Chile: Human rights? Who are the Mapuche people facing?

Chile: Human rights? Who are the Mapuche people facing?

By Alfredo Seguel

In the end, the Mapuche communities have not only risen up to claim their historic territories or stop the serious impacts caused by forest plantations, but they are also directly facing the most powerful economic groups in Chile. This is the reason for having four Mapuches on the brink of death

At the end of 2002, while the Fishing Law was being discussed and voted in the Senate, the ecologist Marcel Claude, director of the Terram Foundation, accused the Zaldivar brothers (Adolfo and Andrés) of holding shares in fishing companies for what he demanded the disqualification of the right to vote. However, the accusations were only the tip of the iceberg for the corrupt political network and economic groups.

Although, the Zaldivar maintain direct ties with the main economic group of Chile in the fishing sector (Angelini), if it is to be disqualified, then a great majority of parliamentarians should be disqualified when dealing with laws related to poverty, taxes and the Rights of the Native peoples in Chile, among other matters.

These same economic groups maintain a direct and indirect relationship with political power, in the case of the Angelini and the Matte, the main owners of Chile, the main controllers of the forest market and therefore, the main "owners" of land that have latent conflicts. with Mapuche communities.

So, when we are in the presence of the current marginality in the legislative recognition of Mapuche Rights, the lack of recognition of the condition of People and therefore their political Rights through constitutional reforms, special laws or international instruments such as the Convention of the ILO 169, it is clear that they have been prevented by different political actors in the congress, who have promoted a campaign of terror, cataloging that in this way what they call the "Mapuche conflict" would worsen, which would provoke separatist or independence tendencies, but the Hidden foundation is to protect the interests of their clients or clients, these economic groups, which supply them and their Parties, which cover the electoral expenses of both the right wing (UDI or RN); or as the ruling party itself (DC and partners), for example, however, none of the honorable are disqualified ... ..

But who are these powerful groups ?: "... Angelini, one of the owners of Latin America ...", published the magazine Poder in Mexico and the United States in reference to Anacleto Angelini, 86 years old, of Italian origin, with a personal fortune of about US $ 1.5 billion, considered by the Forbes list one of the richest men in the world.

Owner of Bosques Arauco, the largest forestry company in Chile and owner of different controlling companies of various Chilean and Latin American markets in areas of investment, finance, shipping, fishing, electricity, fuels, services and mining. Its main companies, in addition to the forestry ones, are: Eperva (fishing industry); Copec (oil company); Gener (energy) Antar Chile, among many others.

The Matte family is the other group of the select billionaires in Chile, owners of CMPC in the forestry area, whose main company is Forestal Mininco, also participating in other areas such as University, mining, pension funds and finance.

The levels of intervention of these economic groups is very wide in Chile, their business and family networks have demonstrated their enormous capacity to influence political parties, public powers, authorities, the media (mainly written and Open TV), even direct influences under study and opinion, among others.

This situation shows that it is not by chance that the Mapuche reaction to stop the damaging forest expansion in these territories is overwhelmed by police repressions, judicial offensives, communicational manipulation and complicity of authorities.

In the end, the Mapuche communities have not only risen up to claim their historic territories or stop the serious impacts caused by forest plantations, but they are also directly facing the most powerful economic groups in Chile.

The territorial conflict with the forestry companies has made it clear that it is not only a dispute over land or immediate issues, on the contrary, it has been a struggle to survive, a dispute for rights, dignity, recognition and the possibilities of a autonomous development.
The brake on forest expansion is also an attempt to prevent this activity from continuing to introduce further impoverishment, environmental damage and cultural deterioration to the Mapuche.

The fight against forest expansion has been projected not only as an attempt to recover the lost territory, nor only to stop the serious impacts caused, it is also to change the political relationship of the State towards the Mapuche People, because the groups that own the forest are the true controllers of the Chilean State. Its power is immense, but just as fearful in the face of the Mapuche presence.

The communities have already risen up, they have said their word, they have acted, but it is not only enough to mobilize in rural areas, they must denounce, unmask, attack from different fronts if they really want to stop their invasion and change the current political relations they maintain. in the oppression of an entire People and their Rights, a conflict that has already claimed a victim, the death of Alex Lemún Saavedra assassinated by the Chilean Police inside a property of the Mininco forestry company.


