miércoles, 11 de marzo de 2009

YES! Magazine Spring 2003: Our Planet, Our Selves

YES! Magazine Spring 2003: Our Planet, Our Selves

Keeping the Balanceby Lisa Gale GarriguesAt the tip of South America, the Mapuche are re-discovering their power to heal themselves and the Earth as they struggle with the effects of oil exploitation, repression, and illness

The Maquehue hospital is an hour-long bus ride from Temuco, Chile, at the end of a dirt road that winds through lush green countryside, passing small farms, slow-moving cows and untethered grazing horses along the way.
There are no imposing multi-storied buildings here, no armies of doctors in important white coats, no polished corridors smelling of disinfectant. Just a couple of simple wooden buildings, one of them with a thatched roof, and next to them a garden of medicinal herbs.

A young Mapuche dances the sacred ostrich in an "earth balancing" ceremony

But in these simple buildings a unique experiment in intercultural medicine is taking place. The hospital integrates the traditional medical knowledge of the indigenous Mapuche people with modern medicine, putting into practice the Mapuche view of health as a holistic balance that includes the individual, the family, the community, and the environment. That balance is threatened. In many areas of Chile and Argentina, the Mapuche are fighting an ongoing battle with multinational corporations for their own health and the health of their environment. In the oil-rich province of Neuquen, in Argentina, where babies and animals have been born with severe birth defects, the Mapuche are suing the Spanish oil company Repsol for damages. Lead has been discovered in the blood of members of other communities in the area, and the traditional healing herbs no longer grow because of disturbance from oil drilling. In another community, local people marched into the offices of a local ski resort, waving branches of trees filled with toilet paper from the resort. And in Chile, just a few miles away from the Maquehue hospital, a 17-year-old demonstrator was killed by police in December during demonstrations against a logging company.

For many Mapuche, the recovery at places like Maquehue of their kimun, or traditional knowledge, and the demonstrations against oil, tourism, mining, and logging companies are part of the same effort, an effort to fulfill their role as “keepers of the earth in balance.”

The Mapuche, who number about 1.5 million, have populated the region of flat desert and pine-covered mountains in southern Chile and Argentina for thousands of years. Settlement by outsiders and multi-national exploitation of their land have left many of them struggling to maintain both their traditions and their health. In the communities around Temuco, they have been suffering from many of the same illnesses that face other Native American people: diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis. When they showed up to be treated at the local hospital, they encountered racism and neglect.

“Our objective was for our people to recognize their own medicine and leave dependence on mainstream culture behind them,” says hospital director Carlos Zuñiga, as he sits behind a desk in a small upstairs office. Zuñiga is a dark-haired man in his forties who talks in bursts of enthusiasm.

“The attitude at the county hospital was ‘here comes another smoke-smelling Indian,'” said Zuñiga. “It was not a health service, it was a disease-producing service.”

In response, Zuñiga and other community members created the Indigenous Health Association, got a small grant from the Chilean government, and convinced a local Anglican church to lease them their unused hospital. Now their 40-bed facility employs 32 people and sees 60 patients a day. Former ambulance driver Zuñiga was elected by community members to direct the hospital, a role he carries out in the Mapuche tradition of “leading by obeying” the dictates of the community he serves.

For the Mapuche, he explains, a disease is not just something that strikes an isolated individual, but occurs within the context of the family, the community, and the environment. A patient who visits the Maquehue hospital is asked a series of questions about family, neighbors, the year's harvest, and what the patient believes about why he or she is sick. A patient can choose to be seen by one of the two doctors on staff, or be treated by one of the eleven machis, or traditional healers, who work out of their homes in the neighboring area. There's also an Anglican pastor and Catholic priest available.

Family members are often included in the consultation process, and if a patient needs to stay overnight or several days in the hospital, family members are encouraged to stay with them.
Zuñiga draws a line on a piece of paper, with the word “pain” on one end and “disease” on the other.

