Translation: War in Bío Bío

Translation: War in Bío Bío

► Lupa es nuestra nueva app para estudiantes intermedios de español que quieren aprender con las historias de Radio Ambulante. Pruébala y encuentra más información en

Translated by Patrick Moseley

Daniel Alarcón: Thanks for listening to Radio Ambulante. I want to tell you about a new program on NPR, a new way to keep up with the day’s news. It’s called “Up First”. In 10 minutes, give or take, you can get a sense of the important news stories of the day. Those things you really need to know. Start the day with “Up First”, available Monday through Friday at 6am, on NPR One or any podcast app.

Daniel: Welcome to Radio Ambulante, from NPR. I’m Daniel Alarcón. And today we’re starting in an area in Chile called Alto Bío Bío. This is Natalia Messer.

Natalia Messer: I’m a Chilean journalist…

Daniel: And as part of her job, Natalia has traveled in this area a lot.

Natalia: It’s in South-central Chile. It’s a very pretty area.

Daniel: It’s covered in trees, it has rivers, cliffs, birds…

Natalia: It’s a really wonderful place and at the moment it’s a very touristic, highly visited area.

Daniel: And here, in this paradise, there was a proposal to build a hydroelectric dam. It was going to be built by a private company, Endesa, a Spanish company. And they named the project Ralco.

Natalia: This is where our story begins. This is where the struggle begins, this is where the battle I’m going to tell you about starts.

Daniel: So: Chile in mid-90s. While the country comes out of the dictatorship, the economy starts growing rapidly. But there’s a problem.

Natalia:  Chile started to worry that there was an energy shortage…

Newscaster: Yes, you! What are you thinking? Exactly, if you aren’t going to use it, you’d better turn it off…

Natalia: And the country urgently needed to produce more energy. So, in this period they started to think about creating hydroelectric energy projects, around 6 projects in the Bío Bío region.

Newscaster: All of this making an increase in consumption on the part of the community possible. It’s reflected in the fact that electric cooperatives have increased in number…

Daniel: In ‘93 they starting building the first dam. And a year later, when Endesa announced the proposal to build Ralco, residents in the area were not on board. Indigenous residents most of all.

Natalia: The Mapuche people. They are the majority indigenous group in Chile.

Daniel: There are more than a million Mapuches throughout Chile and many of them live in Bío Bío. They have forever. They are a people who are culturally very connected to their land. Ralco was going to flood 3,400 hectares (~8,400 acres), which is more than 6,000 American football fields. And in the area they were going to flood, there were Mapuche cemeteries where their ancestors were buried. There were 90 families living there.

Natalia:  Some Pehuenche families were against it immediately.

Daniel: Peheunche. That’s what the Mapuches who live in the mountainous region are known as.

Natalia: They said: “This can’t be, they are going to flood protected areas, areas that are important to us because there are cemeteries, because our families live there, our ancestors are there. We can’t accept this.”

Daniel: But despite the pushback, in 1997 it was approved.

Natalia: That year was obviously very laden with controversy. The whole negotiation phase started.

Daniel: Negotiations between the company and the Mapuches in the area. Complicated negotiations. There were some families…

Natalia: Who received approximately 10 million Chilean pesos—about 16,000 dollars— in order to be able to relocate. Endesa even offered many more hectares of land than these Pehuenche families had. And that seemed like a really attractive offer.

But there were 5 families that said no. And they started to organize…

Daniel: And they contacted this man: Víctor Ancalaf.

Víctor Ancalaf: People came down from Alto Bío Bío to tell me that they needed support, that they needed help to stand up against the Ralco power plant’s construction in Alto Bío Bío. And I went to participate in the protests they were holding and everything.

Natalia: He says: “I have to go help too, I have to do something, I can’t stay here like this. That company can’t build its power plant there.”

Daniel: But who was Víctor?

Natalia: He’s Mapuche, he was born in the Nehuentue community in ‘62.