Arauco, CMPC, Terranova-Masisa and Copihue constitute the large business groups of the Chilean forestry sector. Below is the identification of some of them:
1) Terranova, its main company is Forestal Millalemu, with a forestry heritage in Chile of 120,000 hectares distributed between the VIII
and IX Regions, with forestry investments also in the USA, Brazil and Venezuela, controlled by the Swiss billionaire businessman Stefan Schmidheiny.
2) Empresas CMPC, its main company in the forestry sector is Mininco, with a forestry heritage of approximately 500,000 hectares, concentrated in the VIII and IX Regions. With investments in the sector in addition to Chile, in Uruguay, Argentina and Peru. Company controlled by the Matte Family (Bernardo, Heliodoro and Patricia). It also maintains pulp, paper and remanufacturing plants.
3) Empresas Arauco, its companies in the sector are Bosques Arauco, Forestal Arauco, Forestal Cholguán, Forestal Celco, Forestal Alto Paraná. And Bioforest in research. In Chile, its forest heritage is 906,033 hectares. To the year 2000.- With investments in the sector, in Argentina and Uruguay. Company controlled by the Angelini family (Anacleto Angelini). It also maintains sector investments in cellulose, paper and construction panels.


These economic groups maintain a close relationship with various actors in Chilean political events. A huge list of former ministers and under-secretaries in the Pinochet regime, a period in which the projection and wealth of these companies was consolidated and ensured, later joined their interests, forming part of their board of directors and administration or contractual business relationships. However, the level of recruitment not only involved the managers of the neoliberal economy of Pinochet, but also the politicians of the agreement, an example of this is that of Alberto Etchegaray, former Minister of housing in the first government of the agreement (1990 - 1994), militant of the Christian Democracy, who as of December 31, 2000, was very well paid for being part of the board of Bosques Arauco (period 1999 and 2000). Etchegaray, who is a Commercial Engineer, in addition to forestry has been involved with different companies and organizations. Vice-president of Esval (sanitary service company); He is also part of the board of the Banco del Desarrollo; and the National Foundation for overcoming poverty ????.
Another is Eugenio Ortega, a militant of the Christian Democracy, former Deputy, husband of Carmen Frei, sister of former President Eduardo Frei, who also on December 31, 2000, received considerable remuneration for being part of the board of directors of Bosques Arauco (period 1999 and 2000). Ortega is also a member of the board of the National Foundation for the Overcoming of Poverty ???? and he is coordinator of the preparation of the report on human development in Chile for the United Nations Program (UNDP).

The unusual thing about these last two cases is that these people are officially endorsed and recognized to talk about poverty, inequality, economic distribution, however, on the other side of the coin, their ($) currency ($) has been An integral part of companies that manipulate the economy, such as forestry, and that keep vast sectors in conflict and impoverishment. Are these the "impartial" representatives to evaluate the current conditions of the social situation in Chile? With what morals to speak?

In the same order, Felipe Zaldivar Larraín, is Chairman of the Board of the Eperva fishing company (Angelini), he is the brother of Andrés Zaldivar, president of the Senate in Chile and Adolfo Zaldivar, senator and president of the Christian Democracy in Chile, who also holds shares in the Angelini fishing companies, a case recently uncovered in the Fisheries Law vote.
These politicians have already been summoned and questioned by senatorial colleagues and comrades for their positions contrary to environmental and fishing laws in 1997, where they were even indicated as Angelini's men when looking after their interests (Qué pasa magazine, 1380, sept. 1997, Hidden vote); Or in the complaint of the ecologist Marcel Claude to the same senator who finally forced him to disqualify himself from voting on the fishing law (November / December 2002).

In another case is Sebastián Piñera Echenique, Senator, President of the National Renovation Party, who in June 2001 appeared as part of the board of directors in one of the main Angelini companies "ANTARCHILE SA" (business analysis, lemon financial, 2002) .

A well-known case is that of Juan Agustín Figueroa, former Minister of Agriculture in the first Government of the agreement (1990/1994), in his direct relationship with the forestry sector in the conflict zones of Traiguén, owner of the 1,800-hectare Nancahue forest estate and that is claimed by Mapuche communities in the Temulemu sector.

