Saturday, 31 December 2011

Giving away or giving back: the return of the land

This week the Chilean National Indigenous Development Corporation (CONADI) informs of the delivery of 1,480 hectares of land to four Mapuches communities and to 91 families from various districts of the Region called ‘de Los Rios’, benefiting more than 500 people from ethnic origin. It is, according to the press, that this is the largest land granted in this region.

The Minister for Social Development as well as the national director of CONADI travelled to the farm named Collampulli situated in the comuna Panguipulli to sign the papers when and where the ceremony took place.

One see from the information provided by the Government that everybody seems happy but reading other sources we learn a little bit more – the other side of the story.

For instance the online paper bibiochile noted that the president of the community Chepu Manquel Dionisio said that while it was very important to them as an indigenous community to recover territories, to recover their true land was like ‘swimming against the current’ and that the delivery of these alternative sites do return just in part what have belonged to them for centuries.

Another source mentioned that the President of the Community Chocano Fermin, was happy to finally receive their land, but criticized the delay in the allocation (more than a decade) and costs involved for the commoners.

I just find interesting the play of wording, the Minister and CONADI talks about ‘delivery’ and ‘grant’ while indigenous peoples talk about ‘returning’.

Has this Chilean movement being influenced by the ILO Convention 169?
According to Pedro Mariman,coordinator of the Indigenous Citizen Observatory, CONADI has accelerated the land purchases to prevent budget under spend. He said that CONADI fears that not all resources for funding for land acquisition are being executed. In 2010, it did have to repay 37 billion pesos for not implement these resources which corresponded to 76 percent of the budget available to the fund. This awareness came because these land deliveries are being made just about at the finish time of the fiscal year.

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