Mapuche: Chilean Mapuches Reject Vote Chasers
Chilean Mapuche leader Aucan Huilcaman repudiated a bill proposed by the presidential candidates "just to get (their) votes."
Hilcaman said the candidates want the votes of the more than 500,000 Mapuche Indians, ignored and harassed through 17 years of military dictatorship and 15 democratic governments.
President Ricardo Lagos is touring Araucania, the indigenous territory where Michelle Bachelet had the worst first round, to secure Bachelet"s lead in the presidential race.
The former Defense Minister also visited the area last week and promised to approve a law giving recognition of the existence in Chile of these indigenous peoples.
Opposition Sebastian Pinera tried a similar project in Congress but Huilcaman -whose candidacy was rejected last October- called it a limited vote chasing proposal.
Huilcaman, a leader of the Council of all Lands, warned in an interview with digital paper El Mostrador that, if approved, it would be inciting many Indians to revolt.
House chairman, Christian Democrat Gabriel Ascencio, called the official project a limited effort to make the Indians feel less discriminated against.
Huilcaman regretted that they were once more discriminated against by the legislators in making reforms he called "colonialist".
The law does not specify their rights to the territory, access to the subsoil, natural resources, involvement and self-determination.
The indigenous population is 5.4 percent of the 15.1 million Chilean population, with Mapuches 87.7 percent, Aymara 8.1, Quechua 1.8, Rapa nui 1.5, Colla 0.5, Kawashkar 0.2 and Yagan 0.1 percent.
The regions of Araucania, Los Lagos and Metropolitana concentrate 76.5 percent. The latest official statistics show 28.7 percent of indigenous people live below the poverty line.
Source: Prensa Latina