Follow and add the list of influence of networks in political power, in the case of the Matte (CMPC companies). From the point of kinship lines, the Mattes form the main part of the trunk of Chilean aristocratic families, linked to the Right, but they also group ties with political actors of the current ruling party.

Patricia Matte was the sister-in-law of the late DC leader and former minister of the Frei Montalva administration, Claudio Orrego Vicuña, father of the former biminister of housing and urban planning, Claudio Orrego Larraín.

Through the PPD-PS block, the Mattes have also known how to maintain good contacts, being their main link, thanks to the degree of kinship, Máximo Pacheco Matte (former DC senator and current ambassador) - (Qué pasa magazine, April 2000).


Both the Angelini and the Mattes maintain a permanent meeting point integrating the main controlling groups of the Chilean media, either through transactions or social relationships. In the case of the Mattes, (Bernardo), he is part of the board of Televisión Nacional de Chile, the main broadcast television medium. His sister, Patricia, on the Advisory Council of Channel 13 (Catholic University television). In the case of Bernardo, along with being part of one of the largest fortunes in Chile, he also receives remuneration at the expense of the Treasury, for his performance on public television.

The Mattes also have their meeting point with the main controlling group of the written media, the Edwards, owners of EMOL (El Mercurio, La Cuarta, Las Últimas Noticias, La Segunda, a chain of regional newspapers, etc.). who, in addition to being involved in "historical" transactions, maintain social performance in the Fundación Paz Ciudadana.

Because of these close ties of power and intervention, both the Angelini and the Mattes have managed not to be directly involved in what they have called the "Mapuche Conflict." The permanent situations of denunciation that the Mapuche communities make against "Bosques Arauco and Mininco" are made a dent in the written and television media, which is part of a strategy of communicational machination.

Precisely, it is these same means that are compliant and protective of forest interests, which in recent times have diverted central attention from territorial and environmental conflicts to stigmatize them as violent, terrorist or illegal acts, without giving a minimum space to the problems. background. News from these media has a much greater propaganda effect than political speeches. Their dissemination is biased towards public opinion, because the reader or auditor does not have the possibility to verify them.

The media have been used as trenches between Chilean society and the Mapuche people, influencing states of opinion, which fosters racist or simple rejection attitudes. Thus, we are all used to seeing the Mapuche situation and the conflicts with foresters on television or reading in the newspapers on the pages of police events or citizen security.

They echo the events that involve some act of a criminal and police nature, although it later turns out that the Mapuches have not been responsible or direct promoters of the related events. Such a relationship, now in use, ends up causing a Mapuche-violent-terrorist terminological association, which is enormously damaging.


Unlike the Angelini, the Mattes (Eliodoro and Bernardo mainly) in the game of Power, make full use of their collateral relationships, with their aristocratic lineage among Chilean families, their commercial, political, cultural and even religious ties.

The Angelini, on the other hand, simplify the force of their power in buying, selling or hiring.
The Mattes, in addition to intervening directly in the media such as open TV, have also been involved in a series of spaces for generating opinions within Chilean society, such as the Center for Public Studies (CEP), a foundation that brings together to the business world, mainly forestry. Founded and directed by Eliodoro Matte. The Angelini also intervene in it, as advisers. The CEP intervenes in public opinion projections, studies and research and also serves as a meeting place between government authorities and the business world.

Precisely the leaders must go to this institution to negotiate their points of view; Another is the Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo (LYD), the ideological base of the Right in Chile since 1990, dedicated to study and research and feeds both the UDI and National Renovation with content and the results of its publications generate a great impact on the public opinion as they are widely publicized by the media. From here have come various content against the Mapuche political movement.

The LYD includes Patricia Matte, a member of the council in an advisory capacity.
Another instance is the Fundación Paz Ciudadana, a private entity dedicated to "combating crime in Chile", with full support from governmental and legislative powers. Bernardo Matte is here, as Vice President and Treasurer.

Its president is Agustín Edwards (owner of EMOL). Another institution with "social purposes", dedicated to poverty through projects and scholarships, is the Andes Foundation, integrated into its board of directors by a series of individuals dependent on forest economic groups (Brunner, Leniz and Guzmán).
Follow the list among others, with the Kazt Foundation or Legionaries of Christ, in relation to the Matte.
Likewise, direct participation in the university academy is another clear element of intervention in generating opinions, as is mainly the Finis Terráe University in Santiago, also in reference to the Mattes.

