MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, March 29th 2023 - 13:17 UTC



Bachelet promises to buy and return disputed lands to Chile's tribes

Wednesday, June 25th 2014 - 06:28 UTC
Full article 28 comments

President Michelle Bachelet announced a plan to buy and return disputed ancestral lands to Chile's indigenous communities as part of a strategy to better incorporate them into the country's political process and economic development. Read full article


Disclaimer & comment rules
  • CaptainSilver

    When will Argentina do the same, the Mapuche were in Patagonia too? Is it true Argentina is composed of Latin land grabbjng colonialists?

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 07:48 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Be serious

    What a nice lady Chile have as their President. As CaptainSilver says above it would be great if Argentina would show some humanity and compromise by handing back Patagonia to the Mapuche. Perhaps China might make this a condition when they agree to pay off Argentinas debts.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 08:05 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    I totally agree that Ms Bachellet is quite a nice lady and clever woman but I don't agree that it would be great if Argentina would show some humanity and compromise by handing back Patagonia to the Mapuche.

    Firstly because Mapuhces were not from Patagonia
    Secondly becuase they are claiming for FI too ( you add these people to the current issue?)
    Finally, would it be great if Australia can hand back its whole territory to the aboriginal people?, and NZI can hand back both islands to the maori people? this would lead to the end of these two addition Canada will have to hand back most of its territory, USA will have to hand back most of its territory...and so on...and what about Chagos people? a mess !!!!

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 12:12 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • CaptainSilver

    Exactly #3. You are starting to understand. The Mapuche were nomadic and roamed across Patagonia for centuries before the Latins arrived there and slaughtered most of them. You should hand it back. Since the Falkland Islands wee discovered by the British in the 17th century no Amrindian has ever been seen there. They may have visited before that but never stayed. You cannot claim territory like that, and that is why no-one from the descendents of the United Provinces has any claim. The Mapuche were in Patagonua before you, its their land not yours.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 12:41 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    There are not any proof that leads us to believe that the mapuhes were the people that lived in the East of the Patagonia, just to the contrary, all the historical facts go in the opposite direction but, in addition, and for some unknown reason they also claim the FI...check and see their current maps...

    Do you know why mapuches claim the FI?

    What about Australia? And NZ islands? and Canada?...would all of them hand back the their territories?

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 12:49 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Conqueror

    @5 Plenty of proof if you care to look for it. And why do you just select the Mapuche? What about the Picunche, the Huilliche, the Moluche/Nguluche, the Cunco, the Poya, the Pehuenche, the Puelche, Ranquel and northern Aonikenk?

    Incidentally, if none of these tribes were present when Britain discovered the Islands they have no claim. Unless, of course, they'd like to visit and point out their settlements. And if there is adequate evidence.

    And Australia, NZ and Canada are not relevant. Unless you're offering to go back where you came from? Although I doubt that any of those countries would want you.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 01:17 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    No, you are wrong as usual, there are not proof at all, just to the contrary all the historical facts lead us to consider that mapuches were people from the West of the Andes which is a more humid and fertil asoil than the East of the Andes.
    Additionally, the Andes mountains were such an important physical barrier that made it impossible to regularly move from side to side of the mountain chain.

    Are you an expert on the native peoples of Argentina? I believe that you just googled some lines looking for the name of Argentine native peoples only with the idea of ​​“proving” an alleged genocide that has no physical evidence.

    Would you like to rationally discuss about this topic?...

    I'm sorry, but this is part of your ignorance of this topic but yes, mapuches also claim the FI....don't ask me why..

    Australia, NZ and Canada ARE relevant since they all have the same history as Argentina as part of lands discovered by europeans. So any reasoning regarding Argentina lands would prefectly applicable to these other countries.

    In addition, another proof of your ignorance on this topic is that part of the Patagonia was occupied by Welsh pioneers so I would'n consieder them as “Latins”....

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 01:39 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Anglotino


    Try learning something about Australia before you drag us into it.

    We have at least recognised our errors and attempted and are still attempting to rectify them as much as possible.

    17% of Australia has now been recognised as Native Title with more cases being bough forward and decided on.

    How much land has Argentina returned? What percentage of Argentina is protected and owned by its natives?

    If the Mapuche were in Patagonia before it was Argentinean then you stole their land. It doesn't matter if they were there for 10 years or 50,000.

    Dispossession is dispossession. Doesn't matter how you try to justify it.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 01:52 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman


    I don't want to drag you into anything. I visited Australia and NZI. I live in Canada and all these three countries are wonderfull ones with very nice people so I don't have anything against them. Just to the contrary. I just want to make you think in a coherent way.

    These countries tried to correct historical mistakes which is great and correct but there is a difference between correcting mistakes and returning land as a generic concept.

