Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Indigenous land FOR SALE!

Back in 1993 the Chilean law 19.253 (here in Spanish) on ‘protection, promotion and development’ of indigenous peoples created the National Indigenous Development Corporation (CONADI) and which also established key policies providing resources and protection for native ethnic groups. As in every other legislation some flaws were noted; one of them being Article 13 which prohibits disposing of, seizing, or acquiring by prescription Indigenous lands, unless it is between Indigenous communities and/or indigenous people. This lands whose owners are Indigenous Communities cannot be leased, given on loan; cannot be transferred to third parties to use, benefit from or administer.

For this reason a new proposal, headed by Mr René Manuel García and backed on by several MPs, has been made in the ‘Camara de Diputados’ (Chamber of Deputies) to “add a subsection to Law 19.253, in order to allow the Indians to sell their land” but only if used exclusively for the construction of social housing and associated infrastructure.

Mr García noticed the constraints to indigenous ownership which prevent the landowners to generate resources by way of lease or sale of property, forcing owners land to stay with the same piece of land, unable to have another option that may mean an economic benefit.

I wonder if the Indigenous Communities have participated in this project. It comes to mind the ILO Convention 169, to be more specific:

Article 6
§  1. In applying the provisions of this Convention, governments shall:
  (a) consult the peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, whenever consideration is being given to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly;
Article 7
§  1. The peoples concerned shall have the right to decide their own priorities for the process of development as it affects their lives, beliefs, institutions and spiritual well-being and the lands they occupy or otherwise use, and to exercise control, to the extent possible, over their own economic, social and cultural development. In addition, they shall participate in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programmes for national and regional development which may affect them directly.

But more importantly is:
Article 17
1. Procedures established by the peoples concerned for the transmission of land rights among members of these peoples shall be respected.
2. The peoples concerned shall be consulted whenever consideration is being given to their capacity to alienate their lands or otherwise transmit their rights outside their own community.
I guess that when Law 19.253 was proposed these matters were considered (?). 
Finally, if this proposal is accepted how the following would be stop from happening:
§  3. Persons not belonging to these peoples shall be prevented from taking advantage of their customs or of lack of understanding of the laws on the part of their members to secure the ownership, possession or use of land belonging to them.

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