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By Alejandro Navarro Brain
Some 11,500 tons of garbage are deposited monthly on Mapuche lands; Of the 28 garbage dumps in the region, 19 are within or very close to communities and the rest in poor peasant sectors
For a long time, the Mapuche communities of the Ninth Region have raised a demand, different from the claim of ancestral lands, and that has to do with reversing a concrete and systematic action of discrimination against them: the eradication of garbage dumps and landfills. installed in the territory where they have lived for centuries.
Today, some 11,500 tons of garbage are deposited monthly on Mapuche lands; Of the 28 garbage dumps in the region, 19 are within or very close to communities and the rest in poor peasant sectors; 15 have completed their useful life; several of them are without sanitary authorization and others have only obtained it in the early and mid-1990s. Of the total landfills, 25 are without resolution of environmental qualification.
In recent months, when they were not heard, support organizations and families belonging to the coordination of Mapuche communities in conflict over garbage dumps and konapewman, have carried out the symbolic and peaceful closure of the Boyeco landfills, in Temuco; that of Ancúe, in Gorbea; that of Llancamil, in Perquenco; that of Ranquilco Alto, in Nueva Imperial; that of Llancahue and Quechuco, in Pitrufquén; and that of Pelahuenco, in Galvarino, among others.
For the Mapuche, who build their culture in an indissoluble relationship with the land, it is legitimate to reject this ‘occupation’ of Mapuche territory and to promote the eradication of garbage dumps, which are an updated version of colonialism. The closure of the garbage dumps is necessary to stop one of the most racist practices that has affected the Mapuche people: being the garbage dump of the cities, receiving serious impacts on the environment and people's health, without any respect for their culture and their society.
An example of this is the death of the Mapuche boy Aquiles Epul, from Boyeco, in August 2000. Doctors determined that he had been a victim of the fearsome "killer bacteria", a situation that was related to the existence of the garbage dump. The families presented a protection appeal that was finally rejected by the Temuco Court of Appeals in 2001. It was in the framework of that fight that they learned of the existence of a new project that sought to keep the landfill running until 2025.
Nor is it presentable that in the effort to distort this legitimate demand of the Mapuches, in the face of incidents such as the fire of a disused backhoe at the Boyeco landfill in November 2002, it has been attributed to reactions from the mobilization of radical Mapuche groups , thereby fostering a strong police presence in the sector, which only sought to intimidate the affected families who were mobilizing to demand its closure.
Although the Regional Prosecutor herself publicly pointed out that the fire of the machinery was not motivated by the so-called Mapuche conflict, the delay in clarifying the authorship of such attack has allowed this fact to continue to be used as an excuse to postpone solutions in time, and despite the fact that there is an Environmental Impact Study approved to expand and improve the management of the Boyeco landfill, presented by the current administrator, these changes have not been fulfilled after two years.
Despite this situation, which should lead to the concern of the regional authorities, Conadi has been the only body that has expressed concern about the fact that the percolated liquids that emanate from the Boyeco landfill contaminate the Estero Cusaco, which due to its course, it transfers this contamination to 17 other indigenous communities in the region.
Little or nothing has been said about the G-523 School, with an enrollment of 120 students, being only a few meters from the landfill.
Not only the lack of land or limitations for subsistence are permanent concerns of the families that live with the garbage dumps.
The mere presence of a landfill limits any possibility of development. What possibilities are there in a pollutant concentration area? The mere fact that urban populations deposit their garbage in these lands, undermines their self-esteem; sustainability; agricultural productivity and marketing. In fact, most of the affected families are beneficiaries of social programs by the State.
The operation of garbage dumps has also caused the alteration of their way of life, since many have had to radically change their subsistence activities. The possibilities for agricultural, livestock and tourist development are absolutely limited. This also contributes to many Mapuches migrating to urban areas seeking new possibilities.
For the worldview of the Mapuche people, their relationship with the territorial environment is a balance between the forces of nature and their way of life. The existence of garbage dumps on their lands produces irreparable damage to the territorial culture. The violation and contamination of swamps, trees such as cinnamon, medicinal plants and sacred spaces where their ancestors live, generate serious imbalances due to the breakdown of the elements of territoriality.
Therefore, they are required to take the appropriate measures now. Communities have waited too long. We trust that Mayor René Saffirio will keep his word and in 90 days there will be concrete solutions for more than 200 families whose culture, way of life and health are affected by the existence of a landfill, like the one in Boyeco, which although it counts With an approved project, it continues to function as a simple garbage dump.
In the immediate future, we hope that regional authorities will consider the particularities of each sector in which they intend to authorize the operation of landfills or landfills. The Mapuche land and what it represents deserves respect and cannot continue to become the garbage dump of the cities. It is time for state policies to respect our origins.
By Alejandro Navarro Brain