Indigenous people (approximately 5 percent of the total population) have the right to participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultures, and traditions, including the exploitation of energy, minerals, timber, or other natural resources on indigenous lands. Of the indigenous population, 80 percent belong to the Mapuche people. The 2013 INDH annual report noted again that, despite government policies designed to address the social and political exclusion of indigenous people, systematic inequities persisted. Indigenous people also experienced societal discrimination, including in employment, and there were reports of incidents in which they were attacked and harassed. Indigenous women faced triple discrimination on the basis of their gender, indigenous background, and reduced economic status, and they were especially vulnerable to violence, poverty, and illness. The constitution does not specifically protect indigenous groups. The government’s National Indigenous Development Corporation has an annual budget of 94.4 billion pesos ($155 million) to fund programs for indigenous communities.
Instances of violence between Mapuche and landowners, logging companies, and police in the southern part of the country continued throughout the year. The actions usually took the form of protests, including the use of violence, regarding historic Mapuche concerns about their rights to ancestral lands. Mapuche activists and police forces stationed in the area to guard private lands sometimes engaged in violent skirmishes.
On February 28, Celestino Cordova, a Mapuche community healer and leader, was sentenced to18 years in prison for arson; in January 2013 Cordova set fire to the home of Werner Luchsinger and Vivian Mackay, both of whom died as a result. On May 12, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal and confirmed the sentence against Cordova.
There were numerous reports of police abuse against Mapuche individuals and communities, including against children. The NGO Citizens’ Observatory (OC) reported that from 2009-13, there were 70 cases of excessive use of force by Carabineros or the PDI against Mapuche individuals or communities. In addition the OC reported police searched Mapuche homes without warrants, arrested and released Mapuche individuals without detention control hearings, and used intimidation and discriminatory statements against Mapuche individuals, including minors.
On May 22, Carabineros conducted a raid on the community of Temucuicui, in the municipality of Ercilla. Carabineros used armed vehicles and tear gas near a school while 46 children between ages four and 13 were present. The INDH brought a petition to protect the children’s constitutional rights to the Appeals Court of Temuco, which ruled on August 26 that the officers’ actions “provoked evident harm to the personal liberty and individual security of the children, who experienced the situation with fear, anger, uncertainty, and vulnerability.” The court ordered the corresponding Carabineros Prefecture to implement its police procedures in strict accordance with constitutional norms.
During the year Human Rights Watch noted that little information was available about trials in military courts, which have jurisdiction over abuses committed by Carabineros against civilians, including those committed against indigenous individuals. This lack of transparency, according to Human Rights Watch, raised questions regarding the ability of victims of police and military abuse to obtain justice.
For example, the April 2 UN Human Rights Council Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Chile recommended the application of civil court jurisdiction for police officers accused of human rights violations; the government accepted the recommendation.
The UPR Working Group report also recommended that authorities refrain from applying antiterrorism legislation to Mapuche individuals in the context of intercultural conflicts, including land disputes, and recommended that authorities increase political dialogue on indigenous issues. On July 24, in its concluding observations on the sixth periodic report, the UPR Working Group recommended that the country quicken the process of constitutional recognition and creation of indigenous institutions, return ancestral lands to indigenous peoples, establish an adequate indigenous consultation mechanism, and refrain from applying the antiterrorism law in connection with Mapuche individuals. The government accepted this recommendation, and President Bachelet stated application of the antiterrorism law to the Mapuche people should be reviewed.
The exploitation of energy, minerals, and timber occurred near indigenous communities, including mining projects in the north - where Aymara, Atacameno, Quechua, Colla, and Diaguita indigenous populations live - and timber exploitation in the south, where the Mapuche live. Indigenous lands are demarcated, but some indigenous Mapuche communities demanded restitution of privately and publicly owned traditional lands. Indigenous communities took legal action against mining projects in the north due to their potential contamination of the water supply and environment as well as the impact on subsistence agriculture of demands for water in desert environments. Indigenous populations also expressed concern that timber plantations in the south could negatively affect the water table due to the introduction of nonnative species and the potential contamination of coastal areas from pulp production. An INDH report released in 2013 stated that negative impacts associated with the large-scale forestry industry would affect 70 percent of Mapuche communities between Arauco to Chiloe in the south. The report noted that projected hydroelectric projects in the south would flood Mapuche ceremonial locations. While indigenous people have the right to participate in decisions affecting their lands, cultures, and traditions, the OC reported that they encountered serious obstacles to exercising these civil and political rights.
In March the government’s representative to Araucania, Francisco Huenchumilla, made a public apology for the legacy of conflict with the Mapuche people.