top of page

Courtesy of 

Pablo E. Piovano

Unity and Diversity

Third Place

Pablo E. Piovano

Mapuche, the return of the ancient voices


The Mapuche, the original people that inhabited South American Patagonia before the arrival of Columbus in America, resisted the Spanish invasion from the 16th century, then the formation of the states of Chile and Argentina, at the end of the 19th century and currently at the large extractive companies. Unlike other indigenous peoples, who tend to disappear, the Mapuche people are deepening a process of unprecedented territorial recovery in one of the most virgin areas with the largest reservoirs of water and biodiversity of the continent. Faced with the advance of the oil, forestry, hydroelectric and mining industries, different Mapuche communities rise up on one side and the other of the Andes Mountains (Argentina and Chile) to defend the water and the land. In Argentine Patagonia, Mapuche communities denounce the socio-environmental disasters in their territories generated by Vaca Muerta, the second largest unconventional gas reserve and the fourth largest unconventional oil reserve in the world. The most important oil companies globally carry out fracking in that region. It is estimated that in the underground there is the equivalent of 19.9 billion barrels of oil and 583 trillion cubic feet of gas. In Chile in 1974, a decree signed by the dictator Augusto Pinochet gave forest companies unlimited power. Pine and eucalyptus plantations destroyed more than 90 percent of the native forest. Two of the most important forestry companies, Arauco and Mininco, have more than 4 million hectares in the territory that is claimed by the Mapuche people.
Currently, the constant recovery of land has become one of the biggest problems for the states that respond with militarization of the territory and political, judicial and media persecution. The demands of the Mapuche people were also protagonists in the social outbreak at the end of 2019 in Chile, where a social and political process is taking place and is catching the eye of the world.

bottom of page