Lastly, their direct participation in union groups maintains latent the power relationship between the forest owners and other economic groups: Corma (Wood Corporation); Sofofa (factory development society), powerful voices in the face of Chilean political and social powers.


"The growth of the forestry sector plays a fundamental role in the country's economy ... Gross geographic product (GDP) .. exports .. source of work .." says CONAF (National Forestry Corporation), a State body.

"Forest plantations contribute fundamentally to the environment" ... "Forestry activity promotes sustainable social, environmental and economic development over time for a balanced growth of the country" ... Says CORMA (wood corporation), representative entity of the logging companies in Chile.

CONAF says: .. "Forest plantations correspond to those forests that have originated through the planting of trees of the same species or combinations with others, made by man"…. Development, progress, economy, work, environment, renewable resources, forests ... are the repeated advertising messages offered in propaganda by forestry companies, CORMA, public bodies or political authorities to endorse and justify the activity of exotic monocultures. Any criticism made by Mapuche or environmental groups of the forest industry will be considered an unpatriotic act, fought with strong offensives of different kinds.

The great power of the timber industry in Chile has caused the submission and subordination of those who administer the Chilean political powers to these economic groups, even acting in complicity to keep public opinion deceived in the face of an activity that has only brought destruction and greater impoverishment. .

In August 2002, faced with the public onslaught of the Minister of Agriculture in defense of the forestry sector, Mapuche and environmental organizations maintained:…. "The State cannot continue to maintain" Zánganos "at the expense of the pockets of" all Chileans "and in view of this, the people
You cannot continue to deceive him by saying that monoculture forestry is progress and development for the Country "...

"What is the true contribution to progress? If these companies, because they have the characteristics of" transnational "companies, do not pay taxes in Chile ... In addition, areas where there is the highest concentration of plantations are where there are the highest rates of poverty, indigence and emigrations "… .. the organizations pointed out. (Konapewman grouping public statement, Observatory of environmental conflicts, OLCA and Coordination of Communities in Environmental Conflicts IX Region, August 2002).

The concrete thing is, that in the forest localities with a high index of Mapuche demography between the VIII and IX regions, the progress, development and workforce that the public and private sectors shout is not demonstrated, on the contrary they are places where the elderly are concentrated levels of indigence and poverty. Towns that are core centers of forestry are practically ghost towns and where there is a notable increase in emigration. Simply, forest expansion has ended up perpetuating local poverty and increasing Mapuche impoverishment.

So, what is the local contribution of forestry companies that is so widely noted?


Considering the highest Mapuche population index by communes, where there are the highest forest concentrations, below is a box according to the poverty line, according to the households that are classified as indigent or non-indigent poor according to the method used by the Ministry of Planning, MIDEPLAN (Casen survey, year 2000) *.

Province - Commune - Total Poor and indigent%

(Arauco Province)
Lebu: 41.7%
Cañete: 37.1%
Tirúa: 30.3%

(Malleco Province)
Collipulli: 37.2%
Ercilla: 52.9%
Lumaco: 38.3%
Los Sauces: 48.5%
Bring: 41.6%

(Cautin Province)
Carahue: 41.4%
Lunch car: 34.6%
Galvarino: 46.3%


Despite the increase in timber exports and all the benefits and protectionism of the State to the forestry industry, unemployment and job instability in this sector are increasing, also intensifying the impoverishment of localities that suffer the attacks of their monocultures.

It could be thought that the enormous lucrative development for the economic groups controlling the forestry companies would be reflected in the occupation of this sector, increasing its workforce, however the reality shows a totally different picture. Taking the years 1997 and 2000 as an example, the labor force decreased by 12%, considering the different occupations in the various forestry activities (forestry and extraction, primary industry and secondary industry).

1997: 133,167
1998: 123,921
1999: 122,665
2000: 117,542

Infor source

In July 2000, Jorge González, President of the Chilean Federation of Forest Workers, denounced the labor instability and exploitation of workers within the logging companies, pointing out "that only between 25% and 30% of workers employees in the forestry sector in Chile have a permanent job.

