Issues Raised by Rapa Nui Remain Unresolved

Authorities from Bienes Nacionales (National Assets) and the Sub-secretary for Desarrollo Regional (Regional Development), Miguel Varas, met with the Rapa Nui Parliament the first week of August to resolve the issues raised by Rapa Nui who have occupied various parcels of land on the island. These individuals are demanding, among other things, restitution of their ancestral lands. Some of the options discussed included the titling of a portion of the contested lands to the Rapa Nui involved and compensation payments through a lease agreement if the Chilean government continues to use ancestral lands. Although the meetings failed to result in a clear resolution to the conflict, and despite the peaceful nature of the takeovers, special forces from the Chilean mainland have since been sent to the island to force the demonstrators to vacate the occupied lands.

The President of the Parliament, Leviante Ariki Ariki, in an interview with Radio Universidad de Chile, made it clear that the demands of the Rapa Nui are principally based in the restitution of lands to the Rapa Nui people. Leviante explained that for 50 years, the Chilean state has occupied Rapa Nui lands. Other concerns relate to the migration of outsiders to the island and the elaboration of a special statute for island affairs. In the same interview, Leviante also indicated that if the government fails to respond to the current demands being raised, the Rapa Nui people will separate from Chile and unite with Polynesia, a threat that the Chilean government has downplayed, by pointing out that the Rapa Nui Parliament does not represent the viewpoints of all the Rapa Nui people.

Leviante also strongly rejected the proposition that the current protests are related to the naming of Pedro Edmunds Paoa as the governor of Easter Island, an issue that had been raised in some news sources. Nonetheless, Pedro Edmunds Paoa has since resigned his position as governor, and an announcement as to his replacement is expected any day.

The Government’s approach to handling the issues on Easter Island has received criticism. Some of this criticism has come from representatives on the Valparaíso Regional Council, who are from the islands of Rapa Nui and Juan Fernández, and who presented a public declaration rejecting the Government’s approach to addressing the conflict. The public declaration also raised broader issues concerning the Government’s administration of the island, and particularly, issues with the head of the Sociedad Agrícola y Servicios de Isla de Pascua, Ltda, Daniel Platovsky. Platovsky apparently called Enzo Muñoz, one of the island’s regional council representatives, a liar during an interview about the situation on Easter Island and Platovsky’s own involvement in the naming of Edmunds as the island’s Governor. Via a letter to President Piñera, the Regional Council has called for Platovsky, a businessman and personal friend of Piñera, to be replaced by someone of Rapa Nui ethnicity, and is considering the creation of an investigative commission to examine potential conflicts of interest that Platovsky might have.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Chile, Rapa Nui
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