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
On Tuesday, October 16th, President Piñera visited Ercilla and, more generally, the Araucanía Region of Chile. His visit was met with much protest even before his arrival, when Mapuche leaders told the press that Piñera “would not be welcomed” in the region. Despite these statements, Piñera arrived with a heavy police contingent and gave a speech denouncing Mapuche violence and calling the current Mapuche hunger strike “illegitimate and ineffective”. As expected, the Chilean President was met with many protests and his speech was interrupted at times by them. By the end of the day, at least eight Mapuche individuals had been arrested. Continue reading
On Thursday, October 4th, attorneys for four Mapuche prisoners who were sentenced for a variety of alleged crimes, including attempted murder of police officers, went before the criminal chamber of the Chilean Supreme Court. The attorneys argued for a mistrial and dismissal of the convictions based on a lack of evidence. Additionally, arguments were made to apply the American Convention on Civil Rights and the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples to the prisoners’ prison conditions, which could allow them additional prison privileges. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision with respect to these issues on October 24, 2012. Continue reading
On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Chilean Supreme Court released a decision ordering a Mapuche family in Tirúa to vacate the lands they had been occupying in protest or else the police force would be used to remove them. The lands in question were in the zone of Puerto Choque and are owned by a farmer, José Salazar Romero, who brought the lawsuit to stop the occupation on his land. The Chilean Supreme Court unanimously granted Salazar’s request. Continue reading