Monthly Archives: May 2011

Text of Chile’s Speech at UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

On May 16-27, 2011, the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held its tenth session. On Friday, May 20th, Sebastián Donoso — Chile’s Special Advisor on Indigenous Affairs — gave a speech. The official written version of that speech (in Spanish) can be found here. Below is our translation into English. The speech discusses Chile’s efforts with respect to Indigenous peoples, focusing primarily on its attempts to solidify a consultation process that aligns with international law. The speech also makes specific reference to the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, who were the focus of international attention earlier this year. Continue reading

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Church Offers Assistance in Ending Mapuche Hunger Strike

Over the weekend, two prominent members of the Catholic Church in Chile made statements and offered assistance with respect to the current Mapuche hunger strike, which started more than 75 days ago. The Church officials called on all branches of the Chilean Government to find a way to end the strike. Meanwhile, the condition of the Mapuche hunger strikers seems to be worsening according to the latest doctor reports. Continue reading

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One Year After Starting Land Claims, Rapa Nui Hold Demonstration

On Saturday, May 28th, at 10 a.m., Rapa Nui communities held a demonstration on Easter Island to draw attention to their land rights’ struggles. The demonstration takes place exactly one year after the Rapa Nui began holding discussions with the Chilean Government about their lands and land rights. The organizations involved indicated that the march is taking place to show the communities’ continued commitment to reacquiring their lands. Continue reading

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Mapuche Health Network Rejects UPOV Convention 91 on Transgenic Seeds

On May 11, 2011, the Chilean Senate voted to adopt the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91), which essentially gives new rights to the “breeders” of new seed variants — meaning any person who has created, discovered, or developed a seed variety. In practical terms, this legislation means that it is illegal for farmers to save seeds from their crops and use them later on, so long as those seeds have been patented. The Convention will uniquely affect Indigenous peoples and some organizations are considering legal action against the State. Continue reading

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Appellate Court Upholds Military Court Acquittal of Four Mapuche

On Wednesday, May 25th, the Court of Appeals in Concepción upheld a military court decision to acquit four Mapuche individuals who had been charged with attacking police, a prosecutor and damaging police property in 2008. The Military Court of Valdivia made its decision on December 16, 2010, after a trial that did not involve “protected witnesses” — witnesses whose identities are never revealed to the defendants before, during or after the trial. And based on the evidence in that trial, the individuals were absolved of any wrongdoing in the military judicial system. Continue reading

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Minor Conflict Between Mapuche and Police Near Liquiñe

At approximately 5 p.m. on Monday, May 23rd, Chilean police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as a confrontation broke out between the officers and some Mapuche individuals in Trafún, which is in the Panguipulli comuna. Although no major injuries were reported, at least one juvenile (17-years-old) was struck in the neck by a rubber bullet and injured. Continue reading

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After 70 Days on Hunger Strike, Mapuche Prisoner Hospitalized

On Tuesday afternoon, May 24th, after 70 days of hunger striking, Ramón Llanquileo was hospitalized due to complications from his fasting. Llanquileo was taken to a hospital in Los Ángeles for observation and treatment. He had briefly been taken to the hospital last week for heart problems, but was relatively quickly returned to the prison. According to Natividad Llanquileo, who speaks for the prisoners, Llanquileo and the other three strikes are in stable condition although they continue to weaken. Continue reading

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CONADI Director Visits Mapuche Language Education Projects

Jorge Retamal, the Director of CONADI (the National Indigenous Development Corporation) recently visited Mapudungun education programs in the Araucanía and Los Ríos regions. The projects are designed for rural children and involve Mapudungun (the Mapuche language) classes taught by a werken (a Mapuche spokesperson/leader). These particular programs are mandated by law, as any school with more than 50% Indigenous students is supposed to offer native language classes. Continue reading

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Mapuche Community Petitions Supreme Court to Stop Power Line Project

On Friday, May 20th, the Temuco Court of Appeals filed a petition of protection on behalf of the Mapuche community of Felipe Nitrihuala against a high voltage power line construction project in there area. The project is being undertaken by the company, Transnet, which received final environmental approval to begin construction on December 1, 2010. Shortly after the project was approved, the Mapuche community went to court on the grounds that it poses a serious risk to their health, their culture (in the form of sacred sites), and that they were not appropriately consulted as is required under international and Chilean law. Continue reading

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Mapuche Continue Hunger Strike; One Hospitalized

On Thursday, May 19th, one of the four Mapuche prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for 66 days was hospitalized. Specifically, Ramón Llanquileo was taken to the hospital in Angol due to several health problems — most notably related to his heart rate. According to one report, Llanquileo was not actually treated at the hospital due to some procedural problems, but was instead returned to the prison. Llanquileo is one of four Mapuche prisoners who have been striking to protest alleged due process violations that occurred in a trial in which all four were convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Continue reading

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