Daniel: And at that time Víctor was a respected member of the community. He had been elected as the spokesperson by more than 30 Mapuche communities in the region. And although Víctor is not from Alto Bío Bío, he soon became rather involved in this story.

Because the way he saw it, ENDESA was not negotiating in good faith.

Víctor: It was always about manipulating the people. In the end it was about offering a very small payment. The whole time the idea was that it was necessary and the power plant would be built no matter what.

Daniel: Because the money and the land didn’t change anything.

Víctor: We can have, I don’t know, millions of hectares of land but what would happen if they don’t have water, they don’t have trees, they don’t have anything. It would be like living in a desert.

Daniel: And there are two things worth mentioning. One: Endesa changed its name to Enel. And two: Natalia requested an interview and never got a response.

So hundreds more Mapuches and activists joined those five families who resisted. According to Víctor…

Víctor: Well, up in Alto Bío Bío there were around 400 people and maybe even more, who got together and we held protests in order to organize in a way that would halt the project.

Natalia: At first he told me it was a peaceful struggle. They go to the courts, they start to make their position known through, I don’t know, pamphlets, they start to visualize their case and their opposition to the power plant.

Daniel: All the while the construction of the dam had already begun…

Newscaster: The construction of the Ralco dam has advanced rapidly. Just a few weeks ago these turbines were…

Daniel: The five families and their supporters didn’t give up.  They contacted environmental organizations to tell them what was going on and they held protests.

And this whole process lasted 3 years.

Natalia: And later on this obviously intensifies because they see that there’s no way out. Because they tell me that they don’t see a solution.

Víctor: There was no other alternative than to raise the level of the struggle. Which is to say, it is obvious that we should resist, but no longer resist in a folkloric way or even through a pretty speech, but rather we had to raise the level of the struggle to a fight.

Natalia: When the Mapuches and the Pehuenches see that there is nothing left they can do, that the trucks are carrying up all of the materials to the area, they start to use other methods for…the struggle, as they say.

Newscaster: The resistance is fierce. Early this morning, 100 Pehuenches blocked the path of the truck transporting the transformers that were being installed in the power plant. The route was impassable for 5 hours. But in a few hours, the situation looked even worse.

Natalia: This came to its peak in 2002, and that’s when the burning of, well, two trucks occurred, a backhoe and another truck I believe…

Daniel: Company vehicles that worked for Endesa, that brought the materials to build Ralco.

Víctor: Because they were working there day and night, day and night, Saturday and Sunday, moving forward and forward…

Daniel: And Víctor defends these acts of violence?

Natalia: Víctor ultimately sees them as valid means of reaching an end.

Víctor: Because it’s the only means we have to make society feel that today we’ve had enough of them continuing to make money at the cost of our land.

Daniel: I tend to sympathize with protests like this one. I mean, instinctively. But in our conversation, Natalia told me something that surprised me. Listen:

Natalia: Ralco, the hydroelectric plant, provides approximately 10% of all of Chile’s energy.

Daniel: Sorry. 10% of the country’s electricity?

Natalia: Exactly. Yes.

Daniel: Whoa… I mean, it’s… Wow… Ok.

Daniel: And this was what I thought: in ‘97 there were almost 15 million Chileans and according to the World Bank, almost 25% lived in poverty. Today the figure is 12%. In other words, the poverty rate has been cut in half.

And it’s very simple: without electricity you can’t create economic growth and without economic growth you can’t pull millions of Chileans out of poverty. It’s the classic dilemma of what’s good for the many versus what’s bad for the few.

So in order to better understand the reasons behind this resistance we spoke with Fernando Pairicán, a Mapuche historian living in Santiago. And he told us that something we need to understand is the way in which the Mapuches have traditionally related to the land.

Fernando Pairicán: In the Mapuche world down to an insect matters because the Mapuche world in not on the land: it’s part of the land.

Daniel: But there’s also a centuries long cultural and historical context.

