Territorial conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean State: recognizing the logic of space

Territorial conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean State: recognizing the logic of space

By Sebastián Llantén Rivas *

The Chilean State reached Bio Bio and after a military campaign materialized its expansion to the south in 1881 through a warlike invasion in the Mapuche territory with the so-called “Pacification of the Araucanía”, monopolizing more than 90% of the ancestral territory. The same with the Argentine State that reached the south of Buenos Aires and with the so-called "Desert Campaign" materialized in 1883 the factual extension of these territories, invasive acts that threw thousands of murdered and enslaved, entailed impoverishment, displacement, exclusion, denial and attempts at elimination and assimilation.

As a result of the occupation of the territorial space of the Mapuche people, which began in 1861 by the State of Chile, a territorial conflict began to develop, encompassing extensive territories from the Biobío River to the south and that, to this date, It is not resolved and for which there is no prospect of a solution.

The target space of this conflict, between the Mapuche people and the Chilean State, covers millions of hectares, and amounts to 37,229 km2 if the Arauco Province of the Biobío Region and the La Araucanía Region are included in its entirety if we concentrate in the most critical conflict, that is, more than twice the current size of the Santiago Metropolitan Region. A space that, by itself, contains all the current cultural elements to be recognized and also comprised an economic unit focused on livestock and agriculture, which gave it fame at the time of occupation-colonization, to be called the Barn of Chile.

This economic unit, focused on agricultural production, before 1861, was politically and economically directed in a decentralized way, by the different loncos scattered throughout the space in the so-called Lof; These places were the basic unit of the Mapuche people for territorial administration, that is, from their base social organization -consisting of a family clan- and that included from daily life, the economy, justice, to the administration of violence itself , at its highest level: preparation and deployment for war.

The political union and coordination of these different Lofs, were generating broader territorial spaces, such as the reguas or rehues, which when joined formed the aillarehue and likewise, the union of these constituted the butalmapu, the latter being the greatest expression of alliance Confederate of the Mapuche people. Due to the above, the territorial administration units of the Mapuche people were built from decentralization to broad processes of political, social, economic and military alliances; what earned him throughout the war of Arauco, the versatility to face the challenges that the invader proposed for his conquest, a situation that did not occur until the independence of Chile.

Thus, at the time of the conquest and occupation by the Chilean State of these territories, an unquantified amount of Lof, rehue and aillarehue were invaded today, which confederates, constituted the invasion of the four butalmapu; the Lafkenmapu "marine territory", Lelfünmapu "territory of the plains" Inapiremapu "territory next to the snow", Piremapu or Pewenmapu "territory of the snow" or "land of the araucarias" respectively.

Knowing the evolution of space in time, in order to understand territorial conflicts, takes us to the dimension that Heidegger raises where he pointed out that “space contains compressed time. That's what space is for ”, our history and our conflicts are contained there. Today the territorial conflict of the Mapuche people and the Chilean State, is locked in millions of hectares of time.

Understanding the spatial configuration of the Mapuche people gives us light for possible solutions, because regardless of the Chilean invasion, the territorial structure indicated above continues to be present in space. Today the territorial conflict is basically produced by the superposition of organizational structures on the part of the Mapuche people and the Chilean State, the latter being the one that orders in a diametrically inverse manner, that is, from territorial centralization in all its powers, the legal administration within the framework of the rule of law and the monopolistic application of centralized violence.

In that order of ideas, the current social struggles of the Mapuche people, although they have a common place in the discursive order, they do not have it from the point of view of space. That is to say, and just to give an example, that the social demand of the Mapuches of the current commune of Ercilla in terms of discourses is quite similar to that of the Mapuches of the commune of Cañete, however, the spaces claimed territorially and that they are probably your old Lofs, they are not the same, each case being particular; because the evolution and administration of the territory has been differentiated in the processes of territorial order of the Chilean State; Call it the installation of estates and deeds of mercy, agrarian reform, against agrarian reform, concentration of land and agricultural and forestry capital.

For all the above, it will be an advance in the recognition of the Mapuche people by the Chilean State, to understand the spatial configuration of these territories, where we do know with certainty that the conflict is, but we do not know what the history of each one of them is. the Lofs present in the space, which today is administered by the State and which with its management of more than 130 years, has impoverished the vast majority of the Mapuche people and generated the most important territorial conflict in our new history. Being this decoding of the Mapuche territorial space the gateway to the solution of the conflict, in the recognition of the Mapuche people and a step no less than the installation of political dialogue, between the actors involved, that recognizes two nations with equal rights, for the search for a consensual solution.

* Geographer from the University of Chile.

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