Mapuche, people of the land

by Luca Catalano Gonzaga

The winner of the Chilean presidential elections 2013 , Michelle Bachelet, will have many problems to face including that of the Mapuche, Chile’s indigenous population. The Mapuche’s resistance to the Spanish colonialists was infamous. Their nationalism and independence were legendary. Once a treaty was agreed the Mapuche were designated land with which to cultivate and live on for centuries. As South America nations gained independence from European colonial powers, the Mapuche lost more and more land. Under Pinochet’s dictatorship the Mapuche native land was sold to 7 most powerful families in Chile . The social, economic and environmental aspects of such a decision were, and are, catastrophic. Local fauna and flora were eradicated to make way for eucalyptus plantations, which alter and ultimately destroy biodiversity. The Mapuche have been forced into the poor mountainous regions of Chile with limited means of making a living. During the Pinochet dictatorship an antiterrorism law was implemented to stop any form of opposition to the regime. Imprisoned herself  by this law under Pinochet, it seems absurd that the former President Bachelet failed to abolish this law during her first Presidency (2006-2010). It is under this law that many Mapuche are today imprisoned for protesting against the continuous infringement of their rights. The usually spend 3 years in prison waiting for a trial. In September 2013, I have visited the poorest of the Mapuche region, the Araucania, to capture on film the poverty, isolation and hopelessness of these once proud, strong and independent people. Mapuche  actually means in native language “people of the land”. Ironically the Mapuche are fast becoming a land less people.

 

 

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A selection of photos from the archive of Luca Catalano Gonzaga is available as collector’s prints. The goal of print selling is to contribute to the realization of the photographic projects of Witness Image that narrate the great transformations of our time.

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