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Author Archives: Ryan Seelau
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
Last week, on November 22nd, the Chilean Supreme Court issued its ruling on yet another indigenous consultation case and, once again, ruled in favor of the Chilean government. The Court found that consultation was not necessary in relation to the passing of a regulation that grants tourism concessions in protected areas — even protected areas that constitute ancestral lands for indigenous peoples. In doing so, the Supreme Court upheld — without additional discussion — the ruling made by the Santiago Court of Appeals in September. Continue reading
Last Friday, November 16th, the Court of Appeals in Santiago struck a blow to indigenous rights when it issued its ruling in three cases brought by indigenous communities and organizations to halt a number of geothermal exploration concessions that were granted without prior consultation. In each instance, the Santiago Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Energy Ministry, which was responsible for granting the concessions earlier this year. Continue reading
On Wednesday, October 24th, the Chilean Supreme Court unanimously overturned the convictions of two Mapuche men who had been charged with the attempted murder of Chilean police officers. The convictions were overturned on the grounds that evidence was lacking at the lower court level to prove attempted murder. Although the two men were not completely absolved of all crimes, the ruling was well-received and, on Thursday, the men called an end to their hunger strike that had been in progress for 60 days. Continue reading