“Western medicine,” he says, “starts here, with the pain. Mapuche medicine starts with the disease, which is viewed as an imbalance within the person. For us, the disease is caused by a transgression of some kind by the individual, against himself, his family, his community, or his environment.”

“In western medicine, a doctor will give the patient something to treat the pain. In Mapuche medicine, a machi, or traditional healer, treats the disease itself as an entity, and establishes a dialogue with it to find out what the original transgression was and re-establish balance.”

The machi, who is usually, but not always, a woman, might conduct a ceremony, sing or administer medicinal plants. She might enlist other members of the community to participate in a Machitun, a healing ceremony in which young men play the part of warriors, whose role it is to fight off the disease. The machi frequently keeps several patients at a time in her home, which serves as a kind of hospital ward. Other traditional healers, including bone-setters, prayer-singers, and herbalists, might also be involved in the healing.

Seeking the advice of eldersCommunity involvement itself can sometimes be the cure for a disease. When the hospital began, the council of elders was asked to send proposals and advice. One man, who had been chronically ill for some time, immediately began to recuperate as he became involved in putting together the hospital.

Drawing on the council of elders, Zuñiga says, is something that has given him great joy. “In Mapuche tradition, our elders and their wisdom are valued, not thrown away.”

In addition to seeing patients on site, staff at Maquehue also run several rural outposts in outlying areas and see patients in their homes, piling equipment and supplies into a large white van that also serves as an ambulance. Jackie Pinson, a blonde medical student from Australia, was hanging onto her seat in the back of the van on a recent bumpy trip to one of the outposts as she spoke of how much she had learned from her three days of visiting Maquehue.
“It's different from the impersonal attitude I'm used to in Australia,” she says. “They're relaxed, but efficient, giving patients the time they need to tell their stories.”

Pinson is one of several foreign medical students who have visited Maquehue to observe an intercultural health program at work.
At the rural outpost, over 60 people sit inside the tiny wooden building or wait outside to be treated. “With this many people, it's not always possible to be as thorough as we'd like,” says Carlos La Braña, the young doctor on duty. But even with this many patients, La Braña, a non-Mapuche, is able to integrate Mapuche traditions in his brief consultations as he and Mapuche medical technician Gabriela Ellada take blood pressures and temperatures, listen to heartbeats, and hand out antibiotics. One woman who reports having nightmares is asked if she is still sleeping with her Bible next to her bed, a Christianized version of the Mapuche custom of sleeping with a knife next to your bed to protect yourself against bad dreams.

The Maquehue hospital is part of an overall effort by the Mapuche of both Argentina and Chile to include their knowledge of health and the environment in existing health and educational systems. Several Chilean schools are adopting an intercultural model that teaches Mapuche traditions, and in Temuco, Chile, Cecile Nahuelchoe Quidel of the Mapuche Women's Center is organizing a databank of knowledge of Mapuche women healers.

Like other Mapuche, Quidel emphasizes the importance of the environment in overall health. “You can only exist in context with your environment,” says Quidel. “When your environment is healthy, so are you.”

Mapuche spokesperson Veronica Huilipan sees the Mapuche effort to keep the earth in balance as important not just for the Mapuche. “When it rains, it rains for everyone,” she writes in the Mapuche newsletter Werken Kvrvf. “When it snows, it snows for all of us, and when the environment is contaminated, it is contaminated for all of us.”

Like the Mapuche communities throughout Argentina and Chile who are facing the encroachment of multi-national corporations, what the Mapuche people who operate the Maquehue hospital want is the autonomy to control what happens to their community, and to keep their community healthy. The biggest challenge they are currently confronting is their relationship with the directors of the Anglican church, who have told the community they want to take the land back after their five-year lease is up and do away with the hospital. Though some Mapuche feel the land was loaned to the church by the Mapuche in the first place, the community leaders have offered to buy the land from the church, an offer that so far has been rejected.

