As the Earth Summit comes to a close, the Mapuche organisation questions the EU's ethics regarding sustainability in developing countries
The Free-Trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Chile is strongly opposed by the Mapuche people's organisations based in Holland, Belgium, Sweden and the UK. A campaign has been launched today to contest its ratification. Information has been sent to their respective Parliaments as well as to the EU Parliament, in which the Mapuche express their concerns, for what they see as a threat to the existence and development of the indigenous communities in Chile.
The Mapuche state that the Chilean Government does not guarantee the implementation of sustainable development policies. They foresee that this agreement will lead to increased commercial activity in their ancestral territories. Multinational corporations and other investors will have access to uncontrolled exploitation of their natural resources. The lack of policies to protect native forests has already resulted in an alarming depletion of the eco-system and biodiversity. The Mapuche note that all infrastructure projects are currently introduced without the consent of the affected indigenous communities, drawing attention to the fact that most of what has already been implemented contravenes current Chilean legislation on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Mapuche highlight the fact that the proposed agreement infringes ethical
principles affirmed by the EU, and forms the basis for unregulated commercial
activity in developing countries. The document says:
"We are most concerned about the total disregard in this agreement for sustainable development, the environment, and the human rights of indigenous peoples. This should be seen in the context of the norms and agreements established by the EU, the UN and other international organisations."
In an open letter to the European Parliament, the Mapuche ask them not to ratify the agreement until a fact finding mission is sent to Chile in order to investigate the serious concerns put in detail to them.
Non-governmental organisations have been asked to show their solidarity with the Mapuche people as the indigenous population suffers the highest level of infant mortality, unemployment and illiteracy in Chile. "Life expectancy is ten years lower than the rest of the Chilean population and racial discrimination and intolerance are everyday realities. The seizure of Mapuche land by the state and by private individuals continues unabated."
They also attach documents detailing the human rights violations - in particular the indiscriminate detention of women, the elderly and children without a cause being stated. Some of the increasing numbers of political prisoners are presently on hunger strike, until the reason for their imprisonment is given to them. The legal system in Chile does not guarantee justice to the Mapuche; their political leaders are being tried under military tribunals, accused of contravening repressive legislation introduced during the dictatorship of General Pinochet.
During the twelve years of so-called democracy in Chile, the Government has refused to ratify Convention 169 concerning indigenous and tribal people, introduced by the International Labour Organisation in 1989. The Chilean Senate has recently failed to recognise indigenous people within the Constitution and is clear evidence of the lack of political will to resolve this raging conflict.
further information please visit our webpage or contact:
Mapuche Documentation Center, Ñuke Mapu
Department of Sociology
P.O. Box 821
S-751 08 Uppsala, Sweden
Tel: +46 (18) 471 15 04
Fax: +46 (18) 471 11 70
Mapuche International Link
6 Lodge Street,
Bristol. BS1 5LR, UK.
Tel/Fax +44-117-927 9391
Committee for Indian of The Armericas (Belgium)
Rue du Fond des Cuves 19,
B-5190 Jemeppe sur Sambre,
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