President Sebastian Piñera announced in Temuco the ‘Araucania Drive Plan,’ a development roadmap for the mostly indigenous region in central Chile, aiming to bring investment to the region and pacify social unrest, but Mapuche organizations claim this plan aims to deepen the sacking of their ancestral territory.
In an interview with Radio Kurruf, Ana Llao, spokeswoman of the Ad-Mapu indigenous organization, says the plan aims to sack the ancestral land of the Mapuche by reforming Article 13 of the indigenous law and facilitating its sale.
“Today, Piñera comes to announce the lands are again adrift, allowing renting, selling, leave as collateral for credits,” sais Llao, “coming back to the 2568 and 2750 laws imposed by the military dictatorships.”
Chilean media reported the announcement as if it had already been a success. The government would promote 491 investment projects in the region during eight years, amounting to US$8 billion, hoping that private investment would triplicate that figure. The projects, Piñera and his Interior and Public Security Minister Andres Chadwick said, would focus on roads, drinking water, health, environment, and local businesses.
The plan is part of the National Agreement for Peace and Development in the Araucania, based on three main points: willingness for dialogue and peace; the recognition and preservation of cultural diversity, traditions, language, education, health and worldview of indigenous communities; and the comprehensive and inclusive development of the region.
Housing subsidies, infrastructure improvements and a dozen new hospitals for the Araucania region are also part of the plan, according to government materials.
Llao also declared that the indigenous organizations have as a priority the defense of their lands and culture, while the companies that Piñera is introducing aim to commodify instead of protecting them.
“They focus on commercializing identity and culture for the economic interests of individuals and the companies. We must be clear that has absolutely nothing to do with the local organizations,” she said. “Within the cultural diversity of the people we can respect that, but we must be clear those are two very different objectives.”
The plan also pretends to reaffirm the constitutional recognition of the Mapuche and other indigenous peoples, but without territorial autonomy and self-determination. The Chilean government has signed Article 23 of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples and Convention 169 of International Labor Organization, but Llao claims that the economic plan was developed without consulting the Mapuche people at all.
“It’s a symbolic recognition from the government, political point of view. It’s a unilateral recognition, as we demand a constitutional recognition that allows our autonomy, self and free determination of the original peoples,” continued Llao. “Under the constitution of military dictatorship… it’s difficult to speak about the autonomy and self-determination of the ancestral territory of our communities in which we can rule ourselves with our ancestral authorities.”