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Saturday, April 16th 2016
Priests in Chile concerned about escalation of State-Indigenous Mapuche Conflict
Translation: Mapuche Foundation FOLIL

DECLARATION OF THE MEMBERS OF A RELIGIOUS ORDER AND PRIESTS THAT WORK IN MAPUCHE TERRITORY

Published by the Team of Crónica Digital – April 13, 2016

Mapuche Children and Chilean Police

Stresses peaceful means for a just outcome

As men and women of the Church that work in Mapuche territory we would like to express our sentiments concerning another escalation of violence in the territory. Our faith in Jesus, Our Savior, and the Kingdom of justice and peace moves us to speak:

1. We feel profoundly affective by what we call an increasing pressure on the Mapuche territory, which is producing violence, lack of communication, mistrust and polarization.
In much of the territories where we offer our services, we see that this pressure comes from a way of life that is based on consumption and whose paradigm is the monopoly of lands and extraction of resources.
We see this in the current territorial conflicts for water (hydroelectric power plants), for the land (lumber industry), for the sea (industrial fishing), and – gravely – in landfills and power cables. These current conflicts are all related with the industrial activities that make a manner of intervention that is threatening the life of the Mapuche communities.

2. We regret and reject the violent acts that this pressure on the ancestral territory of the Mapuche is causing; the militarization of the territory, the judicial persecution of many of the community’s men and women, the burning of homes, the people injured by “confrontations”, boys and girls affected by this climate of conflict, intimidation and threats; and as we have seen recently with the burning of Christian places of worship, the only thing that this does is polarize society to an even greater extent as well as make relations more tense. These types of acts only produce more distrust amongst local and regional cohabitants, which does not benefit anyone.

3. We regret this deep chasm in the community. National and local society is ever more polarized. The atmosphere between the government and the communities is increasingly antagonistic. The lines of communication are too weak, worn out or even cut. This mistrust has also become entrenched between people, groups and in many cases, between communities. It would appear to many that the solution is to impose one’s own interests at all costs, excluding those of the other and discarding the constructs of the plural society in which we live.

4. This antagonistic atmosphere will neither create peace nor justice. It is neither a Christian logic nor a democratic one. From a truly Christian point of view, we need to rescue trust and openness to one another. We need to sincerely search for the grace of reconciliation and recognition instead of vengeance and exclusion.

5. We recognize the violence of the innumerable abuses carried out against the Mapuche nation. But it is clear to us that the answer and the solution is not more violence, more fires, more police aggression. It worries us that the conflict continues to polarize to subsequently further extremes through intentional fires, shooting firearms, repression of the communities by police, arbitrary detention, physical harm to inhabitants and armed police forces, the violation of the rights of children and a long list of events that destroy the community. The path to the judicialization of the conflict by the Mapuche communities’ reclamations has been clearly disqualified as a way towards a solution, by the same judges and specialists on the subject. Criminalizing the demands of a community that is looking to recuperate their rights, which are recognized by international treaties, will not lead to a real solution. The country should take over the political character of the Mapuche community’s claims, recognizing them constitutionally and generating real spaces that guarantee their participation in decision-making with regard to the topics that affect them and which they are responsible for.

6. We regret how the Catholic Church, that has been involved with the cause of the rights of the Mapuche people, is ever more distant and quiet, incapable of mediation or interpellation in search of a dialogue for the construction of justice that brings true peace. It seems as if we have lost the prophetic strength of the Gospels with regard to the challenges of a plural and intercultural society in which the indigenous communities reclaim their place. It is clear that the perpetrators of the violence in la Araucanía are diverse, but we all carry the responsibilities and the consequences and each one according to their place in society. The Church, because of its own vocation and historical responsibility to the Mapuche community, cannot avoid the role that pertains to it in this work of contributing to understanding and the search for the common good in the Mapuche territory. It is enough to collect the teachings of the Church’s Social Doctrine to recognize the permanent violence among the Mapuche communities in la Araucanía. From the plunder of their lands to their political autonomy, the poverty and social segregation have gravely damaged the Mapuche nation. In the last decades the growing damage to nature and its creatures in the ancestral territory, promoted by a corporate elite that cannot contain its eagerness for profit, it has become the battleground against an economic model that looks to conquer and colonize the last ancestral spaces of the Mapuche people. Pope Francis made this clear in his Encyclical Laudato Si’.

