Proyecto de Documentación Ñuke Mapu

29 March 1999

Resolution concerning the violation of the rights of the Mapuche people of Chile.

The European Parliament.

- following its previous resolutions concerning indigenous peoples

A. Whereas the Mapuche people in Chile comprise 10% of the total population of the nation (1,200,000 people),

B. Whereas their traditional lands extend from the Bio-Bio River in the north to the island of Chiloe in the South, included in the VIIIth, IXth, and Xth regions of Chile,

C. Whereas, until their forced annexation by Chile in 1883, the Mapuche people were a sovereign nation, recognised as such by Spain since 1641,

D. Considering that the loss of sovereignty and the usurping of these lands have reduced the Mapuche people to their current level of extreme poverty,

E. Aware that the efforts for social justice for the Mapuche carried out by the government of President Allende were revoked by the seventeen years of dictatorship which followed,

F. Considering that, despite numerous representations from the Mapuche people since the reestablishment of democracy, no substantial political change has come about,

G. Concerned about the deterioration in the situation in the VIIIth and IXth regions of Chile, where conflicts over land have degenerated into acts of violence by the police against several Mapuche communities, leading to numerous injuries, detentions and a series of complaints,

H. Concerned about the partisan attitude of the Chilean judiciary system, against the Mapuche people, which, in the upper Bio-Bio, has ordered the repression and detentions of those families who were protesting against the installation of the Ralco hydro-electric dam on their lands, despite the undisputed legitimacy of their land-titles. In other regions, such as Lleu-Lleu, Traiguen, Lumako etc., it defends, as a first priority, the private businesses and forestry companies which are occupying thousands of hectares of land taken from Mapuche communities.

I. Aware that, in addition to ancestral rights and treaties, the Mapuche have additional evidence to underline their claims for the recovery of their expropriated land, the first being property titles issued at the time of the annexation by Chile, the second referring to lands restored to them by the government of Popular Unity, which were removed from them by agrarian counter-reform under the Pinochet dictatorship,

J. Concerned that the current conflicts, which have already continued for several months, may grow and develop, as in the situation in Kosovo,

1 Calls on President Frei and the government of Chile to bring an end to police repression and the militarisation of Mapuche lands, as well as refrain from implementation of the law of internal State Security inherited from the dictatorship.

2 Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all Mapuche who have been detained, for an end to legal actions and for the right to freedom of movement for all in Chile.

3 Demands a public enquiry and immediate punishment of police officers who act outside the law and also asks that measures be taken to identify and eradicate institutional racism in the police force.

4 Demands the opening, without delay, of negotiations between the government and the co-ordinating committee of Mapuche communities, with the aim of resolving the conflicts and restoring lands taken by private land-owners, businesses and forestry companies.

5 Asks for constitutional recognition for the Mapuche people in Chile and the ratification by Chile of Convention No. 169 of the ILO, concerning indigenous and tribal peoples.

6 Demands respect for the human rights of all in Chile, as well as state respect for rights and democratic principles in the functioning of the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (CONADI).

7 Recognises those who have made peaceful moves towards an equitable solution to the current crisis, in particular Mr Adolfo Millabur, mayor of Tirua commune, currently the only Mapuche mayor in Chile; as well as the Mapuche lawyer Mr. Jose Lincoqueo, who is trying to find a just solution to the numerous land problems through legal channels.

8 Instructs its President to communicate this resolution to President Frei , to the government of Chile, to the governors of the VIIIth, IXth, and Xth regions of Chile, to the director and council of CONADI, to the mayor and community council of Tirua commune.


To all concerned

                                          ABUSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHILE


Background to the Proposed Resolution

Because of the current systematic abuse of human rights in Chile we are asking for your support in requesting that the European Parliament pass a resolution condemning the Chilean Government's actions. We are particularly concerned about the repression of the Mapuche indigenous people whose ancestral lands are in the south of the country and we include a Draft Resolution which will be sent to European MPs and representatives of human rights organisations.

Since the end of last year over 100 arrests have been made in different Mapuche communities and on repeated occasions police and armed civilian guards have beaten, threatened and tortured people. They have, in defiance of the principle of freedom of worship, detained people participating in religious ceremonies and have been restricted from freedom of expression and the right to hold meetings. Mapuche journalists have been imprisoned and have had their equipment confiscated. The police are impeding free movement of Mapuches in their ancestral territory, and at present they are detaining people on the sole pretext that their residence is not registered in that particular place or community.

The systematic confiscation of lands and resources both by the state and by private interests has marginalised and impoverished the Mapuche people. The Mapuche population of Chile registers the highest indices of infant mortality, malnutrition and unemployment. Twenty percent of the predominantly Mapuche rural populations are illiterate compared with the national average of five percent. As a result of these social problems the life expectancy in the Mapuche population is ten years less than the national average. Racial discrimination is rife and in many parts of Chile the use of traditional dress is a pretext for police harassment. The education system does not recognise cultural diversity and the immediate consequence is the loss of Mapudugun, the Mapuche language.

Numerous conflicts continue unresolved because of the seizure of Mapuche lands by private interests. Government programmes for development and improvement of infrastructure in Mapuche regions have had little effect in improving living conditions. On the contrary, they have depleted existing resources and in most cases such projects are implemented without consultation or consent, which is in contravention of the Indigenous Law No. 19253. At the same time massive deforestation increases, and there is also enormous pressure to privatise indigenous areas for the purposes of tourism.

We respectfully appeal to you to intervene with a view to bringing to an end the repression of Mapuche people. We ask you to condemn the cruel and degrading treatment to which the Chilean Mapuches are daily subjugated to, whilst demanding respect for their rights.

We are concerned that the present Government of Chile, under the pretext of combating terrorism, is applying repressive measures devised during the military dictatorship of Pinochet. Such violations of human rights, include the abolition of the principle of collective ownership of the land by indigenous peoples.

Further information may be obtained from Mapuche web-site, or from the addresses given below.

We thank you in anticipation for your support.

Gaston Lion

Belgian American Indian Committee
Rue du Fond des Cuves 19, 
B-5190 Jemeppe sur Sambre, 
Tel/Fax: +32-71-785652 

Ramona Quiroga

Mapuche International Link 
Faktorij 53
Tel/Fax: 31-72-5618496

Jorge Calbucura

University of Uppsala
Sociology Department
Documentation Project Ñuke Mapu
P.O. Box 821, S-751 08 Uppsala, 
T:+46-18-4711504 F:+46-18-4711170

Reynaldo Mariqueo

Mapuche Inter-regional Council
International Co-ordination
6 Lodge Street, 
Bristol BS1 5 LR, 
Tel/Fax: 44-117-9279391

Mapuche Web:

Mapuche International Link
Documentation Project Ñuke Mapu
Rehue Foundation