Temuco, Chile (Monday, 12-21-2015, Gaudium Press) – “In Araucania there is a complex situation. On the one hand there is a historical debt with the Mapuche people. On the other hand, acts of violence increase and spread, with all the problems that this entails”, says His Exc. Mgr. Hector Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B., Bishop of the diocese of Temuco (Chile), speaking on the historical conflict regarding the Mapuche people.
Mgr. Vargas said in a statement sent to Fides: “The regional government is carrying out a worthy job with the referendum among the Mapuche community. This is what was missing and what society needs”.
Mgr. Vargas said: “The pastoral activities of the diocese of Temuco reach a thousand Mapuche communities. And this work also means enhancing the dignity, culture and the rights of the Mapuche people, promoting institutions that improve their quality of life, such as the formation of micro-enterprises and increasing the productivity of their land”.
The Bishop appreciated the government’s announcement that by the end of the year, it “intends to deliver the project of the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the creation of a Council of Peoples to Congress” and added: “The Church hopes to give a contribution in this phase. We have to solve the problem of creating new communities, see the terms of parliamentary representation of indigenous peoples and study the criteria for the recovery of land”, said Mgr. Vargas. In the Chilean Araucanía, about 700 km south of the capital, the so-called “Mapuche conflict” surfaced in the 90s where some indigenous communities have been demanding that certain lands they claim for their own but which are now the property of logging and farming companies and individuals be turned over to them. These lands have always been considered as “ancestral heritage”. In recent weeks there have been incidents of violent clashes between indigenous Mapuche and members of some communities of farmers in the area.