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New Chilean Government Apologizes to "Dispossessed" Mapuche People

LADB Article ID: 79258
Category/Department: Chile
Date: 2014-03-28
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

The recently inaugurated government of President Michelle Bachelet issued a timely mea culpa this month in an effort to press the proverbial reset button on long-frayed relations with the Mapuche, Chile’s largest indigenous group. On March 12—just one day after Bachelet took office—the new intendente (appointed regional governor) of the Araucanía Francisco Huenchumilla formally apologized for the "dispossession" of the Mapuche’s ancestral lands. He said the state has made "mistake after mistake" and has a "pending debt" dating back to the late 1800s, when the Mapuche were forced off their lands through a series of military campaigns known euphemistically as the "pacification of the Araucanía." Most of that land is now in the hands of non-Mapuche farmers and large forestry companies.

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