AMERICA/CHILE - Dialogue with the Mapuche, the government asks Mgr. Vargas to intervene

Monday, 4 July 2016 indigenous   area crisis   politics   poverty  

Temuco (Agenzia Fides) - The Chilean government is organizing an unprecedented dialogue meeting to address the Mapuche conflict in the area: this was confirmed to the local press by the Bishop of the Diocese of Temuco, His Exc. Mgr. Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B., who was asked by the Secretariate of the Interior of the government to take part as the main organizer to contact representatives of the Mapuche world. "This is an initiative that came from the government and should be announced very soon", said Mgr. Vargas.
Mapuche leaders, farmers and academics, such as the National History Award, Jorge Pinto are expected to attend the first round table. Also members of the forest ranger and radical leaders of the Mapuche movement are likely to be called to intervene: both sectors have already been contacted by the government, according to the note sent to Fides from a local source.
The Church's concern for the situation of the Mapuche people has always been a priority. In December 2015 Mgr. Vargas had told Fides: "In Araucania there is a complex situation. On the one hand there is a historical debt with the Mapuche people. On the other hand, acts of violence increase and spread, with all the problems that this entails. In the diocese of Temuco alone, the pastoral activities reach a thousand Mapuche communities and this work also means enhancing the dignity, culture and the rights of the Mapuche people, promoting institutions that improve their quality of life, such as the formation of micro-enterprises and increasing the productivity of their land" (see Fides 19/12/2015).
In the Chilean Araucanía, the so-called "Mapuche conflict" counterposes the 90 largest and most important ethnic group of the country to farmers and entrepreneurs because of the ownership of land, considered by the Mapuches "ancestral heritage". In recent weeks there have been several incidents of violent clashes between Mapuche indigenous people and members of some of the local farmers' communities (see Fides 18/04/2016 and 24/05/2016). (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 04/07/2016)