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Author Archives: Ryan Seelau
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the highest judicial body of the Organization of American States (OAS), reached a decision in favor of eight Mapuche individuals who claimed that Chile’s use of the Anti-Terrorism Law against them violated their rights. The decision was written on May 29, 2014 and was later made public during the week of July 28, 2014. The Court found that Chile’s Anti-Terrorism Law denied the eight Mapuche individuals a number of due process rights and ordered Chile to vacate their judgments against the individuals and to compensate them for the violations. The case was a historic victory for the Mapuche and their supporters who have been protesting the use of the Anti-Terrorism law against their people for many years.
For coverage on the case in English, check out the Santiago Time’s article.
The Court’s full decision (in Spanish) can be downloaded here.
Published yesterday in the Santiago Times, the Chilean Congress has voted to bring Chile’s Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Peñailillo, in for formal questioning on the current administration’s handling (since taking over in March) of the ongoing Mapuche conflict in the Araucanía. Some claim the move is political in nature, although there is a general consensus that violence over land and other rights has increased in the area in recent months. The complete article can be found here.
It was reported yesterday (01-15-2015) in Mapuexpress that the Mapuche-Huilliche Community of Wente Caulín was granted rights over coastal waters in Chiloé. Specifically, the coastal area near the community was designated an “Indigenous Peoples’ Marine Coastal Area” under Chilean law, which grants the community the right to use and administer the coastal region. The Mapuche-Huilliche Community of Wente Caulín is comprised of approximately 500 families and has fought for eight years to gain these rights. Continue reading
In recent days, the Chilean government, through CONADI (Chile’s Indigenous development corporation) has returned title to lands in two different Mapuche communities. In the Mapuche community of Manuel Levinao (located in the Lautaro commune of the Araucanía region), 250 hectares (~1 square mile) were returned after being purchased by the Chilean government for nearly US$ 1.8 million. Meanwhile, the Mapuche community of Los Maitenes de Rihue (located in the Cañete commune of the Araucanía region) was given land title to a small parcel of land (~.04 square miles) valued at US$ 76,000. This small parcel increased the community’s land holdings to 265.3 hectares (~1.02 square miles), which the Chilean government has been slowly acquiring and returning to the community since 1997. Continue reading
UN Instructs Chile to Return Indigenous Lands, Improve Consultation, and Redefine Anti-Terrorism Law
The United Nation’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) completed its 83rd session on August 30th in Geneva. During the session, CERD discussed Chile’s treatment of Indigenous peoples and offered some recommendations for the future. Specifically, CERD asked Chile: to speed up the process of returning lands to Indigenous peoples throughout the country; to improve Indigenous consultation, particularly with respect to natural resource development; and to “precisely define” crimes that fall under the Anti-Terrorism Law while ensuring the law is not used inappropriately against the Mapuche people. Continue reading
Barrick Gold, owner of the Pascua Lama mine that spans the Chile-Argentina border, appeared in front of a Chilean court again on Monday, August 26th. This time, however, the multi-billion dollar corporation admitted that it had violated environmental regulations in the construction of its mining operation. The admission comes four months after a group of Diaguita communities successfully won a court case against the corporation and effectively shut down their operations. Continue reading
On Monday, June 24, 2013, Pope Francis spent 45 minutes meeting and talking with the leader of the Qom community, Félix Diaz about his community’s struggles to have their rights recognized. During the interaction, Diaz discussed the plight of his people and the unwillingness of both the local and national governments to engage in dialogue with the Qom about their land rights. Additionally, according to Diaz, the Qom leader made certain to spend some time discussing the challenges that all Indigenous peoples throughout Argentina and Latin America face so that the Pope could better understand Indigenous struggles. Continue reading
On Wednesday, May 29th, the Chilean police force unveiled a test project designed to improve relations between the police force and the Mapuche people — a relationship that, in certain parts of Chile, has involved significant amounts of violence. The project involves the use of “ethnic patrols,” which consist of trained police officers of Mapuche ethnicity who speak Mapuzungun (the Mapuche language). These patrols will also utilize specially-painted vehicles. Continue reading
The Pascua Lama gold mine — owned by Barrick Gold — was ordered shut down earlier this year when a Diaguita community successfully challenged the mine’s environmental record in Chilean court. Ultimately, the company was fined US$16 million and ordered to resolve dozens of environmental issues. Today, in an interview with Reuters, Chile’s environmental regulator said that the infrastructure needed to resolve the issues could take up to two years to get in place. Even so, Chilean President Piñera publicly stated on May 30th, that he hopes the mine will one day operate again.
For more information in English, check out:
On Wednesday and Thursday (May 29-30, 2013), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights — a body of the Organization of American States — heard its first case against the Chilean state. The case actually involved three separate, but similar matters involving Mapuche individuals who had been subjected to Chile’s so-called Antiterrorism Law. The Antiterrorism Law has come under much criticism both internationally and from within Chile, and in this instance, the Mapuche individuals were presenting their testimony on how its application violated their human rights and were asking for its repeal. Continue reading