Despite the uncertainty of the future of their lease, and a frequent lack of material resources, hospital staff and community members have faith that they'll be able to keep the Maquehue hospital going, and that it can become a model for other intercultural programs that nourish and value the rich indigenous traditions of the American continent.

“The Mapuche have a lot to offer the world,” says Mapuche writer and philosopher Lorenzo Loncon, “if only the world would listen.”

Lisa Gale Garrigues is a writer who lives in Argentina. She can be reached at



Comisión Ética de la verdad se pronunció - Número 4683-Martes 10 de Marzo de 2009 -

Comisión Ética de la verdad se pronunció

En el Golfo siguen amenazando

Lorenzo Locon Belmar, de Chile; Eduardo Nachmann, de Argentina, y Pilar Sánchez González, de España, durante la rueda de prensa.

Sincelejo. El chileno Lorenzo Loncon Belmar, miembro de la Comisión Ética de la Verdad, denunció ayer que la desmovilización de las autodefensas fue una farsa y para decirlo se fundamenta en las experiencias encontradas el fin de semana en visita realizada al Golfo de Morrosquillo.Aseguró que en esta parte de Sucre el movimiento paramilitar no se ha extinguido, pero ahora opera de otra forma y siguen intimidando a la población.Coincidió con sus otros dos compañeros, Pilar Sánchez González, de España, y Eduardo Nachmann, de Argentina, en que muchas verdades no serán descubiertas y menos con la extradición de los jefes paramilitares.También se refirieron a los crímenes de los 11 jóvenes de Toluviejo, catalogados por activistas de derechos humanos como falsos positivos. De este caso recriminaron el que siga en la impunidad dado que hace año y medio se conoció este hecho que, según ellos, fue un genocidio."Se debe enjuiciar y castigar a todos los asesinos con la cárcel, que es el único lugar para ellos", insistieron.“Haremos unas acciones internacionales para empujar al país a una situación de justicia”, dijo Eduardo Nachman.“El Estado tiene que garantizarle a la población la educación, la salud y la vida y desafortunadamente en esta última se está fallando", indicó el chileno Lorenzo Loncon.La Comisión acompaña el Movimiento de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado de Sucre que estuvo en Sucre hasta ayer.




International Ethics Commission For Colombia - Tuesday 27 February 2007

The National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes
(Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Crímenes de Estado) presents the initiative to accompany the communities and grass roots organizations gravely affected by violence carried out by the State and through the paramilitary strategy. Nobel Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, well known victims’ associations from several countries, and distinguished lawyers and academics, have decided to offer their support to the victims of State-sponsored violence in Colombia.

Thousands of crimes against humanity and human rights violations have been committed throughout the different phases of repression and paramilitary operations in Colombia since 1962. Because the memory of these crimes and violations need to be known, protected, and safeguarded, 25 well known notables and organizations with great moral character have come together to participate in an Ethics Commission.

This Commission aims to be in session over the span of ten years to collect evidence, documents, objects, testimonies, and accounts by victims, families and communities from throughout Colombia. The Commission also aims to support initiatives for memory, dignity, and comprehensive reparation. It will also be an opportunity to ensure the protection of communities that have fought over the years for their fundamental rights and for the respect for their territories.

The members of the Ethics Commission consider that Law 975 of 2005 denies essential aspects of the rights of the victims. This is not only because this law ignores the international standards which established these rights, but also because the Constitutional Court’s ruling (which attempted to bring the law closer to international standards) is being evaded through different presidential decrees. Likewise, the members of this Ethics Commission consider that the National Commission of Reparation and Reconciliation has disregarded the participation of the victims and lacks the necessary autonomy and independence from the Colombian government.

The members of the Ethics Commission, which will be publicly presenting their objectives and goals, will also be meeting with the victims in the city of Bogotá, Cacarica (Lower Atrato, Department of Chocó), San Onofre (Department of Sucre), and Barrancabermeja (Department of Santander).

