seagulls. Meanwhile I don't see too many indigenous south Americans amongst the Argentine power-mongers. Still, that's genocide for you.
5 CabezaDura2 (#) Mar 14th, 2014 - 10:20 pm Report abuse

“ Meanwhile I don't see too many indigenous south Americans amongst the Argentine power-mongers”

I do errr Zanini??

The Mapuches invaded the eastern side of northern Patagonia in what is today Neuquen by the 1700s and 1800s, displacing local aboriginal groups and culturally suplanting them. The white man had already settled up north in the early 1500s. Constant indian raids and attacks were common through most of the XIX Century, rape, pillage of cattle and sacking of towns and cities was an all usual drama in the frontier. Alsina the defence minister at the time builded the longest trench to that day to prevent this by 1876-77

The trench was proven ineffective and Alsina died soon after, Roca was assigned minester of war and defence.
He had no option but to destroy the warrior tribes. After his campaign the raids stopped.
6 the_Truth_shall_B_Trolld (#) Mar 15th, 2014 - 04:41 am Report abuse

When Britain does it?

Well, that saves us some face, since that mean never.
7 pgerman (#) Mar 19th, 2014 - 12:04 pm Report abuse
@1 CaptainSilver

As it is quite clear that you are not argentine you does not have to know about the history of the country I will give you some basic tips.

Argentina does not need to apologize the Mapuches simply because it has never taken Mapuches land. In fact, taking into account historical facts, the Mapuches would have to apologize other tribes for having invaded their land, having killed thousands of their ancestor and, basically, for making some cultures dissapeared from history.

The Mapuches (led by Calfucura) crossed the Andes, invaded Boroganos land, fought and defeated them, killed most of Boroganos population and the surviving population was anexed as part of Calfucura tribes.

By the way, we are talking about boundaries established by tribes, not by europeans, since the Andes are such a big group of mountains that have always been a natural boundary between the East and the West.

The Mapuches, led by Calfucura, anexed, either by defeating or by negotiation, almost the whole tribes on the East since then onwards making thier cultures dissapeared (including lenaguages) and starting the “araucanization” process.

Calfucura became in such powerfull chief that was almost unbeatable and was defeated, decades ago after taking plenty of resources by genocide or by extortion, in San Carlos. He survived and died seven year before the Desert Campaing launched by President Nicolas Avellaneda and the Argentine Congress.

In case of needing any additional information, please, don't hesitate and let me know. I'll be more than happy to assit you and to suggest books to increase your knowledge on the topic.

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