Fernando: It’s a community that effectively, in Latin American history, is a little atypical in the history of resistance to the colonial world.

Daniel: What he’s referring to is the fact that the Spanish were never able to completely colonize the Mapuches. They were at war for more than 100 years, until the Spanish were forced to recognize the Mapuches as an independent community.

So for nearly 200 years, they lived in peace in their territories. But that changed in the 19th century when Chile gained its independence from Spain. And then…

Fernando: The Mapuche had a free country and had agreements signed by Spain, and then with the State of Chile until 1825. And the State of Chile then violates those agreements: they ignore the political agreements, conquer the territory, occupy it and try to implement their ideology to, in quotes, “civilize” the Mapuche people.

As a result, all of the policies were aimed at chileanizing the Mapuches.

Daniel: All Chilean children learn about this war in school. It’s known as “the Pacification of Araucanía.”  It’s a war that lasted more than 20 years.

TVN Documentary: The objective was reached not only through a war against armed indigenous people, but also against the Mapuche population…

Daniel: But this time the Mapuches lost 95% of their territory. They were left with half a million hectares of land…

TVN Documentary: Dispossessed of what was most valuable to their culture, they faced misery…

Daniel: And maybe this is the most relevant context for understanding why some Mapuches were so willing to fight for this land.

So, let’s get back to the burnt trucks.

Natalia: There were also isolated incidents, like the burning of a fundo

Daniel: A fundo for those who are not Chilean, is like a ranch or a farm…

Natalia: And, ok, the State says: “Perfect, we have to act; we have to look for those responsible for this and sanction them, convict them.”

And here is where Víctor Ancalaf is accused of participating in these events.

Víctor: I was accused by witnesses saying it was me who burned the trucks.

Natalia: He doesn’t say much about whether he participated or not. He says: “I know what happened, but I’m not going to say anything.”

Who do you think could have done this? Do you think it was a set-up?

Víctor: No, it wasn’t a set-up. The peñis did it, but I couldn’t say if it was this person or that person…

Natalia: In other words, he’s also trying to say that he knows who did it, that they were, perhaps, other peñis, other brothers, but that he isn’t going to say.

Víctor: It has to do with your character, and honor too, because if not I would have become a snitch and everyone would have said: “This guy turned into a yanacona, as they say, a traitor. And I couldn’t do that.”

Natalia: And in the end he is arrested, in circumstances that are highly debated later because what happened to him when they detained him was very strange…

Daniel: Tell me what happened.

Natalia: It was the 6th of November in 2002,  around 9 am.

Víctor: I was taking public transportation to another meeting. 10 people approached me, civilians…

Natalia: Really aggressively, they don’t say anything to him.

Víctor: And they started hitting and kicking me. And I practically couldn’t defend myself because there were a lot of people.

Natalia: He doesn’t understand what’s happening.

Víctor: It was a very chaotic situation because I thought it was an attack and at any moment I could lose my life because the hits were very…very violent.

Natalia: Then one of these 10 people says:

Víctor: “Now, cuff him”. Then I realized that it was a police operation.

Natalia: It’s the investigatory police, the PDI.

Víctor: At no point was I told my rights…

Natalia: Víctor was left with two broken ribs, and they smashed his face and then he was detained. And then Víctor’s world turned upside down.

Daniel: Did he have a family?

Natalia: At that time he had 5 children with his wife Karina Prado. And he was the breadwinner for the family.

Víctor: It was a complicated issue, because my family… The kids were young and they were left alone with their mother. So that was a rather critical situation for the woman of the house, in this case my wife, because she’s alone, she doesn’t have the resources to travel, to come to see me…

Daniel: And in prison…

Víctor: Absolute silence in a horrible…dirty cell. And on top of that comes such a great feeling of hopelessness that there was nothing I could do. And I had to take off my clothes because I felt like I was choking.

