Eleven Mapuche communities living at Lleu LLeu’s lakeside announced they would “occupy” their ancestral lands that “legitimately belong to them” and take care of the lake by themselves, as Chilean policy in the Mapuche territories aims for militarization.
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“The aim of this claim is to protect our Lleu Lleu lake in all aspects -spiritual, cultural and environmental- and be able to autonomously decide which is the development model we want, in pro of our peoples’ well being in communion with our Ñuke Mapu [Mother Earth],” the statement published on Wednesday reads.
The statement argues that the peace process started by the Chilean State in 1870 has only brought misery and suffering for the Mapuche people, and that the dictatorship established in the 1970s continues today, since the 1980 constitution is still in effect.
“Through its policies, the State has pressured and persecuted our brothers and sisters, jailing us and forcing us to live depending on their subsidiary policies, aiming to control even the lifestyle our people has to follow, dividing us and transforming us into consumers and individualistic people to keep us in capitalism,” the statement continues.
About 500 members of the communities started a process to repopulate Lleu Lleu’s lakeside, hoping to expel the government’s security forces and any other private company from the territory, using their “autonomy rights” over their sacred lands, avoiding any action that could trigger the companies’ defense mechanisms.
“We won’t burn the plantations, but we will eliminate them so we can use them to build bridges, canes, houses, furniture and any other product we can use to inhabit our stolen land.”
The communities are aiming to change the production model to match their ancestral lifestyle and develop agriculture, stock breeding, apiculture and recover their forests so “water can come again and flow down from the Nahuelbuta mountain chain to feed the natural balance” of the lake.
The objective is to recover 20,000 hectares and the local communities are calling for other Mapuche peoples “who are suffering from the Chilean State attacks” to support them in their struggle and raise the “liberty and autonomy” voice.
The communties demanded logging companies and “repressive” forces that only “care for the interests of capitalism” to immediately leave the territory, since the natural “resources” they’re exploiting are considered by them as a fundamental part of their worldview and lifestyle since “remote times.”
The announcement was first made by the Juan Huichalao Porma community on Dec. 10, when they declared the lake to be part of the Mapuches’ “cultural, spiritual and biodiversity” heritage, describing it as “the last unpolluted lake in America.”
The community denounced the forestal company Minico’s ventures in the lakeside and demanded their immediate withdrawal from all territories “they have seized” with the government’s help.
It also demanded an end to Decree 701, a program imposed by Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in 1974 to help logging companies and allegedly stop erosion and deforestation, and which has replaced native forests with monoculture environments that have been detrimental to the territory.
According to some Mapuche communities, the decree has favored big enterprises in their ancestral territory, fostering a dispute between them and the Chilean government.
The Mapuche lands have been the target of the Chilean government’s militarization policies and large-scale economic ventures, including a controversial security plan that involved the “Jungle Comando,” a security forced trained in Colombia. After several problems with the operations in the Mapuche territory, President Sebastian Piñera said he would withdraw the Carabinero's Special Operations Group (GOPE), from the Araucania region.