Over the course of the following ten years, the members of the Ethics Commission will safeguard the confidentiality of many of the acts told by the victims. The Commission will also be publicly speaking out against other acts. The members of the Commission will also present the results of their work to the public as input for a Truth Commission, which would offer real guarantees for the victims of crimes against humanity and genocide.

The proposal for the Ethics Commission has been promoted by the National Movement of Victims of State-Sponsored Crimes, which brings together nearly 200 victims’ organizations from throughout Colombia. The Ethics Commission aims to affirm the Right to Memory and Truth.

8 members of the Ethics Commission will be in Colombia from February 15 to March 3.
The following members of the Commission will be in Colombia:

* Mirta Baravalle from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo – Founding Line (Argentina),
* Libertad Sánchez Gil from the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory of Mérida and Comarca (Spain),
* Enrique Nuñez from the Ethics Commission against Torture,
* Lorenzo Loncon from the Mapuche Indigenous People (Chile),
* Francine Damasceno Piñeiro from the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement - MST (Brazil),
* Carlos Fazio, Research Professor at UACM and UNAM, writer and journalist for the newspaper La Jornada (Mexico),
* Alberto Giraldéz, representing the Santo Tomás Community from Madrid (Spain),
* Bernardine Dohrn, Lawyer and Specialist on Child Rights, Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University in Chicago (USA).
The following persons also make up the Ethics Commission:
* Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (Argentina),
* Francois Houtar, director of CETRI-Belgium and founding member of the World Social Forum,
* Thomas Gumbleton, Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit (USA),
* Gilberto López y Rivas, director of Etnología y Antropología, author of works on Anthropology, Tribal and Indigenous Peoples, and Social Cultural Resistance,
* Miguel Álvarez, expert on issues of peace and conflict negotiation, member of Serapaz,
* Elizabeth Deligio, member of School of the Americas Watch (USA).


500 años sin justicia: indígena Lorenzo Loncon 2009-03-09

[2009-03-09] INICIO Judicial

500 años sin justicia: indígena Lorenzo Loncon

REDACCIÓN JUDICIAL (9)arincon@elperiodico.com.co

Los últimos cinco meses han reflejado la difícil situación en materia de Derechos Humanos que han venido enfrentando las comunidades indígenas colombianas como consecuencia del conflicto armado.

La masacre de al menos 17 integrantes de la comunidad Awá de Nariño, la muerte del esposo de la líder nativa Ayda Quilcué, y los enfrentamientos entre paeces y la Fuerza Pública en octubre del año pasado en la vía Panamericana, son muestra de ello.

Esta situación no ha sido indiferente a la opinión internacional que ha seguido estos hechos.

Esa es una de las razones por las que Lorenzo Loncon, miembro de del pueblo indígena Mapuche de Chile y miembro de la Comisión de Ética Internacional y quien participó de la marcha el viernes pasado en contra de los falsos positivos, estuvo presente en Colombia.

El nativo, quien tuvo que exiliarse en Argentina con su familia desde los 14 años, debido a la persecución de la dictadura de Augusto Pinochet, habló con El PERIÓDICO sobre las luchas indígenas en América Latina y en específico del conflicto colombiano.

¿Cómo han visto la situación de los indígenas colombianos?

Creemos que los hermanos originarios de Colombia no son solo sombrero y bolsito, sino que tienen derecho a llevar su modo de vida que resulte más apropiado para desarrollarse en armonía con la naturaleza.

El dolor de haber perdido a los nuestros, nos motiva para apoyar a quienes han sido perseguidos por el Estado, para mostrar solidaridad y buscar caminos juntos. Porque en el caso de los pueblos originarios hace 500 años que no tenemos justicia.

¿Cómo recibieron la noticia del asesinato de por lo menos 17 indígenas Awás a manos de las Farc en Nariño?

