Centro de Documentación Mapuche Documentation Center

Public Declaration

The Coalition to Protect the Coastal Range of the Los Lagos Region

Osorno, Febuary 13, 2001

francais - castellano

Gathered here in an assembly following three months of work, we the affected Huilliche Mapuche communities of San Juan de la Costa, Rio Negro and Purranque hereby appeal both to the authorities and to public opinion at large, declaring the following:
  1. We depend for our livelihood on the natural resources provided by the coast.  The forests, the beach, the ocean and the rivers are essential for our survival.  It is from these that we are able to extract the water for our thirst and that of our animals, the firewood that we use and sell, the medicinal plants for our health, and the seaweed for our diet.  The coastal territory in which we live include sacred places that aside from having tourist value, are of great importance to our culture.
  2. In its current dimensions, the construction of the coastal highway would directly affect these natural resources and, consequently, our ability to make use of them.  A few examples of this include:
-The contamination of water sources by sediments and garbage.

-The destruction of grazing lands and the trampling of both domestic and wild animals.

-The diminution of the availability of firewood, medicinal plants, seaweed and other important resources.

These effects would be caused by the construction of the highway itself as well as by the subsequent arrival of the logging and tourist industries to the area.  In a massive operation, the logging companies are set to exploit our native forests, clearing them and replacing them with pine and eucalyptus trees, eventual plantations that would be at odds with our way of life and destroy our environment.  The tourist companies would, in turn, expropriate our most beautiful and most sacred of places.

  1. The construction of the coastal highway has begun without any notification.  Even though it is occurring on our lands and will therefore directly affect us, we were neither approached nor consulted.
  2. Our territorial rights, inherited from our ancestors, are being violated.  The same goes for our rights under the indigenous law (#19,253), which guarantees both the recognition and protection of current indigenous lands.
  3. The coastal highway project, in its present dimensions, guarantees the deterioration of our culture, the plunder of our ancestral lands and the loss of our most needed natural resources, effects that will only lead our pueblo Huilliche towards extinction.
  4. Under the banner of poverty reduction and market integration, a development situation is being crafted for us, one that will actually increase poverty in, and migration from, our communities.
  5. The ministry of public works has failed to respect the agreements already reached with those Huilliche families whose land would otherwise be subject to forfeiture under article 95 of law # 1,939, passed in 1977 by the military junta.  This move leans on the questionable legitimacy of the decree which states that land titles can be expropriated by the federal government so that they may be used for roads, trains, telegraph offices and any other public works deemed necessary by authorities.  The utilizing of such a decree not only represents a trampling of property rights, it also enters into illegality in that it goes against the indigenous law of 1993.
In virtue of the above, we communicate:

a)Our denouncement of the planned coastal highway in its entirety, along with the arrival of the logging, the mining and the fishing industries.  They represent a clear and present threat to the economic and cultural reproduction of our communities.

b)Our demand for the right to be informed and to participate in the decisions that will affect our livelihoods.

c)Our demand for the recognition of our territory and the right to own our lands and waters.  We demand the respect for our nuke mapu and the cultural diversity offered by our pueblo Huilliche.

d)The need to build and better our local roadways as an alternative for the reduction of poverty and isolation.

e)Our right to be supported by government institutions in our efforts to develop with identity and dignity, and with respect for our future.

United behind the merits of our case and of the rights that we hold:
The communities of,
Lafquen Mahuidam de Caleta Milagro
Mapulafquen de Pulamemo
Trafunco Los Bados
Caleta Hueyelhue
Caleta Condor
Mahuidantu de Bahia San Pedro
Junta General de Caciques de la Butahuillimapu

Francisco Morey
Coalition to Protect the Coastal Range of the Los Lagos Region fmorey@telsur.cl (fmorey) 
Tanslated by Anthony Rauld