“We are asking the government to consider returning [the island],” said the leader of Indigenous communities Lafkenche de Quellón, Cristian Chiguay.
Guafo island, with over 70 kilometers of coastline, is the habitat of an unusual congonilla tree and red carrageenan seaweed, as well as marine fauna like sea urchins, blue humpback, sei, and southern right whales, as well as orcas and dolphins.
The landmass also houses fur seals, endangered marine otters, and southern sea lions. The island serves as a refugee to the largest colony of sooty shearwaters and is the nesting territory of Magellanic penguins.
The people of Guafo Island in #Chile experience a strong connection to the ocean around hem. As nature needs their help, these #communities are seeking protection for this area of great biological and cultural importance. Video by @WWFChile (EN sub).https://t.co/uNOezTXvCx
Added to its value as Native communities’ scared territory and reservoir for rare species, the island holds a historical exceptionality. In 1834 Charles Darwin visited Guafo, considered as the “Galapagos of Chile.”
The paradisiac island is the property of Paul Fontaine and Rodrigo Danús, who is the nephew of Pinochet’s former economy minister and ally General Luis Danús Covian. Environmental activists renewed the debate about the trade of a patrimonial territory after Fontaine and Danús listed the island for sale in 20 million.
“We see [the island] as a source of life and spiritual power. For us, it’s not a business, it doesn’t have commercial value,” Chiguay added.