7. We know that the Mapuche nation, increasingly aware of its rights, is not in favor of a violent solution, but nevertheless it will not accept the decades-long delay in the enjoyment of their territorial rights, cultural rights and rights of self-determination. How to achieve this? The governments have failed in succession. The document “Nuevo Trato” and its proposals did not achieve anything. This is an embarrassment considering that it was a document from the Chilean government and consisted of concrete proposals. Not to mention the successive “meetings to open dialogue” that the governments have failingly implemented in turn.

8. This path is not easy, but we must try to rebuild trust. It is clear that when a person has been hurt it is more difficult to speak of closeness, trust, reconciliation and peace. Yes, it is very difficult, but surely if we walk along the path of just reparation we can do it. This is hard, but not impossible. Slow, but not impossible.

9. We believe that there should be fundamental gestures to cement this trust. Two fundamental gestures taken by the State that could pave the way in order for “the word” to triumph over violence and can be the way to peace:

a) Restitution: Urging the State’s political power to concentrate in the restitution of the dispossessed lands and returning them to their sustainable productivity for the communities that have always lived in them and can claim their identity in them. So much energy and resources are wasted in looking for the perpetrators of violent acts instead of investing these resources in dialogue and a feasible way toward restitution.

The companies must be politically pressured to “give” or sell these lands. This implicates much audacity, because these companies have a lot of power; not only economically, but also politically, and they do not appear to see the effect of their avarice. Perhaps considering expropriation again as a last resort, as is proposed in “lnforme de la Comisión Verdad Histórica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos Indígenas”(pg. 577) given to the care of President Lagos (2003). These would be real steps toward a new treaty. This restitution should be the expression of forgiveness that we ask of the indigenous communities and all of those that have suffered the consequences of the occupation of Mapuche territory. We need to understand and say – to ourselves – that we have been mistaken; all of us, the State, the corporations, civil society and churches. We need to ask forgiveness for the evil that we have done by building a society that abused and continues to abuses the rights of the indigenous communities.

b) Reparation: This means redefining polices that promote profit when it comes to territory with another paradigm, one that is different to the economy based merely on extraction. We need to regain a view toward “our Common house” as Pope Francis invites us to do in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ and that the indigenous communities have been fighting for so long to maintain. It is not enough to have territories if the conditions of inequality are maintained and make it impossible to live on the land. For families and communities to truly choose what type of economy they want to have, it will be necessary to put in effort of great magnitude to offer alternatives sustainable products. Nutritional sovereignty is the right of the communities to produce their culturally adequate foods in a sustainable way, meaning, their right to choose their own nutritional and agricultural system. This consists in – at the very least – offering the same resources that have been given to the lumber industry to a sustainable agricultural model. Repairing the harm as much as possible will generate new possibilities for cohabitation; it is an act of justice that will bring peace.

10. These tremendous steps can allow us to come closer to one another and look at each other with trust. But it implies an enormous internal strength. To trust is to risk. It is about trusting and waiting for the result to be satisfactory for all and not for a few. This is about believing that without the other, however different they may be, it is not possible to construct a fraternal society.

Pedro Pablo Achondo SSCC, Rio Bueno
Javier Cardenas SSCC, La Unión
Juan Fuenzalida SJ, Tirua
Carlos Bresciani SJ, Tirua
David Soto SJ, Tirua
Oscar Gutierrez, Alto Biobio
Jaime Riquelme, Alto Biobio
Fernando Díaz svd, JUPIC Araucanía
Hernan Llancaleo, Coordinator of Pastoral Mapuche Concepción
Palmira Alcamán, CC de Vedruna, Padre Las Casas

Santiago de Chile, April 13, 2016
Crónica Digital