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Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation meets on 4 - 5 June 2004 in Pucon and Villarrica
Mapuches oppose this neo-colonialist summit in their territory!


Editorial - El Mercurio, Chile

APEC in Pucón

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Groups that claim Mapuche ethnicity intend to interfere with the Meeting of APEC Trade Ministers that will take place in Pucón this June 4-5. The President of the Republic assigns a natural importance to this event; in his recent trip to Southeast Asia, he declared in Bangkok that Chile assumed with enthusiasm the organization of the APEC meetings in 2004, and affirmed that the Pacific Ocean will become "the main axis of commerce and development of the 21st century; therefore the economies of the 21 APEC countries have a great deal to discuss about the growth of world trade".

It is clear that the execution of the plenary meetings of APEC in Chile—for the first time in our country’s history—can be very beneficial for our country; without expounding any further, its benefit will come in the terms of giving us a direct knowledge of our reality.

It is, therefore, unacceptable that anti-free trade activists—directly related to those that have interfered with the ministerial meetings of the WTO in Seattle and in Cancun—try to manipulate a respectable Chilean ethnic group to serve their own interests. It also is unacceptable that some Mapuche leaders, for similar reasons, intend to put in check an international meeting whose derivations, with all probability, would benefit said group, as well as the rest of the country.

Those that involve themselves in this assembly should be prepared to face the legal responsibilities of their actions, and they should not feel protected by the precedent set in March, when President Lagos’ visit to Trawa Trawa (a Mapuche community in the Araucania region where 5,000 Mapuche convened to meet with the President) was cancelled because the President’s security could not be guaranteed in that part of the nation. It would be a shame for the Government of Chile to be exposed in front of the entire APEC Forum for not being able to assure its own sovereignty—nor the sovereignty of the Rule of Law in the city of Pucón—in carrying out what should be a routine, very important international meeting.

To assure that the meeting goes as planned, the Government will have at its disposal all of the legal and constitutional tools available, and the backing of the vast majority of Chilean citizens. The insertion and action of Chile in the Pacific political-economic region is not only a governmental concern, but a State concern as well. The country cannot, therefore, expose itself to situations harmful to its interests and its image—which certainly are much more important than the pretensions of groups whose real link to the progress of the Mapuche is highly debatable.