On May 22, 2013 the Qom (or Toba) people of Argentina were granted a hearing at Argentina’s Supreme Court to discuss their ongoing land dispute. For years, the Qom have tried to get the Argentinian government to recognize their land rights in the province of Formosa, along the Paraguay border. The Qom community’s efforts have included round table meetings with government officials, protests, encampment in Buenos Aires, among other strategies. Oftentimes, these protests have ended in violence as was the alleged case on May 22nd, when reports that more than 50 Qom had been injured by police and more than 100 had been arrested. Continue reading
On May 21st, Chile’s President Piñera gave his annual address in front of Congress for the final time before his term ends. The address is given annually and highlights both accomplishments from the previous year as well as goals for the forthcoming year. In this year’s address (full address in Spanish can be found here), Piñera offerred a few words about Chile’s indigenous groups and his administration’s goals with respect to those peoples. Continue reading
Kunza is the language of the Atacameño or Likan Antay people. Although there are more than 6,000 Atacameñós living in Chile, it has long been believed that their language was extinct. Although much of the language had been recorded and exists on paper, native speakers of Kunza no longer existed. That said, recent efforts by the Atacameño people, coupled with assistance from Conadi (Chile’s Indigenous development corporation), are trying to change that by teaching individuals to once again can speak in their native tongue. Continue reading
According to Radio Universidad de Chile, one week after the Chilean appellate court in Copiapó sided with several Diaguita communities and granted an injunction to halt all action at the Pascua Lama mine (owned by Barrick Gold), the mining company filed a motion to ask the court to reconsider its injunction. The court will decide whether to accept or deny the request to reconsider in the next few days. The Diaguita communities’ lawyer, Alex Quevedo, said Barrick Gold’s request was an unusually rare maneuver and “lacked substance”. Continue reading
From 500 to 1500 C.E., the Rapa Nui people utilized a type of gardening that relied on small, semi-circular stone structures known as “manavai” to protect plants from wind and other harmful elements. Now, a joint project involving the municipal government on Easter Island, the Chilean national forestry corporation (CONAF), and the Inter-American Development Bank, are seeking to restore a number of these ancestral gardens — the ruins of which many still exist. The long-term goal is to preserve Rapa Nui agriculture, promote cultural education, and increase ethno-tourism on the Island. Continue reading
On Wednesday, April 10th, the Court of Appeals in Copiapó unanimously ordered all work at the Pascua Lama mine halted until further notice. The order was a result of a lawsuit brought by the Diaguita communities of the Huasco Valley in northern Chile and alleged that the mine’s work was violating multiple environmental regulations including regulations that protect three glaciers in the area from environmental harm and contamination. The decision marks the second time in the past 12 months that a Chilean court has halted a mine based on a lawsuit brought by Indigenous communities. Continue reading
In a press release dated April 9th, CONADI (the Chilean government’s Indigenous development corporation) announced that it would invest approximately US$350,000 in Mapuzungun language courses (the language of the Mapuche people) in the Araucanía Region. The funding would operate much like a block grant and would go “directly to the communities, without intermediaries” according to Deputy Director Germán Riquelme Reuss. Reuss also stated that the goal was to have Mapuche language and culture taught in the traditional way by an elder with knowledge of those things. Continue reading
Yesterday, Georgy Schubert Studer, Chile’s Defensor Nacional (the head public defender in the country) released a number of statistics related to Chilean criminal justice in 2012 and discussed some concerns he had with them. Specifically, Studer highlighted two statistics related to Indigenous peoples living in Chile:
- First, he mentioned that Indigenous peoples — along with foreigners and migrants — were disproportionately held in pre-trial detention (which can occur at several different points prior to trial). Approximately 7% of all cases of pre-trial detention involved Indigenous individuals.
- Second, Studer indicated that although only 1.5% of arrests result in a finding of an illegal arrest, nearly one-quarter (23.7%) of those illegal arrests involve Indigenous individuals.
Last week, the Chilean government released the results of its 2012 Census efforts. The data collected on Indigenous peoples living in Chile for the Census was substantial. Specifically, the information collected indicated that there are more than 1.7 million people living in Chile who identify as Indigenous. As a percentage of the population, Indigenous people living in Chile now officially account for over 10% of the total population with more than 1/3 of all Indigenous peoples living in the nation’s capital, Santiago. Both the raw number of Indigenous people and the percentage of the total population numbers are substantially higher than those collected in 2002. Continue reading
Note: Written by Claudio Fuentes. The original Spanish version of this article appeared in Chilean online newspaper El Mostrador. The original English translation of this article first appeared on the Chileno website.
Militarizing Araucanía: A Bad Idea
Is it advisable to militarise Araucanía? Although the Government has not for the moment invoked any state of emergency, it has taken two steps. A decision was made to restrict the freedom of individuals that began with major police roadblocks and involving the armed forces with intelligence work. Indeed, in addition to an increase in the number of police officers, the President announced that police would establish a “special area of control and security in those places that have been most affected by these crimes, so as to establish permanent control daytime and night, both vehicular traffic and the identities of persons travelling in the most affected areas. ” Continue reading