European Complicity! (Between colonialism and free trade to the detriment of the Mapuche territory)

European Complicity! (Between colonialism and free trade to the detriment of the Mapuche territory)

By Alfredo Seguel

The European States, by consolidating a free trade market, endorsing the Chilean forestry companies that steal their timber from monocultures in historic lands of the Mapuche people, consolidate and acquire for themselves, in absolute complicity, lamentable conditions in these territories.

Colonialist Europe

At the beginning of the 20th century, after the warlike invasion of the Chilean State in the Mapuche territory, several European States and that of Chile agreed on a new colonialist policy for this geographical area, which took shape with the arrival of hundreds of "settlers" brought mainly from Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Holland.

Western states did not care that the lands that their nationals would occupy were usurped, dispossessed and violated territories of the Mapuche, on the contrary, they kept silent and were accomplices in one of the most atrocious and voracious actions known in history of these territories since the arrival of the Spaniards, which served to decongest their demographic surfaces at the cost of impoverishment and Mapuche reduction, with the loss of 95% of the independent territory based on blood and fire in these lands, which were mainly distributed between European colonies, Chilean military and foundation of towns.

Free trade agreement with the EU

Today as yesterday, Europe would once again consolidate its complicity in the attacks against the Mapuche people and their territory, this time, with the free trade agreement between the State of Chile and the European Union, specifically with regard to the marketing of Chilean wood.

One of the main conflicts currently suffered by rural Mapuche communities in the VIII, IX and X Regions, is with the "transnational" logging companies, given their invasion of exotic plantations with pine and eucalyptus species, which mostly adjoin them. and that have caused serious environmental, social, cultural and economic damage.

Europe to date is the third most important market for Chile in forestry activity in its exports, after Asia and North America, with an average of 23% of the total sector. The free trade agreement between the EU - Chile would increase exports by 5% in the short term. Likewise, it is speculated that the increase in European demand in the acquisition of primary products to supply its industry, will also lead in the longer term, the increase in the industrialization of the Chilean forestry sector, especially due to investments of European origin, according to official sources of the Chilean government itself.

Said lucrative benefit for "companies" will mean a greater increase in their production and, therefore, a greater need for forest assets, but it is worth asking in this regard, at the expense of what and by whom will this expansion take place? Of the territory in dispute with the Mapuche communities? Of the loss of water and vegetation network in these lands?

The areas where there is a greater concentration of forest plantations are collapsed places, with the highest indices of impoverishment, emigration, environmental deterioration, and a high Mapuche demography. So, is it necessary to continue destroying these territories at the cost of this pseudo development to satisfy the needs of Europeans?

What is at stake is not only a round business for the commerce of Chilean and European economic groups, but rather, the fundamental rights of people who suffer the attacks of a harmful activity by itself, to the detriment of Mapuche communities that are forced to coexist with these "industrial monocultures", among the regions that are part of the Mapuche historical territory.

The unusual thing about the case is that the international evolution of Human Rights, Indigenous Rights and international agreements on the environment, are not considered at all by the European States when launching economic free trade agreements, in particular, when it is precisely in this continent where the main world headquarters for the promotion and defense of Rights are located and where the most important universal agreements in this regard have been signed.

Even so, without an economic agreement on free trade in between, and several European States are prominent importers of Chilean wood, such as Italy, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Germany, France and Great Britain, several of them presenting internationally In theory, behaviors that respect individual and collective rights, however, at the practical moment, they are also complicit in the ethnocidal and ecocidal economic policies in these territories, since not only does this type of logging company acquire with it, on the contrary, in this The product is added all the excesses towards rural communities, all the weight of a history of oppression and repression, together with all the colonialist policies, assimilation and denial that the Mapuche people face before the Chilean State and transnational companies.