Nosotros a través de unas redes originarias, recibimos la información. Ahora nosotros no podemos dar fe si realmente fue así, pero lo que decimos es que no queremos muertos de ningún pueblo originario y de ningún hermano, afro, ni campesino. Los grupos armados se deben mantener al margen de la población civil, no usarlos como escudos humanos.

Creemos que esos grupos no pueden sentir la autoridad de masacrar gente civil. Hay decirles que no somos parte del conflicto. Son estas comunidades las más débiles y las que con mayor frecuencia integran las listas de los falsos positivos de muertes sin justificaciones. Además, estos son crímenes que no transcriben, porque son personas que no tienen la fuerza para defenderse.

Poniendo como ejemplo las marchas paeces en Nariño el año pasado ¿cual es límite de las formas de protesta por parte de los indígenas para que no se confunda con terrorismo?

Yo vi las imágenes y creo que fue porque hubo atentados concretos. En la misma marcha se vio que gente de la Policía les disparó a los indígenas. Creo que el Gobierno de Colombia fue acusado de la muerte del esposo de una jefa indígena y eso fue claro.

Eso muestra que nos quieren utilizar de los dos lados poderosos, tanto del Estado y de las Farc, por acusarnos de colaboradores. Nosotros queremos vivir en paz, tranquilos en nuestros territorios sin que nos impongan medidas a la fuerza.

Yo hablaba con lo indígenas Kankuamo y Kogüis, quienes han tenido la mayoría de víctimas en el conflicto. Realmente las bajas están de nuestro lado y otros se reparten la riquezas naturales, las que nosotros no vemos así, las vemos como nuestra madre.

Hay leyes claras en Colombia que protegen los resguardos indígenas, pero cuando descubren un mineral, esas leyes se vuelven papel mojado.

Últimamente han salido informaciones sobre vinculaciones de líderes indígenas con la guerrilla colombiana.

¿Qué piensa de esos posibles nexos?

Yo confío que los hermanos de los pueblos originarios no estén involucrándose con formas de lucha armada. Lo que más se presentan es que ellos han quedado en medio del fuego cruzado. Creo que los hermanos no estamos promoviendo acciones violentas, están defendiendo sus tierras que han sido invadidas.

Habría que preguntarle a las Farc y al Gobierno. Ahí hay dinero de por medio para que los indígenas denuncien actividades ilícitas a favor o en contra de un bando u otro.

Esto genera una división interna. Eso nos pasa en Chile con el Gobierno de Michelle Bachiller, donde se nos quiere hacer ver como un pueblo violentista. Es cierto que estamos contra las políticas forestales, pero no las estamos atacando.

¿Qué opina de las informaciones que salieron el año pasado en relación a que un líder Mapuche tenía nexos con ‘Raúl Reyes’?

En un informe periodístico, un comandante del Ejército de Ecuador dice que el computador de ‘Reyes’ lo donó la CIA y lo hicieron pasar como un material tecnológico bueno. Ahí uno que puede decir.

También se comentó que en él salía nombrado de un líder Mapuche, pero puede ser cualquiera del pueblo Mapuche, ya que es un pueblo muy grande que va del Pacífico al Atlántico. Pero partiendo de la base que el computador lo donó la CIA, yo no creo ninguna información que haya salido de ahí.

No comprendo como ese computador que se encontraba en un campamento que fue bombardeado, sigue dando tanta información.

Hubo un político de derecha en Chile quien vínculo al pueblo Mapuche con las Farc, pero fue el mismo Gobierno chileno el que desmintió esa información.

OTRAS NOTICIAS...500 años sin justicia: indígena Lorenzo LonconEl nativo negó nexos de su pueblo con las Farc. Indígena Mapuche de Chile e integrante de la Comisión de Internacional de Ética, sostuvo que las comunidades nativas en Colombia se encuentran entre dos bandos que violan el ejercicio de sus derechos.