    Argentina has plenty of social pending issue to correct, that's quite clear but helping people to have a better life is quite different from resigning the sovereignty of extensions of land..

    Take for instance that almost the whole tirbes that occupied the current Argentina territory were of little population basically because they were migrnat people with low density. As a result with the appearence of the Western cultture and technology they disapeared as cultural identities.

    So, to whon would Argentina have to return land? The Onas are gone as a tribe, as a human group, so nobody can talk in their name. As a result nobody can ask for their land.

    Again, all the historical facts prove tha mapuches were not inhabitants of the current Argentine territory. Fro were did you get the contrary?

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 02:08 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Be serious

    The Mapuche were much nearer to Patagonia than either Portugal, Italy or Spain (The PIS States)
    Or does the geographic argument not apply anymore, dare I say only when it suits?

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 02:21 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    The Mapuche were much nearer to FI than te UK
    The Mapuche were much nearer to Patagonia than Chile.
    The Mapuche were also much nearer to Australia and NZI than the UK
    The Australian aborigines were, still are, much nearer to Australia than the UK and the Queen.
    The Maories were, still are, much nearer to their islands than the UK and the Queen.
    The Incas were much nearer to the north of Chile than current Chileans..

    So based on your reasoning Chile, Argentina, Australia, NZI, FI, Canada must hand their land back to the orinignal people and desapear as countries.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 02:34 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Condorito

    NZ is a very good example of a country that has managed and protected the rights of the indigenous population. In fact they hold many privileges over the non-indigenous.

    Ignoring the debate about land, I must question your statement:

    “Again, all the historical facts prove tha mapuches were not inhabitants of the current Argentine territory”.

    There is overwhelming evidence of “araucanización” east of the Andes before European settlement.

    In Chile the Mapuche “conflict” confuses the fact that most of us have indigenous blood, Mapuche or other. In many ways this conflict is a manifestation of the increasing demand for decentralisation of Chile. With devolution of more executive power to the regions, more investment (and some constitutional modifications) this conflict will end.

    Our education, culture and sense of identity embrace all the indigenous populations, what Bachelet want is constitutional recognition of this.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 02:52 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    @ Condorito, my friend Condorito..I was mising you in this discussion.

    NZ, Australia and Canada made some changes to correct their historical mistakes which is something great for all of them but they never mentioned anything about handling land back. In addition, please, accept that these three countries are developed ones with excelent life quality so their social std are quite different from the ones in Argentin and Chile.

    There are plenty of “regular” people, either in Argentina and in Chile, with dissatisfied basic needs so it's quite sensible that native people suffer from the same issue.

    Chile, as far as I know, is enterely founded over the land were the mapuches lived so the country will have to find the way to solve the social issues as a result of this historical fact.

    The “araucanizacion” of rhe East of the Andes is the proof that mapuches were not native people of these areas. They were invaders as europeans were. In fact, the arauanizacion was, in some way, promoted by the arrival of the europeans.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 03:14 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    “araucanizacion” ... a lovely expression.

    But the argument is simply one of time.
    The 'pre-Colombian' invasions across South America were the first of a series of 'invasions'.
    In principle, the only invasion that was different in kind was the first,
    and then only because there were no indiginants to displace.

    In this sense the Falklands present the same situation as the spreading of the Mapuche; all others - including the Spanish invasions - were of the second type ... the type that Bachelet is concerned about.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 03:30 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Be serious

    Plenty Mapuche in Patagonia but no Mapuche in FI's then?

    Show me evidence of Mapuche settlement in FI and I 'll support Mapuche right to FI's after Mapuche get independence from Argentina in Patagonia.

    That's fair init?

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 03:53 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Condorito

    I have been posting less recently, but not to worry.
    I agree with most of what you say. You know the contention I have with you is not about the “araucanizacion” of large parts of Argentina, but it is the use of this fact to justify the desert campaign that targeted all non-European ethnicities.

    Moving on:

    “Chile, as far as I know, is enterely founded over the land were the mapuches lived”.

    Actually only a very small part of Chile (around Rio BioBio)was Mapuche. It was the conflict with the Spanish that caused the Mapuche expansion. For example here in my region the Diaguita inhabited the Elqui valley before the Spanish arrived. There were a couple of Inca settlements that co-existed. The Spanish founded La Serena 1544. Five years later the Diaguita attacked the town and killed all but a few colonists.[ - The Diaguitas were of Argentinian origin incidentally - ]

    Later that year the Spanish returned and prosecuted a war of extermination of the Diaguita leaving the region with no rural class.

    Similar events occurred in most parts of Chile. The Mapuche were unique in the New World in there ability to resist the Spanish. As a result their population remained large. Over the centuries Mapuche emigrated to other regions where they formed the base of the peasantry.