Main buyers markets for Chilean wood in Europe
COUNTRYLOAD (tons)AMOUNT (thousands of U $ D)%

(Source Infor - Forestry Institute)

The European States, by consolidating a free trade market, endorsing the Chilean forestry companies that steal their timber from monocultures on historic lands of the Mapuche people, consolidate and acquire for themselves, in absolute complicity, the following unfortunate conditions in these territories:

1) An average of almost 40% poverty and indigence in places where there is a greater concentration of monoculture plants of exotic species (pine and eucalyptus) and in turn, where there is a high Mapuche demography, showing the conditions of imbalance and social inequality caused by said economic activity.

Province - CommuneHomeless%Poor not indigent%Total Poor%
Ca & ntilde; ete15.221.937.1
Los Sauces18.530.048.5

Source: Casen Survey (Ministry of Planning) - year 2000.

2) Hundreds of Mapuche prosecuted, detained and imprisoned by the Chilean justice system, as a consequence of the serious territorial conflicts faced by rural communities in territorial disputes with forestry company properties. Only in 2001, the regional Prosecutor's Office of the IX Region, in the current criminal procedural system, registered 311 cases of Mapuches admitted to processes for the so-called "territorial conflict", without considering those who were processed by the Military Prosecutor's Office.

3) The contamination of plant and water resources of Mapuche communities due to the indiscriminate use of chemical products in pesticides, herbicides and fumicides, used in forest plantations. It is important to consider that several of these products are restricted and prohibited in environmental protection policies in the world, however, they are also used in Chile due to a lack of legislation and control by the State.

4) The unsuspected introduction of genetically (transgenic) intervened plants endorsed by state and private institutions. This is the case of INFOR (Forest Institute), a state body, which has carried out a series of transgenic studies and research. GMOs in Chile are not subject to an environmental impact study, leaving serious consequences at risk, such as (according to the World Fund for Nature):
-collateral damage to the rest of the host genome (as a consequence of the insertion of a gene) - Genetic contamination (loss of strength of native forests) - Change in productivity and degradation of soils (greater demand for water and loss or decrease of soil nutrients) - Effects on people's health (resistance to antibiotics and generation of allergies).,. Likewise, due to the lack of water in the areas saturated by monocultures, the alteration of the root of these exotic plants has been considered, in order to obtain a deeper suction of the underground water layers, since these species require a large amount of water for accelerated growth. The exact number of transgenic plants introduced into these territories is unknown.

5) Loss of native forest. The forest expansion has caused the progressive disappearance of the Forest in replacement of monocultures of these exotic plants. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, between 1985 and 1994 900,000 hectares of forest have been lost. If this trend continues, the native forest would disappear by 2025. Much of this loss has been due to the invasion of forest. With the loss of the native Forest, the flora and fauna also disappear and therefore, serious transformations to the habitat and ecosystem that coexist with the Mapuche communities, in their necessary environmental balance, among other things, for cultural practices such as traditional medicine and the use of medicinal plants.

6) Decrease and loss of water resources: Areas with a high concentration of plantations, such as Lumaco, Ercilla, Traiguén, Angol, Galvarino, Tirúa, Lebu, among many others, have become true deserts in the summer season, in which estuaries, Springs and rivers significantly decrease their flow, some have even dried up as a result of the suction made by pine and eucalyptus plantations, since they require an explosive amount of water for their growth. Furthermore, there are several forestry companies that have water rights registered in their heritage in various micro-watersheds of the VIII, IX and X regions, which prevents communities from making use of surface water to apply irrigation programs, micro-irrigation or land reclamation, a situation that reflects the absolute lack of protection and defenselessness in their natural resources and that belongs to them by right.

