Over the last week, several Rapa Nui clans have begun peacefully occupying lands that they claim as part of their ancestral territory, but that the Chilean government currently occupies and uses. The takeovers began on July 29 with a piece of land occupied by the offices for the Ministerio de Bienes Nacionales.Since then, nearly 70 individuals have occupied 7 different parcels of state-owned land, including lands surrounding the Ministerio de Obras Públicas, the Ministerio del Interior, the municipality, a school, a museum, and the hotel Hanga Roa. The mobilization is led by eight Pascuense clans who demand the restitution of their lands, and is supported by the Rapa Nui Parlament. Legal processes to resolve such land conflicts have apparently been stalled for over a decade, leaving hundreds of Rapa Nui people still waiting for resolution.
Following a meeting last night in La Moneda with the ministers from the Secretario General de la Presidencia and Bienes Nacionales, the governor of the 5th Region, Raúl Celis, will travel to the island today to open a dialogue with the Rapa Nui protestors. In addition to discussing land rights issues, a representative from the Rapa Nui parliament has also expressed the need for legal reform to allow greater inclusion of Rapa Nui in the island’s administration and greater autonomy and decision-making authority.
The protests have sparked some division within the Rapa Nui themselves, as not all members of the Rapa Nui people supported the decision to protest government inaction through the physical occupation of lands.