The situation of those who work directly on the plantations is that 75% to 80% work on the basis of temporary contracts, suffering from continuous labor instability and exploitation. Loggers and chainsaw operators work for short periods and are paid according to productivity standards set by the companies themselves.

The fact carries two negative consequences for the interests of the workers. One is that the risk of accidents is increased as operators try to cut as much wood as possible during long working hours, to the detriment of their own safety.

The percentage of accidents in the sector is comparatively high, having reached the figure of 15%.

Social security does not always cover accident risks, while official level inspections are not effective enough to ensure adequate working conditions.
On the other hand, the unionization of temporary workers is difficult, since their priority is job stability and they know that companies do not look favorably on workers affiliated with the union, who are perceived as a potential threat, "he denounced González (Source: WRM Bulletin No. 36, July 2000).


Unemployment leads to misery and poverty to emigration. It is almost paradoxical to point out it for its logical sense, but it has been making an obstacle with the concealment of the close relationship that exists between forest expansion, unemployment, poverty and emigration at the local level.

According to the preliminary result of the 2002 Chile Census, the population would have increased by an annual average of 1.2%, with a percentage of Intercensal variation (1992 - 2002) of 12.8%. The VIII region of the Bio Bio increased its population in the decade by 6.9% and the IX Region of Araucanía by 10.7%.

However, in the localities where there is a greater expansion of exotic monocultures, with a high Mapuche population and which reveals the highest poverty rates, the majority of the population decreased, notably, highlighting the lack of employment as the main reason for emigration, which shows that logging companies are not meeting these expectations.

It is also incomprehensible that in the localities where the main industrial facilities of the forestry companies are located, emigration has increased with a severe decrease in the population.

This is the case of CMPC's cellulose plants in Laja (Laja plant), Nacimiento (Santa Fe Plant) in Region VIII and Collipulli (Pacific Plant), Region IX; or its forest plant in Mulchen and of the same Nativity in VIII. Huge industries that have had no effect on improving the high rates of poverty and unemployment in the towns where they operate.

Regarding the relationship of monoculture expansion and population emigration through widely forested communes with a significant Mapuche presence, the figures are categorical:

Arauco Province - VIII Region
Commune Population 1992 - Decrease Population 2002 - Variation%
Contulmo: 6,736 (1992) / 5,842 (2002) / (-13.0% decrease)
Curanilahue: 33,631 (1992) / 31,789 (2002) / (- 5.5% decrease)
Bio Bio Province - VIII Region

Commune Population 1992 Population 2002 Variation%
Laja: 24,350 (1992) / 22,190 (2002) / (- 8.9% decrease)
Antuco: 4,062 (1992) / 3,911 (2002) / (-3.7% decrease)
Mulchen: 29,934 (1992) / 28,943 (2002) / (- 3.3% decrease)

Province of Cautín - IX Region
Commune Population 1992 Population 2002 Variation%
Carahue: 25,500 (1992) / 25,433 (2002) / (- 0.3% decrease)
Galvarino: 14,076 (1992) / 12,771 (2002) / (- 9.3% decrease)
Loncoche: 23,934 (1992) / 28,943 (2002) / (- 3.3 decrease)

Malleco Province - IX Region
Commune Population 1992 Population 2002 Variation%
Collipulli: 22,767 (1992) / 22,287 (2002) / (- 2.1% decrease)
Ercilla: 8,842 (1992) / 8,772 (2002) / (- 0.8% decrease)
Los Sauces: 8,995 (1992) / 7,519 (2002) / (-16.4% decrease)
Lumaco: 12,258 (1992) / 11,249 (2002) / (- 8.2% decrease)
Purén: 13,917 (1992) / 12,796 (2002) / (- 8.1% decrease)
Renaico: 9,197 (1992) / 9,131 (2002) / (- 0.7% decrease)
Traiguén: 20,622 (1992) / 19,314 (2002) / (- 6.3% decrease).

Source: Chile 2002 Census Preliminary Report

The preliminary results of the 2002 census in these localities surprise even the population projections of the National Statistics Institute (INE), whose estimates were very different from the majority of cases in these communes. **

* Alfredo Seguel is a member of the Konapewman Group of Temuco

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