Battling for Sovereignty: The Mapuche vs Benetton

The Most Revolutionary Act

Defiance of the Mapuche

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

The Mapuche people are indigenous to the Patagonia region that straddles southern Chile and Argentina. They never recognized either Chilean or Argentinian sovereignty. During the 19th century they were driven off their ancestral lands, which at present are owned by foreign billionaires (the most prominent being Alessandro Benetton, owner of the Benetton fashion empire) and a timber company that is destroying the local ecosystem by farming and clear cutting forests that are unsuited to the Patagonian climate.

Two years ago a group of Mapuche families occupied a small section of Benetton’s land and started farming it. This led to increasing paramilitary violence by both governments, involving house- to-house raids, beatings, extrajudicial assassinations and imprisonment based on trumped up terrorism charges.

A series of peaceful protests against government violence only led to increasing government repression. This, in turn, has led to direct…

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