On the 11th of May 1996 a group of Mapuches and Europeans concerned with the fate of the indigenous peoples and nations of the Americas, and in particular with the Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina, launched Mapuche International Link (MIL) in Bristol, UK.
This new organisation replaced the Comite Exterior Mapuche (CEM) which operated internationally since 1978 from their office located in Bristol. MIL’s aims and objectives have been developed and widened with a view to enabling indigenous peoples to contribute fully to their own development, and ultimately, to achieve their right to self-determination.
The work of our organisation continues in the spirit of the United Nations International Decade of World’s Indigenous Peoples (1994/2004) which was declared to focus world-wide attention on human rights violations, the destruction of environments and cultures, and the continuing struggle for recognition of indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral territories.
OUR AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
Mapuche International Link is an international organisation whose purpose is to promote the interests of indigenous peoples in the nations of Chile and Argentina. Our aims are:
- To raise awareness of indigenous peoples and their struggle for survival;
- To use modern communications to inform the international community about indigenous cultures, and in particular Mapuche culture;
- To develop contacts between Mapuche and European organisations;
- To develop links between indigenous schools in Chile and Argentina, and schools in other countries;
- To encourage European people to get involved in Mapuche communities’ activities;
- To encourage sustainable tourism by providing up to date information on the culture, politics and economics of the Mapuche people;
- To promote public awareness of all universally recognised international treaties and conventions adopted by the United Nations and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), which have a bearing on humanity and the rights of indigenous peoples;
- To emphasize the contribution of the Mapuche to the rich cultural diversity of the world, through exhibitions, publications, regular visits to U.N conferences and other international forums;
To develop and maintain communications with other Mapuche organizations and other indigenous peoples of the world.
THE MAPUCHE NATION
The Mapuche Nation is located in the south of the territories currently occupied by the states of Chile and Argentina. A little more than 130 years ago its ancestral territory extended from the south of the Bio-Bio river in Chile to the southern end of the continent, and in Argentina from the Colorado and Salado rivers to the Magellan Strait (see link). It is important to note that in January 1641 the Spanish Crown and the Mapuche Nation, through the Treaty of Quilin, established a border which was systematically ratified by both parties and later by the nascent states of Chile and Argentina.
In 1860 the most notable representatives of the Mapuche people convened a Futa Koyang (Great Constituent Assembly) with the aim of founding a constitutional monarchical government in order to legitimize their independence under international law. After the occupation of the Mapuche state’s territory, the Royal House of that government was established in exile in France, where it has been operating continuously ever since (see link). Both the monarchist government and the Mapuche people as a whole have never renounced their sovereign rights or given up their demands for the restitution of their ancestral territory. The main arena for the pursuit of these objectives has been social protest and international law. It is, therefore, here that the organizations mentioned above (CEM and MIL) have played and continue to play a supporting role.
The national identity of the Mapuche people continues today more than ever. This strong feeling failed to be extinguished by the policies of assimilation promoted by the states of Chile and Argentina, which not only sought to supplant their identity through a process of acculturation, but were set in motion by arms and bloodshed in an illegal and arbitrary manner with the purpose of achieving the subjugation of the Mapuche.
The main characteristic of these policies was discrimination and contempt for the culture of indigenous peoples, as well as the territorial dispossession and impoverishment of all the peoples who inhabited the southern cone of America. As a result of this vexatious treatment, today neither the Mapuche nor other indigenous peoples feel either Chilean or Argentinean. Their struggle centres on the restitution of their territory, autonomy and self-determination in accordance with Article 73 of the Charter of the United Nations, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and other international instruments.
There is a historical debt – both with the Mapuche and other indigenous peoples of the region – that has to be settled according to law. However, not only has this debt never been paid, but the struggle for the restitution of these rights has been unjustly criminalized and those who campaign for them are violently repressed and imprisoned.
Mapuche International Link is an organization dedicated to promoting the interests of the Mapuche people on both sides of the Andes mountain range. As its name indicates it has an international character since its members are of several nationalities. Solidarity and diversity are one of the fundamental pillars on which it is based.
We want to make it clear that MIL is a non-profit organization; it has never received and receives absolutely no money from any government, agency or public or private entity. The tasks of our organization are carried out voluntarily by the members of the organization, who do not receive any payment for their work.
Likewise MIL does not have any political or religious affiliation, nor moves for any particular agenda beyond the interests of the Mapuche people. Our organization welcomes anyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or age. Above all, MIL has an integrative character of any trend of thought that, among all things, is based on respect and observance in the norms of international humanitarian law.
MIL endeavours to raise public awareness of universally recognized treaties and conventions adopted by the United Nations and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), which relate to human rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples.
MIL will continue to promote the interests of the Mapuche nation. It will also aim to highlight the issues of all American indigenous peoples and other indigenous people worldwide.
First revision: 11th May 1996
Second revision: 24th November 2004
Document updated on May 11, 2016.
(On the twentieth anniversary of its foundation)