    This is why Chile is inextricably linked with the Mapuche. You are probably right that a nation's stage of development has a lot to do with satisfactory resolution of these conflicts.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 04:06 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Anglotino

    Pgerman is incapable of learning Condorito.

    Product of the Argentinean education system? Indoctrination?

    As I clearly state in post 8, we have already handed back 17% of Australia to Aboriginals. The fact that in post 13 states “NZ, Australia and Canada made some changes to correct their historical mistakes which is something great for all of them but they never mentioned anything about handling land back.”

    17% handed back.

    And with hundreds of cases pending that will grow. We are heading towards 1/5 and potentially 1/4 of the country will be owned by its original inhabitants.

    I doubt Argentina has done as well, especially considering it is now in the 21st century still dispossessing natives from their land so it can grow soy.

    I repeat that dispossession is dispossession. It doesn't matter how long someone was on the land as long as they preceding you.

    If there were people on land in Argentina BEFORE Europeans came to that area then it was their land.

    The fact that Argentina “whitewashes” its history to remove natives and African slaves is highly disturbing in 2014.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 10:06 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman


    Let me see if I undesrtood.

    You believe that the current Australians, a society with British background, and the current Australia, as a political entity, are responsible for having taken 100% of the land from the aboriginal people......but you proud of having returned 17% of it ???...Are you serious?

    Perfect, so you are still living in 83% of stolen land !!!!..quite an ethical position....

    That is more cinic than CFK, and the Argentine current ministers !! At least they are proud of having gave back almost 50% of the money to the bond holders !!!!

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 10:18 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Anglotino

    Yes I am proud that we have given back 17% in native title. That doesn't include other rights that Aboriginals have over more of Australia.

    And in just over 20 years.

    And the number is growing.

    So yes. Thanks for asking. I am extremely proud of that.

    My question, which you seem either unable to or are too embarrassed to answer.

    How much of Argentina is now controlled by its native peoples?

    If it's less than 17% then I am afraid it is you that have an interesting “ethical position”.

    Jun 25th, 2014 - 11:54 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Chicureo

    The sad part about this is the Mapuches will still complain and protest about something else. Making a compromise with them is almost as frustrating as negotiating with Argentinian politicians. They are never satisfied. I do agree however that the native peoples do deserve better attention than what they've received in the past.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 12:46 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman


    The last census revealed there are 179,000 people living in indigenous communities in Argentina, while another 420,000 people with “indigenous background” are integrated into the general population. Taking into account the total population of Argentina indigenous people, or those with some indigenous background, are less than 1,4% of the total population. So, indigenous people are quite clearly a minority in Argentina.

    By the way, there are 300,000 “argentine born” with British background people so if you add the British citizens living in Argentina both groups, British people and indigenous people, must be equal in numbers.

    I don't know how much of Argentina is controlled by people with indigenous background but the fact is that I have a different point of view than you. I don't believe that Argentina is based on a stolen land so there is nothing to be handed back.

    Additionally, as I have already mentioned, most of the original tribes disappeared as cultural identities by the “araucanization” process so almost nobody could “take” the returned land.

    To sum up, I don't have the ethical dilema that you must have taking into account that you consider Australia a country based on genocide and robbery.

    If I were you, I would be embarrased to see that the true owners of australian land have just 17% of their land while to thieves still control the balance 83%

    When are you going to hand back their whole land? And since this will mean the end of Australia as a political entity..Where are you going to live? (pretty sad by the way since I love this country)

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 03:17 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Anglotino

    So you couldn't answer the question.

    As I thought.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 03:35 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext


    “We” didn't return all that land back to aborigines. It was a decision by our High Court and the following year the Australian Govt. enacted Native Title to facilitate that return.

    Previously the position of both the British Crown ( 19th century ) & the Australian Govt ( 20th ) was that terra nullis prevailed i.e. that the land belonged to no-one at the time of British settlement. Since aboriginal people had no concept of ownership - everything they possessed belonged to the community and they thought of the land as a kind of equal relationship, not something to exploited - this was an accurate legal judgement. Also disingenuous and extremely convenient for the government(s). The Mabo High Court overturned that - legally incorrect, but morally correct. Ironic is it not?

    Australia, of course, is never going to return 100% of the land the British Crown 'acquired' from the original inhabitants. There are no indigenous people still living a strictly traditional lifestyle - the things that Europeans brought with them - tea, sugar, salt, guns, alcohol were too seductive, being a hunter-gatherer is a tough gig in many ways and Traditional Law ( which is still practiced in some parts ) can be harsh. So long as the strong connection to the land and the preservation of sacred sites is maintained for those groups that still need it...that is sufficient I think.

