Indigenous Mapuche Communications


By new IAWRT member, Ivonne González Monsalve and staff

Marimari Sdomo, Poyen Chalin lamngen, (an affectionate greeting, Sisters). I live in the Araucanía region of Chile, which was autonomous Mapuche territory (Wallmapu) before it was conquered by the Chilean military in the early part of the 

last century and re-named as part of “Chile”. Before Chilean independence, our people successfully resisted invasion by the Spanish colonizers.

Our biggest problem is the dispossession and usurpation of our land by the Chilean State. The State favours large landowners, forestry, mining and agri-industry, allowing companies with transnational capital to exploit our territory indiscriminately. 

In this context, corporations constantly exploit our natural resources. For example, mining companies have settled in Lleu-Lleu, a coastal highway is being built in the Lake Budi region (Mininco forestry road), the pulp and paper company has a pipeline that dumps waste into the ocean at Mehuín, there is the Pelale Airport and the hydroelectric dams of the Alto Bio Bio, and the list goes on. 

Another serious problem is the persecution and criminalisation of communities who are in the process of restituting Mapuche territory, Wallmapu, by the repressive apparatus of the Chilean State. Lack of access to land to sustain us is forcing our young people and women to migrate to the city.

It has been a constant struggle with the Chilean State for recognition of the Mapuche as an Indigenous people and for it to return our lands.

This process has been very painful for our people because it has resulted in the militarisation of our territories (by the Special Forces of the State police), raids on communities and violations of the human rights of our girls, women and traditional authorities (Longko, Machi, Ñgenpin). This has led to nearly one hundred Mapuche political prisoners held in prison on the basis of cases that we say have been falsified or lack proof. 

There is widespread discrimination by the state prosecutors for any case related to the Mapuche cause. For example, The courts appoint a prosecutor exclusively mandated to investigate attacks on forestry companies. When the prosecutors don’t find incriminating proof, they will frame people and use protected witnesses. These prosecutors don’t seek justice, they only accuse and criminalize our people, in complicity with the press, which consistently refers to us as subversives and terrorists, in the headlines.

Why am I an Indigenous social communicator?

I have been working with Radio Werken kvrrvf – Mapuche Indigenous radio, since its beginning in 2004, as an interviewer presenter and director, to spread the use of new technologies, and for the maintenance of the the Mapauche culture. We also have a facebook site, the Werken website  is translatable to other languages.

I do this because autonomous Mapuche communications are a fundamental tool to override the barriers to communication imposed on us by the state and the media of the oligarchy, to explain and report on the conflicts that plague our Mapuche nation.

We believe that by developing our autonomous media, we can make known to the Chilean people, the reality that we live as Indigenous peoples. We believe, as well, that by having our own media, we are giving ourselves an essential tool to portray the conflicts in our communities and to raise awareness among our own people about the Mapuche culture, using our own language (Mapudungun) and Indigenous forms of oral communication.
What are our needs?  To successfully manage our own media so as to remain autonomous as Indigenous social communicators. We need to build our capacity and to acquire new communications technologies. 

 Editor’s note:

Amnesty International’s 2015-6 report cites allegations of excessive use of force and arbitrary detention during police operations against Mapuche communities. Human Rights watch World Report 2016 also reports on the use of counterterrorism law, particulalry the use of a crimes against private property section, which had previously formed the basis for terrorism prosecutions of Mapuche indigenous activists. Both organisations corticise the continuing use of military courts to try human right violations by security personel.

A United Nations special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, reported in 2013 that “The anti-terrorism law has been used in a manner that discriminates against the Mapuche. It has been applied in a confused and arbitrary fashion that has resulted in real injustice, has undermined the right to a fair trial, and has been perceived as stigmatizing and de-legitimising the Mapuche land claims and protests.”Mr. Emmerson warned in 2014 that he situation in regions inclusing the Araucanía regions wass “extremely volatile” partly due to the misuse of the counter-terrorism legislation within the context of “an inexcusably slow” process of ancestral repatriation.” Read Full report on Mission to Chile.

A bill presented by the government in November 2014 to replace Chile’s counterterrorism law was still under discussion. Similarly an attempt to reform Chile’s absolute ban on the right to abortion, to decriminalise it in curcunstances of  rape or incest or in cases of serious foetal malformation was still pending before Congress at the end of the 2015 year.

The above article was adapted, in consultation, from the message below from Ivonne. 

MariMari  Sdomo,poyen Chalin lamngen( un afectuoso  saludo Mujeres Hermanas, aquí les envío una breve descripción de nuestra situación como pueblo y mujeres comunicadoras indígenas Mapuches disculpas por no enviar antes solo por falta de tiempo y velocidad de Internet.
Nuestro mayor problema es el despojo y la usurpación de nuestras tierras por parte
Del Estado Chileno, favoreciendo a latifundistas principalmente,  forestales , Mineras,
Agroindustria, permitiendo a estas empresas de capitales transnacionales explotar
Nuestro territorio de manera indiscriminada y usurera. En este contexto las
Corporaciones depredan constante nuestros recursos naturales a través de, por
Ejemplo, las mineras que se han instalado en Lleu-Lleu, carretera de la costa del
Lago Budi (ruta de la forestal Mininco) Ducto Celulosa Celco, Mehuín, Aeropuerto
Pelale, Hidroeléctricas alto del Bio Bio, entre muchas otras.
Otro grave problema es la persecución y criminalización de las comunidades que se
Encuentran en proceso de restitución del territorio del pueblo Mapuche, Wallmapu,
Por parte de los aparatos represivos del Estado chileno, sumado a la carencia de
Tierras y procesos de migración de la juventud y mujeres  a la ciudad.
Una lucha constante con el Estado Chileno por el no reconocimiento de nosotros, los
Mapuche, como pueblo originario, así como la restitución de nuestras tierras.
Este proceso ha sido doloroso para nuestro pueblo fundamentalmente, porque ha
Tenido como consecuencia la militarización (fuerzas especiales policiales) de los
Territorios, allanamientos en las comunidades, violación a los derechos humanos de
Las niñ@s, Mujeres y a nuestras autoridades tradicionales,Longko, Machi ñgenpin trayendo como consecuencia
casi un centenar de presos políticos Mapuche con montajes faltos de criterio y
Desconocimiento de parte de los fiscales con exclusividad a las causas Mapuche.
Porque soy comunicadora social e indígena?
Los medios de comunicación autónomos mapuche son una herramienta
Fundamental para traspasar los cercos comunicacionales que nos impone el Estado
Y los medios de comunicación de la oligarquía para visibilizar y denunciar los
Conflictos que nos aquejan como nación Mapuche.
Además el desarrollo de medios autónomos nos permite visibilizar hacia el pueblo
Chileno la realidad de los pueblos originarios. Consideramos que los medios de
Comunicaciones propias son una herramienta fundamental que permite
Visibilizar los conflictos en las comunidades y concientizar a nuestra
Gente en la cultura mapuche a través de nuestro propio lenguaje y la oralidad
Y nuestras necesidades?
Autogestionarnos para mantener una autonomía como comunicadoras sociales indígenas. Para capacitarnos, avanzar en las nuevas tecnologías comunicacionales etc.