Chilean Ethnic Groups: Development Against Native Rights?

Chile's native ethnic groups have been here long before the Spanish occupation, and since then, they have been defending their rights in different areas. Today they defend the lands that they have occupied for centuries from the country's development that may threaten their way of life.

Víctor Toledo (ES), from the Centre of Public Policies and Native Rights posts an entire case of this situation. Lleu-Lleu is a location, where 17 Mapuche families will be affected if the government decides to activate a mine, which is still a project under economic evaluation. He argues that the government doesn’t respect indigenous rights, who are not even safe on their own land, which by doing so, is one way to maintain the native peoples’ integrity. Also he remembers that indigenous communities are protected by law, but goes looks at the deeper issue: the role of the government.

“Las comunidades mapuches del Lago Lleu Lleu, sur de Chile, con la denuncia de un proyecto minero, han puesto en la agenda pública, y a su modo, un asunto de fondo: la contradicción entre la obligación estatal de protección de las tierras indígenas, y la inadecuación de la institucionalidad y legislación sectorial minera ante esa obligación. Más allá de sus detalles, el caso de Rucañanco- Lleu Lleu es un conflicto que encuentra sus causas y responsabilidades en las antinomias e incumplimiento de obligaciones del propio estado chileno.”

The Mapuche communities from the Lleu-Lleu Lake in southern Chile, with their complaints about the mining project, have placed the underlying issue on the public agenda: the contradiction between the state's obligation to protect the indigeous’ lands and the inadequacy of the institutional and legislative mining sector of completing this obligation. In addition to the details, the Rucañanco- Lleu-Lleu conflict's causes and responsibilities can be explained by the non-fulfillment of the Chilean state's obligations.

Another case is the construction of the Ralco dam by the Spanish company Endesa, where 381 indigenous families were relocated from an area that is now flooded. All of the cemeteries and ancestral ceremonial sites were lost. A Spanish producer made a documentary about these events that explains step by step how the government and the company acted in order to make the project a reality. Under the title “ A documentary that shows the genocide of the Mapuche people by Endesa” the Spanish blog Teruel (ES) recounts the situation in the area.

A national network called” Action Network for Environmental and Social Justice” (ES) works to educate and inform about environmental rights and indigenous rights. The majority of the national organizations are registered there, and most do not have websites or blogs and many do not appear in the local newspapers.

Mapuexpress (ES) is a page where you can find all the news and about the concerns of Chilean indigenous communities, especially the Mapuche.

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