The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) appeals: "Please advocate for a fair dialogue between the Mapuche and the Chilean government"

German chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to the EU-CELAC summit in Chile (January 26 – 27, 2013)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) addressed a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, asking her to use the opportunity of the EU-CELAC summit – which will take place in Santiago de Chile this weekend – to talk to President Sebastián Piñera and to put forward the issue of a fair dialogue about the concerns of the Mapuche. "An escalation of the conflict between the Mapuche and land-users who are claiming traditional land of the natives is to be expected in Chile early this year," said Yvonne Bangert, the STP's expert on questions regarding indigenous peoples. Recently, a landholding couple died in an arson attack – the first victims of the conflict. The Piñera administration initially accused the Mapuche and declared a state of emergency, but the Mapuche themselves vigorously rejected the accusations.

"We appreciate the fact that first talks between the Chilean Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick and representatives of the Mapuche took place recently," said Bangert. "The Mapuche must be respected as equal negotiating partners and taken seriously, as stated in the UN ILO convention No. 169 which was also ratified by Chile. This must be more than lip service – and the Chancellor can help by taking a stand."

President Piñera expressed his intentions to define the recognition of the indigenous peoples in the country's constitution as soon as possible and to initiate a council for the indigenous people to represent their traditions and their culture. "But the Mapuche are also demanding political participation," said Bangert. "If this dialogue fails, the conflict will intensify due to the great disappointment of the Mapuche," said Bangert.

Before the summit, the STP published a 12-page memorandum about the Mapuche conflict, the causes and the status quo. According to the report, the Mapuche (800,000 to 1,400,000 members, depending on the source of information) are becoming more and more troubled about their unsolved problems. Members of the Mapuche's land rights movement are being treated as terrorists, prosecuted and sentenced to disproportionate prison terms or fines. In these cases, minors are being treated as adults. There have been several month-long hunger strikes with Mapuche natives risking their lives because they see no other way to create awareness of their situation. The Mapuche reported extraordinarily brutal raids, beatings and humiliations in prison.

You can download our Memorandum here.