by Chris Barrett, 02 January 2013.
In an interview published today in Diario Financiero, Chilean Minister of the Interior Andrés Chadwick affirmed that he believes that various indigenous Mapuche groups – some of them militant – receive funding from abroad, particularly from Argentina.
When asked if these groups, which struggle in various capacities for recognition of rights, recovery of land, and greater autonomy, received foreign support financially, Chadwick said “one has that impression, although I have no evidence, but I believe that given their capacity for action and organisation, they have foreign funding”, adding “there are resources here and you have to ask yourself, where are these resources coming from?”
Chadwick went on to say that the matter is being investigated, and that “it is absolutely clear that there is participation and support from foreign groups, and from what we have been able to detect they are Argentine”.
According to the Complementary Survey of Indigenous Peoples (ECPI), there were approximately 114,000 Mapuche living in Argentina in 2005 and nearly 605,000 in Chile, although taking into account the number of Argentines and Chileans with mixed heritage would raise those numbers substantially. Most Mapuche live in the southern provinces of Patagonia, particularly Chubut, Neuquén, and Río Negro in Argentina and Araucanía in Chile.
Since the 1990s and the reintroduction of democracy to Chile, Mapuche groups have sought greater autonomy and the return and protection of ancestral lands. This has caused conflict with businesses and landowners primarily in the Araucanía region, with some radical indigenous groups causing property damage and directing death threats at perceived enemies.
Tensions have risen in the last few weeks after landowners accused the government of inaction and threatened to “go out hunting” Mapuches.
Chadwick outlined the government’s development plan for Araucanía, a multifaceted approach that would involve local union leadership as well as religious and educational organisations in aiding the various communities of the region, one of the poorest in Chile.
However, he also stated that the government would not hesitate in applying the Antiterrorist Law against militant Mapuche groups, a dictatorship-era law which allows prosecutors to withhold evidence from the defence for up to six months and to conceal the identities of witnesses.
“We will not give up, whether we go by the common laws or if we have to implement special laws”, he said.
Whatever a Mapuche lives she/he will help the Mapuche Nation and its organizations. And Mr. Chadwick, the Chilean Government cannot prohibit neither invent the Mapuche organization could receive money to function, but more than money is our compromise and our capacity to denounce. Our young generation is the one that have the support of all of us everywhere, and more than that is the strength of our ancestors that had always had taught us to maintain our dignity. It is true that money can help, but who this Minister would like to ignore is that we Mapuche had been always been fighting for the right as people who had been living in our Wallmapu before the arrival and genocidal incursion of the colonizers of all kind and later the Chilean Nation state that not so long ago divided our territories and brought immigrants from Europe to take our territories for their own benefit and the benefit of agrarian capitalism. You Minister who govern for foreigner’s interest of neocapitalism and not even for Chilean, can apply the Pinochet antiterrorist law. Terrorist law for all of us Mapuche. Law against libertarian fighters of the 70’s was also used. This antidemocratic law that has been apply to our weichafes since the President Lagos’ administration, law which maintain in prison our brother today in hunger strike like pu peñi Hector Llaitul and Ramon Llanquileo and Fernando Millaqueo, would not stop our struggle to re-build our Nation. Time and Space is different for us that for you Mr. Minister, and if today we are many. Our children, grandchildren, great grand children would keep the human course of liberation for Mapuche. As little drops of water we are growing and transforming in wide and profound rivers of hope for a new human relationship with Ñuke Mapu and with all living beings in our spaces to live in harmonious coexistence.
From Edmonton, Canada
Dionicio Barrales Leal
Mapuche Nation Support Committee