Natalia: What hurt the most was the solitude…

Víctor: I was not allowed to speak to anyone for five days, in a horrible cell. So for someone who had never been out of contact with people, who hadn’t been subject to extreme situations… it’s hard, I mean, it’s a violent thing to have happen.

Natalia: For him it was torture. The fact that he didn’t have control over the situation was rather overwhelming.

Víctor: I always had the expectation that I was going to go free…

Daniel: But that’s not what happened. He waited for his trail for a year, without really knowing what the charges against him were, or the evidence against him, without being able to see his family who didn’t have the money to see him. And that’s how it was until…

Víctor: On December 31st, 2003, they took me to the courts to deliver my sentence.

Natalia: He receives a rather harsh sentence. 16 years.

Víctor: Well, in the first year I was in a lot of anguish, missing my family, my kids, missing the people. Well, I missed my children’s childhoods, their infancy… It’s hard to accept that in the end you are in prison, that you’ve been convicted and you can’t leave…

Daniel: And with this sentence, Víctor became the first Mapuche to be accused of terrorism in Chile.

Natalia: The government means to say: “We have to do something and we are going to use the tools we have, and in this case we are going to use a law that comes from the dictatorship, and we are going to sanction them with that law, so that the punishment serves as an example.

Víctor: They had an objective: to bring down these leaders, to send a message to tell them not to continue with this because that’s what’s going to happen. And that this wasn’t violence, now it was terrorism, rural terrorism, and they had to use a forceful hand.

Daniel: In other words, the Chilean democracy uses a law that was created during the Pinochet dictatorship for…against terrorism…

Natalia: Yes, obviously the law tries to sanction terrorist crimes and gives much higher penalties than ordinary crimes.

Daniel: Of course.

Natalia: With the return of democracy, by modifying this law, in a way, the government also legitimizes it, and this is the law that…under which Víctor Ancalaf is convicted.

Daniel: And, of course, the accusation of terrorism changes everything.

We’ll be back after the break.

Daniel: May 11th is a very special day: Fresh Air, an iconic US public radio program turns 30. Help us celebrate such an important anniversary with Terry Gross and her whole team. This week, share your memories of Fresh Air: those unforgettable interviews and those questions that only someone like Terry would ask. Use the hashtag #Freshair30 –Freshair all one word, and the number 30– and celebrate with us by listening to Freshair all week on the NPR One app, or your favorite podcast app.

Daniel: Let’s go back to Fernando Pairicán, the Mapuche historian. We asked him what impact Víctor’s terrorism conviction had. And his answer surprised us.

Fernando: When I was a boy they told me that Indian meant lazy, drunk and dirty.

Daniel: But by the time he was a teenager…

Fernando: My friends started to tell me ‘forrest burner’, house burner’, ‘truck burner.’

Daniel: Which is a little different. All else aside, the Mapuches are now branded as violent.

Fernando: First being so humiliated for being indigenous, and then continuing to be humiliated because the Mapuches were acting in the South.

Later I understood that these were acts of resistance. And I started to feel a little proud of my brothers who resisted from…from the South.

Daniel: What is resistance for some, for the State in this case, is terrorism.

Sergio Fuenzalida: And in some ways we are stigmatizing a section of society, because convicting a Mapuche of terrorism, in a way, radiates that stigma, we’ll say, throughout the Mapuche community.

Daniel: This is Sergio Fuenzalida, a Chilean attorney.

Natalia: Fuenzalida had been involved in indigenous issues. And he also had some participation in the Ralco case, also supporting a few Pehuenches who were against the construction and who considered themselves affected by the power plant.

Daniel: And he becomes Víctor’s lawyer.

Sergio: For me, the problem is in the overreaction, and the use of antiterrorist legislation when these are acts that clearly do not have that character.

As for the crimes that Víctor Ancalaf was accused and convicted for, it was the burning of a truck that posed no risk to human life or freedom and was only —as I see it— a crime that corresponds to damages by means of burning. And I think that strictly speaking there wasn’t even a fire.

