The Chilean government announced this Wednesday that it will double the budget allocated to the purchase of indigenous lands, claimed as their own by ancestral rights and that today are in private hands, mostly forestry companies.
“When we arrived we had 15,000 million pesos (17.3 million dollars) to buy land and we are going to increase that to reach 35,000 million pesos (40.5 million dollars) by the end of the year,” announced the Minister of Social Development, Jeanette Vega.
In an act at the presidential palace of La Moneda together with the newly elected representatives of the National Corporation for Indigenous Development (Conadi), the minister pointed out that in 2022 39 properties will be purchased for 19 indigenous communities throughout the country.
“We have a challenge that is that this purchase of land is accompanied by the conditions so that they remain productive, that they have basic services and ensure that the investment of the State around what we are buying allows them to remain as productive land,” he said. Vega.
He added that the idea of the leftist Executive Gabriel Boric is to reach an investment of 86.9 million dollars in the purchase of land for indigenous peoples each year from 2023.
Land ownership in the southern regions of Chile is at the core of the claims of the Mapuche indigenous communities. Some radicalized groups have claimed responsibility for attacks on forestry companies as part of sabotage actions to drive these companies back from what they consider to be their territories.
The Mapuche, the largest Chilean ethnic group, were reduced to living on about 5% of the land they inhabited before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors and a series of state policies.
“It is not a 100% solution, we are clear about it, but the fact of making this gesture allows us to advance little by little,” said the national councilor of Conadi, Francisca Huirilef, of the Mapuche people.
The representative of the Aymara people, Zenón Alarcón, stressed that “it is a historic milestone” and that, although “it is not enough” to restore the “historical debt” of the State with the original peoples in terms of territory, “it is a step tremendously relevant.”
Chile recognizes the existence of 10 native peoples in its territory (Mapuche, Aymara, Rapa Nui, Diaguita, Atacameño, Quechua, Colla, Chango, Kawashkar and Yagán).
During the past government of the conservative Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022), no land purchase was carried out through Conadi, according to the national councilor of the Ana Llao corporation, of the Mapuche people.