AMERICA/CHILE - Local Catholic Church appeals for solution to Mapuche conflict

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - In a statement “Peace in Araucanía, Fruit of Justice”, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejnadro Goic Karmelic, has given voice to the local Church desire for a solution to the Mapuche conflict. “The death of a young man, violence against innocent people and forceful measures adopted, are an alarming symptom of a conflict which we have failed to heal by going to the root causes” the Bishop said, adding that the situation is complex “a context of ignorance, prejudice and discrimination against the indigenous peoples, where policies have revealed their inadequacy and a powerful exploitation on the part of a few hinder possible agreements with agitation and violence”. Sad to say “concern for the Mapuche people, which many sectors of society say they nourish, is not accompanied by real listening to the voices of the people's representatives, in order to understand their culture”.
In his statement Bishop Goic Karmelic acknowledges the government's decision to set up an inter-ministerial commission and hopes a real solution will be reached to meet the "requests of Mapuche communities and individuals and businesses victims of unreasonable violence which leads no where ”.
For his part Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of the diocese of Tecumo said “the Mapuche conflict is essentially a question of cultures with different peoples living together; not only Chileans and Mapuche but also Germans, Jews and Arabs”. Hence the need to “foster mutual knowledge with the Mapuche people, to become familiar with their customs and ways of interpreting juridical questions. At the national level they feel they are Chileans, but they wish to preserve their Mapuche identity”. Bishops Vial said the challenge is to “face the issue from a more general point of view, not only conceding land, but trying the understand this different style of life ”. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 17/172008; righe 25, parole 348)