CAÑETE – In the province of Arauco in the Bíobío region, history has been made in a court ruling. Judge Carmen Seguel ordered Bosques Arauco, a forestall company, to restore 97 hectares of land to the indigenous Ignacio Huilipan community. For the last couple of years, the land had been a conflict between the community and the Angelini Group owned company.
National press has qualified the court ruling as historic, as it’s one of the first times an indigenous community ges land restored, originally belonging to their people. The area, 97 hectares, which can be compared with 97 soccer fields, had already been commercially exploited by the forestall company, Bosques Arauco for over some years. The company, owned by the Angelini Group, is expected to go in appeal. Will they lose the higher appeal too, than the Angelini Group is to pay for all expenses to restore the land.
Carmen Seguel, judge of the Civil Court in Cañete, decided to restore the land as she claimed Bosques Arauco trespassed “the natural borders of the property, which was limited to the Chan Chan estuary”. She then passed a resolution, recognizing the property claims of the Ignacio Huilipan community, in the Arauco province of the Bíobío region.
Support for the indigenous movement
Other forestall companies will have followed the trial with special interest, as in the southern regions forestall companies often cross paths with indigenous communities, who claim ownership over their ancestral lands. In the Araucanía- and Bíobío regions, forestall machinery gets attacked on a weekly basis by extremist groups, who feel their people don´t profit from the exploitation of the natural resources in the area. The court ruling today, by recognizing indigenous rights and restoring ancestral land, is expected to have strengthen their faith and will to get back indigenous territory.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.