Natalia: And so he goes to visit Víctor…

Sergio: I was accompanied by a Mapuche leader who made the introduction, shall we say. And that was the first time I met him.

Daniel: We’re talking about 2004.

Natalia: He starts visiting him…

Sergio: I went to see Víctor about once every month. And I got to see many different facets of him: being very strong, because Víctor is very strong, but also telling me the conditions in the prison that were really really rough, and what had been his strategy to get around this issue.

Natalia: And he starts telling him: “Víctor, something happened here, there was no due process, they didn’t judge you correctly, and it seems to me that your case is worth bringing before the Inter-american Court of Human Rights, because they can’t step on you rights like this.

Víctor: He made me see that it was an interesting way to set a precedent in history, that I had been wrongfully convicted, that I had not received due process, so I accepted.

Natalia: Sergio convinced Víctor that it’s a good way to clear his name and also the name of the Mapuche people.

Sergio: And he intended, and I believe he always intended, in a way to use that sentence to legitimize the Mapuche struggle before the projects, in this case the dams or others, that intervene in their communities.

Daniel: But how do you bring a case before the Inter-american Court? I asked Natalia what legal argument Víctor’s lawyer intended to use to invalidate that conviction.

Natalia: Sergio Fuenzalida wasn’t interested in whether or not Víctor burned the truck or the trucks. In fact, Sergio Fuenzalida never asked Víctor Ancalaf if he did it or not.

Sergio: In the end, what is in question is whether or not there was just procedure, and in Víctor’s case in particular, if the application of antiterrorist law implied discrimination or not.

Natalia: Sergio Fuenzalida is interested in proving that Víctor Ancalaf, because he belongs to the Mapuche ethnicity, was a judged differently than a Chilean or other citizen from another part of the world would be. That in the end, there was no due process.

Daniel: Ok, so Víctor agrees that Fuenzalida is taking his case to the Inter-american Court. But in order to do that, it first needs to go through a commission…

Natalia: The commission reviews the case and sees if it is possible for it to appear before the court or not. And they present that in 2005. And there are 4 requests, not just Víctor’s anymore, because it starts…it starts to snowball.

Sergio: It’s not just Víctor’s case. The antiterrorist law had more or less been systematically applied to other Mapuche leaders, which means, I assert: worse procedural conditions to face the process, the judicial process, and also an aggravation of the penalty.

Daniel: The commission ends up selecting 8 cases, with Víctor’s being among them. In parallel, Víctor had appealed his conviction in a Chilean court.

And to much to his surprise, his sentence was reduced. To five years and a day. So…

Natalia: Well, he receives a benefit, the benefit of conditional freedom, for good conduct. For good behavior.

Daniel: Víctor gets out in 2007, after 4 and a half years in prison.

Natalia: And it’s totally strange: the feeling he has when he gets out is strange, that’s what he tells me.

Víctor: When I got out, the first weekend I didn’t go home. I wanted to be alone. I went to the beach. I was by the sea, alone there… It was a strange feeling, to feel, I don’t know… It’s like deep down they kill you, little by little, because you lose that sensibility of someone who lives normally on the street.

Daniel: So, a few days later, he decides to go back to his town and see his family.

Natalia: Yes, he returns to Collipulli and he also starts to prepare himself, regarding the lawsuit and how he would proceed, because once he was convicted under the antiterrorist law, there were a lot of things he couldn’t do.

Víctor: For example, I had trouble getting my driver’s license, I had trouble getting personal records, you know? I don’t know, for the children who were in school. And it was really lame because the convictions would show up, saying I had been convicted for terrorists acts.

Natalia: In 2013 they go to the Court, to defend and present their case.

Daniel: More than 10 years after his arrest.

Natalia: Exactly.

Daniel: And in the case of the Mapuches accused of terrorism, the Chilean State had their representatives as well. One of them is…

Natalia: Juan Francisco Galli…

Juan Francisco Galli: Every country has a right to have antiterrorist legislation, because terrorism itself infringes on people’s rights, it infringes on human rights.

