As March came to a close, more than 150 Atacameño individuals from communities spanning three countries — Argentina, Bolivia and Chile — came together in San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) for the third Encuentro de Pueblos Atacameños Sin Fronteras (“Meeting of the Atacemeño People without Borders”). The meeting resulted in the publication of a declaration titled, Declaración de Quetenas, which called on the governments of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile to recognize that the Atacameño people are one people despite the presence of international borders. The Declaration was sent to the presidents of those three countries urging them to take action to protect the rights of the Atacameño people.
The Declaración de Quetenas is historic in that it bears signatures from leaders of Atacameño communities from three different countries. Specifically, Yolanda Cruz (Argentina), Filemón Flores (Bolivia), and Rubén Reyes Aymani (Chile) signed the document and sent it to their countries’ respective presidents. Although the Declaration clearly had support from various communities, it is unclear at the time of this writing precisely how many Atacameño communities and leaders supported the document formally.
The Declaration consisted of five major points, which are summarized as follows:
- The Atacameño people reaffirm that they are unified beyond international borders.
- The Atacameño people reclaim their territory, which must be recognized and protected by the State. Specifically, in Chile it consists of the two Indigenous Development Areas of Alto Loa and Atacama La Grande; in Bolivia it consists of Quetena Grande and Quetena Chico; and in Argentina it consists of the Susques department.
- Natural resources are an asset of the Atacameño people and should be urgently respected. This includes land, water, minerals, forests, wetlands, salt lakes, flora and fauna.
- ILO Convention 169 is a valid law in each nation and should be fully realized and implemented through national legislation.
- Business activities that are being developed in Atacameño territories — specifically, large-scale mining — must contribute to the development of the communities involved.