Chile's Interior Minister Izkia Siches has conveyed her apologies to the Government of Argentina for statements that appeared to endorse the Mapuche claim to the Wallmapu, the indigenous ancestral lands which would challenge sovereignty over a large part of Patagonia.
On March 24, while Argentina was on a national holiday mourning the victims of the last military regime, Siches said that one cannot cry out loud when one speaks of Wallmapu, a territory that includes parts of Chile and Argentina.
Those remarks cause uproar and outrage among Argentine Patagonians. We demand our national government to be firm in the positioning and clarify to the Chileans that there is no Wallmapu, there is the province of Chubut, provincial former Security Minister Federico Massoni posted on social media.
It is not at all my intention to interfere in the territory of our trans-Andean brothers. I want to be very clear, the term is focused on our national territory, Siches explained. And, it is not to polarize our country, but rather to look for those meeting points, to speak to our native peoples with much respect.
If the minister wanted to apologize so as not to generate more controversy on the point, she is within her rights to do so. However, it seems to me that it was absolutely unnecessary to ask for this type of explanation or apology, Chilean Congresswoman Karol Cariola said. It seems to me that the minister or any person in this country has every right to talk about the 'Wallmapu,' considering the conception that the Mapuche people themselves established in this regard.
Chile's Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola pointed out that We understand that the concept of Wallmapu is a proposal of the Mapuche people and that Minister Siches made it her own out of respect.
Under no circumstances does the Chilean government understand it as a division of the State, much less does this administration fail to recognize Argentine sovereignty over its territory, she stressed.
Under the Mapuche view, Wallmapu encompasses parts of Chile and a large portion of Argentina, including the provinces of Chubut, Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa, Mendoza and a large sector of Córdoba, Buenos Aires and San Luis.