Natalia: His role was to defend the Chilean State and make it clear that the State did not maintain systematic discriminatory conduct against the Mapuche people.

Juan Francisco: But what can’t happen in the Inter-american Court, an international body…is that in front of the world, the Chilean State look like a a State that is systematically discriminating, a State that has legislation that does not meet international standards.

Natalia: That is to say that the State of Chile does not accuse someone of terrorism because they are Mapuche.

Daniel: Ok, and how does the trial go? I mean, did the State give a testimony? Did Víctor?

Natalia: Yes.

Víctor: I believe that the reparation that needs to take place has to do with the State recognizing that they have made a mistake here…

Natalia: Some trials at the Inter-american Court are recorded, so you can access them and see what they’re like.

Víctor: And what the State needs to do is recognize…

Natalia: Víctor was in the Court as well. He told his story, and he spends around 30 minutes answering Sergio Fuenzalida’s questions.

Víctor: The Mapuche people are not a terrorist people, it has nothing to do with the issue of terrorism. And in my case, personally, I am not a terrorist. That’s it.

Lawyer: Thank you, Víctor.

Natalia: He was also very calm because, well, Sergio Fuenzalida had told him that the majority of cases that go to the Inter-american Court for Human Rights, that are connected to indigenous groups, are decided in their favor.

Daniel: And I imagine the State knew that.

Natalia: They knew there was a high probability that they were going to lose. So they focused their defense on demonstrating that…

Juan Francisco: There could have been errors, but there was no systematic practice. There was no prejudice against the Mapuche people.

Daniel: And that’s hard to prove, especially considering the history we discussed earlier, of the complicated relationship that the Mapuches have always had with the State.

And the statistics seem to indicated that there is structural discrimination. Poverty indexes are higher in the indigenous population. The mortality rate is much higher in Mapuche mothers. The children have less access to education, sanitation, and housing. Illiteracy is also higher. Et cetera Et cetera.

And even if the Inter-american Court doesn’t take this kind of information into account in their judgement, for Mapuches activists they are important. Figures like these for them are evidence of total negligence by the State.

On May 29th, 2014…

Newscaster: The Inter-american Court for Human Rights ordered Chile to withdraw the terrorism convictions against 7 members of the Mapuche community and one activist…

Natalia: Well, the Court was… It declared unanimously, that the State did violate certain human rights.

Sergio: There was infringement of human rights because there was discrimination.

Natalia: It also violated the right of the defense to question certain witnesses.

Sergio: There was violation of due process.

Natalia: It also violated the right of personal liberty.

Sergio: There was a violation of the freedom of expression.

Natalia: It violated certain political rights.

Daniel: And the decision ordered a settlement of 50 thousand dollars to each person affected. In other words, they won.

Natalia: Well, if you ask the people from the State, they say there is no winner or loser here.

Juan Francisco: The judgement doesn’t say that the State of Chile discriminates against the Mapuche people, and that is very relevant. I think it’s very very important for us. Secondly, the Court also doesn’t say that the Chilean antiterrorist legislation ran contrary to the standards of human rights, and that was the goal of the Chilean State’s defense.

Daniel: Which is to say, the Court ruled that there was discrimination against these 8 individuals, including Víctor, but it does not say that the Chilean State systematically violated the human rights of the Mapuches.

At any rate…

Natalia: Víctor and Sergio of course felt like winners. They thought the sentence was fair.

Sergio: All of the records were expunged.

Natalia: In other words, he finally could get rid of that sign on his forehead that said “terrorist,” and…

Víctor: I was also relieved for my family, beyond the settlement they gave us and all that.

Daniel: We asked Fernando Pairicán —the historian we spoke with before— what impact this case had on the Mapuche people. He told us that Víctor, because of all this, had become one of the most important leaders in the past decade.

