Chile's mayor of Renaico, Juan Carlos Reinao, is resigning his position as president of the Association of Municipalities of North Malleco in support of a Mapuche community protesting against the construction of a landfill in their territory.
“Before being a mayor or holding any public position, I am a Mapuche,” Reinao told a press conference Thursday. “I understand their demand, I think it’s legitimate and I’ll begin the process to leave my position and stand on the side of my people, of my condition.”
Members of the Mapuche community of Collipulli, in Malleco province, took the city hall of Reinaco, demanding Reinao resign his position with the association of municipalities, which approved the landfill without consulting the local population in direct violation of the International Labor Organization's Convention 169 on Indigenous rights.
Reinao was taking part in a seminar for Mapuche mayors and councilors when the city hall was seized, but left when he found out about the protest in order to hold a dialogue with the Mapuche representatives.
He explained the decision to build the landfill was not his and that the association of municipalities has been delaying the project since 2011. He then committed to resign his position in support of their demands.
The protesting Mapuches say the project was arbitrarily decided, representing a “new expression of environmental racism that has historically affected” the Mapuche people.
International human rights organizations have repeatedly asked the Chilean government to shut down garbage dumps and treatment plants on Mapuche territory, built without consulting the local population.
The Collipulli community and others have denounced the fact the landfill is being established on stolen territories under the protection of special forces.
The Association of Municipalities of Mellaco includes the municipalities of Collipulli, Ercilla, Renaico and Angol.