Dear Mrs. Clinton:
It has come to my attention that in the near future you will be visiting
city of Temuco, Chile. I can assure you that there has never been a visitor to
Temuco of your rank and importance.
I was born and raised in the Araucania, the region called "La Frontera"
Frontier) and where Temuco is known a its capital. A city founded in 1881, in
less than ten years it had became one of the most important cities of Chile.
But "Frontier" and "Araucania" also connote other meanings: they connote a
region which for thousands of years has been the ancestral home of the Mapuche
nation, a nation never defeated by outside forces, be they the Incas, the
Spanish, or the Chileans.
In learned to walk in Temuco; I learned to read and write in Temuco;
I had my
first communion in Temuco. My family belongs to the area but the area does not
belong to us. Tragically, I also learned how the Mapuche culture was raped, how
their land was stolen, how they were, and are, kept at the lowest rung of the
social strata. They are a minority in their own land, they are made to feel
like strangers in their own home.
You will visit the heart of the Araucania. I beg you not to forget this
de jure owners of the land you will be visiting. Please do not be misled by the
pretty Mapuche who will dance and sing for you, dressed in colorful garments
and expressing their deep appreciation for your visit. Think of the thousands
who will not even know you were there because they have never seen a radio or a
television; of those who barely survive in a system that has relegated them to
an economy of subsistence. Think of their high rate of infant mortality and
malnutrition, of their unemployment rate, of the discrimination they live
under. These you will not see.
I wish I could be your guide in Temuco but I understand your role. Just
forget that this proud people, once seen as equals by the King of Spain for
almost 300 years, has suffered long enough and perhaps a word from you may
bring them, if not relief, at least a welcome sense that they exist. Thank you.
Fernando De Pierris