    Real reconciliation, if that's what you're hinting at, will depend on other things, which, sadly, my country is not ready and willing enough to entertain at this point in time.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 05:51 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Giving land/compensation to remnant communities or 'gene-pools' in Chile is similar to the East Europeans voting to compensate Genghis Khan for the taking back of his Eurasian empire!
    Admittedly, the Mapuche invaded 'Argentina' more recently than Genghis - about the same time that the Spanish.

    I suppose that the Bachalet stance would be more akin to compensating all those EU citizens that have Neanderthal in their DNA! But that would just take money from the Basques, Sardinians and the Komi Finns and give it to the rest of us.

    The Falklanders are more like the Aussie aboriginals (rather than the ancient North American Native Indian tribes who warred and invaded across each others 'home ranges') - pure First Inhabitants.

    If ever there were groups worthy of 'special measures' it is the small populations of First Inhabitants ... Mapuche were invaders (possibly Arawak or polynesian), perhaps First Inhabitants in Chile - but in Argentina they are kin to Golding's 'The Inheritors'.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 08:48 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman

    Let me add that I have never considered that current australians are the result of genocide or robbery, these are Anglotino ideas.

    From my point of view no country has a perfect hirtory basically because human beings are not perfect and because they act guided by their cultural background and the concepts of their time. And these things change with the times.

    Chilean history, based on the little I know about it, seems to be closer to NZ islands history. This is a land previously occupied by strong tribes that were warriors so they have never been defeated and the were able to survive as a cultural identity.

    Argentinian history seems to be closer to Australian history, this is an extremely large and arid land almost vacant occupied by migrant people with very little identity.

    I know that in Australia some crimes were commited against the aboriginal people, such as the “Stolen generation” or the “Canning Route” crimes but this is something sensible (I'm just accepting them but it doesn't mean that I agree with them) taking into account the isolation in certain areas of Australia at that time.

    The very same way, some farmers in the Island of Tierra del Fuego (I believe that was in farms close to the current city of Rio Grande) used to “hunt” shelkhams in contrast with the protection they receive in Ushuaia by the Argentine Army. I suggest that you read Thomas Bridges books (he originally wrote them in English so these books can still be found in English in Buenos Aires).

    In addition, I find great that Chile can correct an historical mistake (if they consider that the right thing) but Argentine history seems to be a little different from chilean one. There are still some pnding issues with small, very small. communities that must be corrected but CFK seems not to care about them..

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 12:36 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext

    @25 pgerman

    I like this Chilean approach and I hope it works for them. Similar approaches have been tried in Oz but have mostly been unsuccessful. But the reasons why it hasn't worked here don't translate to Chile ( to the best of my knowledge ).

    Yes, the Kiwi experience has been very different. It's a common misconception that Maori's are indigenous - their were people living there before they arrived and the Maori's killed the lot of them and then started killing themselves. There's a great - and highly entertaining - film called Utu that explores this subject.

    Unlike Oz the British settlers and the Maori's signed a treaty. Their is also a much higher % of Maori's to non-Maori's than the equivalent in Australia. This has translated to a much more powerful political presence.

    The real damage that Europeans did to Australia's indigenous people was to rob them of their identity. They didn't know any better at the time, of course, and I don't believe judging 18th century values from the 21st is fair or helpful, but their are two things we could do now that would help aborigines believe that the country we now call Australia is their country too: adopt the aboriginal flag as the Australian flag and become a republic.

    The chances of either happening anytime soon, however...are remote.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 04:11 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • pgerman


    Good comments. Nice point of views.

    Changing a flag is not a big deal compared to changing a monarchy for a republic.

    Anyway, from my point of view the current polotical structure of Australia works well. It seems that being a Constitutional Monarchy is quite effective for Australia in terms of giving political and economic stability with great respect for individual rights. Honestly I don't see the point of changing it but, off course, anything can be improved.

    On the other side, usually more developed cultures are usually adopted by those whose original culture is less developed. So, I don't find it difficult to understand that aboriginal cultures were spontaneously replaced by european culture.

    The very same happened in Argentina since human beings tend to adopt the best solutions for our problems.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 04:47 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Heisenbergcontext


    Thanks for the kind words. Yes I agree, with the exception of The Dismissal in '75 the current system has worked well for most of us. Not aborigines though...and it never will IMO.

    Until the rest of us are willing to give up something we truly care about we will never be able to amends for the mistakes of the past. The present system of government wasn't one aborigines were ever given any choice in. They weren't even allowed to be citizens of a country they had occupied for tens of thousands of years. It's not an equal relationship and this is something aborigines instinctively know - even if they can't articulate it.

    N.Z. is having a referendum on their flag in a few months. This will stimulate a lot of debate in this country. I look forward to it.

    Jun 26th, 2014 - 06:05 pm - Link - Report abuse 0

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!