7) Territorial disputes with forestry companies. There are numerous Mapuche communities that maintain latent territorial conflicts in properties currently owned by forestry companies, conflicts that extend between the Eighth and Tenth Regions in southern Chile, with thousands of hectares that the communities claim, to recover part of the territory dispossessed and stop the invasion of plantations and the impacts they have caused. Only in these regions, the companies maintain a wealth that far exceeds 1,500,000 hectares of over-exploited surface, being the main controlling companies of these lands: Empresa Forestal Mininco and Empresa Bosques Arauco. Likewise, there are other companies that operate with less equity, these are: Forestal Volterra; Forestal Millalemu; Forestal Valdivia, among others, several of which are transnationals with significant foreign investment.
In recent years, about 50 conflicts involving forestry company estates in these areas have been publicly identified, a situation that has produced in several of them the application of repressive laws that have militarized vast rural sectors, with serious violations of human rights.
The protection that the Chilean State currently provides to transnational forestry companies, with a series of benefits (subsidized bonuses, technical support and infrastructure), will also be a reason for the protection and protection of various Western States with these commercial treaties. Although these States do not care about the fundamental rights that are at stake here, it is worth asking, is it the same criterion that the common, but conscious, citizen of these nation States has? Although the rulers are the ones who make these momentous decisions, will it give the same to European civil society? , this society would also have to say something about it ... or not?

The requirements for the protection of Sustainable Development in the international market

The famous Chilean writers Isabel Allende and Malú Sierra, within Yankee imperialism (USA), are leading a campaign to demand forest certification from Chilean forest companies in accordance with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) regulations, which began in July of this year, whose objective is to achieve the protection of the native forest, historically overexploited and of which a minimum fraction of its original composition currently remains and thus allow the guarantee of an economically viable, socially fair and environmentally responsible management, according to have pointed.

In turn, the ecological activists of this campaign promoted by Defensores del Bosque, Greenpeace, Codef and Fundación Terram announced the insertion of notices about the promotion of FSC certifications in the New York Times. These actions provoked an angry reaction from the business sectors, who described this as unpatriotic behavior and even economic sabotage, with the Minister of Agriculture himself, Jaime Campos, going out consecutively in defense of the foresters.

According to Lucio Cuenca, national coordinator of the Latin American observatory of environmental conflicts (Olca) "this reaction shows the vulnerability in which

There are the forestry companies. Today, the bulk of the forestry sector in Chile does not resist any serious certification system, which effectively certifies the sustainability of its activities from the environmental and social point of view and in relation to the Mapuche communities.

For Cuenca, the companies react as victims and go to the Government to shelter them and assume their defense, presenting it as a boycott of the Chilean forestry company. "It is well known how forestry is developed in Chile, where there is indiscriminate use of pesticides, where Transgenic forest species are being introduced and where there are serious water problems that affect Mapuche communities. "

This publicized controversy in Chile shows the protectionism and submission that the State makes to these economic groups, who are practically untouchable in the face of just lawsuits and accusations.

Although the FSC forest certification is an important instrument widely recognized since it guarantees the management of forests and plantations, whose processes consider social, environmental and economic aspects in a balanced way, it is also essential that it be recognized by the States in the international market, the situation of indigenous peoples in compliance with regulations that involve their ways of life, economic development, identity and Biodiversity, given the negative impacts produced by industrial activities, such as in Chile, by forestry companies.

In this sense, in Europe, compliance with basic requirements is not yet required for Chilean products such as wood to enter the market, it is to be expected that current conditions can be reversed and that various European States can be consistent with international policies of Law and remedy their historical attitudes of colonialism.

It is not about attacking the so-called "development and progress" that Chilean forestry companies and state authorities have falsely shouted, on the contrary, it is about stopping the expansion of an activity that has only brought destruction and impoverishment against the sectors more exposed and defenseless to their burdens, causing marked social inequalities and the enrichment of small groups at the cost of the destruction of natural resources and the irreparable costs suffered by the Mapuche communities. It is simply to seek the improvement of living conditions, with participation and cooperation in the economic development plans of these regions, to protect and preserve the environment of these territories, to improve and strengthen social and cultural aspects, with full identity. Precisely, today, it is the communities themselves that raise their voices for a new proposal for relationships and progress, to stop these predatory economic policies in favor of a more just and balanced human society, to give hope for a dignified and balanced future.

* · Mapuche Association of Temuco - Konapewman · Organization of young technicians and professionals
[email protected]
· Coordination of Mapuche communities in environmental conflicts · Wallmapu - IX Region - Chile ·

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