Fernando: I believe he’s important. And on top of that he gave the Mapuche movement a mystique. The idea of challenging the authorities, standing up to the authorities, the police, fighting against…against them, you know? And saying: “Here we come. We are Mapuches and we are fighters.”

Natalia: All of a sudden this Mapuche people that we haven’t seen for centuries, perhaps, appeared. We saw them and saw that this was their culture, and that they had a different relationship to the environment.

Daniel: But now we need to backtrack. Since 2004, the time when Fuenzalida was presenting Víctor’s case before the Inter-american Court, the Ralco hydroelectric plant started operating.

Newscaster: Today the ralco hydroelectric plant has begun production, and this energy producing complex…

Daniel: They probably feel like: we won, but what did we actually win? right?

Natalia: Exactly, there an ambivalence at the center of it. Víctor Ancalaf feels like that: “Ok, I cleared the name of the Mapuche people, they acquitted my sentence under the antiterrorist law, but the power plant was built all the same and it’s a mega plant. We lost precious lands and we lost cemeteries that housed our ancestors and that land was flooded and we aren’t going to be able to recover it. And for them is terrible.

Daniel: When Natalia visited Bío Bío, she met Paola Guajardo, a Mapuche woman who has lived in the area for 20 years…

Natalia: She told me what Alto Bío Bío was like before and what it’s like now.

Paola Guajardo: A lot more water, cleaner, purer. Before you’d go to the river to bathe, you could drink that water because it was pure. And now, no, you go to the river to bathe and it gives you welts, it gives you allergies. For example, if you plant crops and get water from the river to put on the plants, the water is contaminated and potatoes don’t sprout, the grass dries out…

The Mapuches really live off of their land and their livestock and seeing their land destroyed is atrocious.

Daniel: Since the construction of the dam, a lot has changed. Not just the flooded lands and the destruction of holy places, but also the culture.

Natalia: It not uncommon to meet families in Alto Bío Bío that go to central Chile for temporary work, picking fruit, with very low wages, and then they return to their communities.

Daniel: Right, and that is something they didn’t do before…

Natalia: That is something they didn’t do before, they had a very strong connection to their land and they didn’t want to leave it.

Paola: And the ones who have been affected the most are the young people, the ones who left their land, who had a heritage that was theirs that they don’t have anymore. And they don’t have anywhere to live. They have to leave because there’s no work. They don’t have anything. They really don’t have anything.

Daniel: But here there’s something we should note.

Natalia: Because while there are Mapuches who say: “Yes we want to see progress. We want to do projects with the State of Chile, we want to have a dialogue with forest companies, with the hydroelectric companies.” There are other Mapuches who say: “No, we don’t want to talk to them, because there’s no solution.”

Daniel: The Mapuches in the city, on the coast, in the mountains, don’t all think the same. Within each region, within each community, there are Mapuches with different views and priorities.

Even just saying it it seems so obvious. But it isn’t, and perhaps that’s why the conflict between the State and the Mapuches has been so difficult to resolve.

Natalia Messer is an independent journalism and lives in Concepción. Thanks for Carlos Contreras Painemal and Felipe Roa Paredes. Thanks to the Universidad Católica de Concepción radio for sharing their studios with us.

This story was edited by Silvia Viñas, Camila Segura and me. The sound design is by Ryan Sweikert. The rest of the Radio Ambulante team includes Andrés Azpiri, Desiree Bayonet, Andrea Betanzos, Melissa Montalvo, Caro Rolando, Barbara Sawhill, Luis Trelles, David Trujillo, Elsa Liliana Ulloa and Luis Fernando Vargas. Maytik Avirama is our editorial intern and Carolina Guerrero is our CEO.

Radio Ambulante is produced and mixed on Hindenburg PRO.

Learn more about Radio Ambulante and this story on our website: Radio Ambulante tells the stories of Latin American I’m Daniel Alarcón. Thanks for listening.


Natalia Messer



Silvia Viñas, Camila Segura and Daniel Alarcón

Ryan Sweikert

Natalia Messer