AMERICA/CHILE - Proposal of the Church regarding the autonomy of the Mapuche people, an open question in the country

Wednesday, 3 May 2017 politics   indigenous   evangelization   bishops  

Santiago (Agenzia Fides) - "Accept the essential truths of the failure of State negotiations - Mapuche people, with the obligation to negotiate peace without fear of national diversity and autonomy": this is the proposal of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Chilean Bishops' Conference, made to the Presidential Advisory Commission for Araucanía.
This proposal had already been submitted to the dialogue Table for Araucania in October 2016 but had been rejected, as the Bishop of the diocese of Temuco, Mgr. Héctor Vargas, pointed out to the Commission. Today it is reproposed and made public because it is still considered present in the light of new dialogues to resolve the historical issue of the Mapuche people.
Few but major events have awakened the "Araucania issue and Mapuche people" in the public opinion: the population census in Araucania, the public Letter of the Council of all Mapuche lands to the President of Chile, the delivery of more than 500 titles of Land ownership to more than 500 Mapuche families in the area.
The Letter from the Council of all Mapuche lands points out that "conducting a census does not imply public policies for the Mapuche people", and recalls that other censuses conducted before were only used to manipulate the data filed by the State to avoid any possible compensation to the Mapuche population. However, the Letter reiterates the willingness to dialogue with the Government of Mapuche organizations.
The national press, as the note sent to Fides from a local source informs, stressed the importance of the role of the Catholic Church for the meeting between Government Authorities and Mapuche Representatives. Regarding the proposal of the Church on the Mapuche people's autonomy, former Governor of Araucania, Francisco Huenchumilla emphasized that "the voice of the Church is very powerful, because it emphasizes a very delicate point for the country. We should not be afraid to discuss. We want to strengthen our unity while recognizing diversity". (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 03/05/2017)