February 17, 2003 PUBLIC DECLARATION
Pehuenche natives from the communities of Alto Bio Bio.
Endesa vs Mapuche.

The Chilean government and the four families whose land must to be transferred to ENDESA have been negotiating since mid-February. The objective of the negotiations is to come to an agreement before traveling to Washington, D.C. the week of February 24th to appear before the InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights. The content of the negotiations has not been made public, and has even been kept secret from the other families affected by dam construction who had protested with these four families. The following is their request that the final agreement address the social and cultural issues, and in particular the fact that their traditional cemetery will be flooded.

We consider that the negotiations being held have left out the themes and fundamental rights of the Pehuenche communities of Alto Bio Bio.

1.- We consider that the agreement only refers to economic recourses, and does not deal with the real issues. In other words, these agreements are over how much ENDESA will pay for the transferred lands rather than the effects of dam construction. Furthermore, the economic solution will affect only a few Pehuenche families, while dam construction will affect all the Pehuenche communities.

2.- This agreement does not deal with the fundamental issues such as the cemetery that will be flooded, their right that our sacred places be respected, respect for our religiosity and spirituality, and the respect for our family members who are buried in the cemetery, as well as our past generations and our ancestors.

3.- Considering that these fundamental themes have been neglected, we continue resisting, we demand an explication from the Chilean government that explains the proposed solution for our cemetery, our sacred places, and with our deceased family members, as well as our cultural rights. This explanation should be provided before traveling to Washington, D.C.

4.- If we do not receive an explanation, we will send a communication to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights of the OAS indicating that the agreement has left out issues of fundamental importance for the Pehuenche.

5.- We ask all the Mapuche organizations to act in solidarity with the Pehuenche who continue to resist and to not accept an agreement between the four families and the Chilean government that does not represent all the families affected by the construction of the Ralco dam.

María Curriao
President of the Indigenous Organization of Quepuca Ralco
Member of the Lonko Council of Alto Bío Bío
Concepción, February 17, 2003