Mapuche Alienation and the pursuit of Ancestral land rights

By Nina Dean* - 18th July 2010

Without land, there is no autonomy, no independence, no freedom. Land provides sustenance, self sufficiency, liberty and independence. Without it one becomes the slave and servant of an external tyrant. To live free of tyranny one must preserve ones right to land and the vital resources and subsequent autonomy which it so richly and freely provides.

Marx defines `the alienation of man', as the precursor to dependence, poverty, loss of spirituality and as the prime catalyst for capitalism. With the introduction of industrial mechanisation introducing the use of industrial tools for production, man is thus disenfranchised from his spiritual self; from true inter dependence and self sufficiency.

Therefore the just and vital Mapuche struggle for ancestral land rights and self determination are of fundamental importance for the Mapuche and all indigenous peoples and nations across the globe.

During the pacification of Araucania in Chile and the campaign of the desert in Argentina, the then newly independent republics embarked upon phase one of a violent strategy of genocidal assault upon the Mapuche people; as part of this long term strategy the newly formed states intended to remove or block access to the source of free and sustainable sustenance, ancestral land. This age old universal domination strategy was and continues to be simple yet effective, without free access to land and its natural resources a human being is instantaneously rendered impoverished and thus denied autonomy, freedom and choice.

Whilst during phase one of this attempted state assimilation/enforced dependence strategy culminating in the alien republican control of life supporting resources, we witnessed the partial impoverishment of the Mapuche. Reducing the capability of the Mapuche to live freely and sustainably from their own land whilst simultaneously annexing Mapuche territory. During the later 19th and throughout the 20th century the states have maintained this pre contemplative, status quo with a steadfast grip, held in suspension. Whilst during this period the situation has to a large extent suited the post colonial states, their current need to expand and to exploit further resources to aid capitalist growth has led to a renewed pre meditative assault upon the Mapuche nation, in what I would label phase two of the ancestral land rights conflict. In summary the republican long term assimilation strategy has been calculated and considered regardless of the fact that it has endured over two centuries.

The psychological profile of the republican state is one of static vision, a mono vision without diversification, it implies a long game, one in which the objectives are rigid and unchangeable, with clear unshakable intent. It must never be forgotten that the 20th century has represented merely a lull in the storm, a time to gather strength, to develop propaganda and new attack strategies and to fortify its defences; whilst this century may have appeared on the surface a dormant time of reflection, beneath the surface it has been a time of pre-contemplation for the two republics, aware that the passage of time is an ally and not a foe. Much like the life and death game played by a cat with its prey, the state attacks, subdues and isolates the victim giving him time to pause at his leisure, whilst the prey lies stunned and terrorised beneath his paws, the predator exhibits no emotion as he considers his next assault. The states are Machiavellian, shrewd, cold and calculated and will advance by any means necessary their ultimate long term aims and objectives.

Whilst under the previous left wing government of Chile its thinly veiled true agendas were sugar coated and covert, it is revealed with far less diplomacy by the leadership of the current right wing government, President Pinera the true objective of the Chilean state when he announced in 2010 that `'we will see the second pacification of araucania''.

As the Mapuche are daily confronted by the evolution of phase two of the conflict, more deadly and final than the violence, oppression and devastation levied against them in phase one, it becomes apparent that resolute resistance is of crucial importance, national unity, solidarity and leadership are doubly necessary. Whilst modern nation states such as the Chilean and Argentinean republics have no concept nor notion of spiritual values and their universally pervasive effects, the cosmic vision of the Mapuche and other indigenous peoples remains the greatest defence against them. Belief is more powerful than a thousand arms and whilst it is true that an aggressor can kill the dreamer, he can never kill the dream.

Whilst the consistent exhibit of Mapuche national symbolism, flags, music, cultural representations, historic accounts and commemoration of Mapuche heroes and national days of importance and the like provide an externally visible projection of the strength of presence and continuity of the unique identity of the nation in contrast to the national symbolism of the republican states.

The spectre of a republican vision of the future for the Mapuche would see landless Mapuche living precariously under the watchful eye of the winka latifundista, paying taxes for the very land, resources and produce which for centuries had belonged to his ancestral nation and the economic migration of impoverished Mapuche to sprawling capitalist metropolis where identity means little and the individual represents merely a means of added fodder for the capitalist furnace. Where dreams are but a yearning for a glimmer of a distant memory of liberty, justice and self determination.

*Vice secretary
Mapuche International Link


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