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Landfills in Mapuche Territories, Chile

Governmental environmental racism against native Chilean Mapuches threatens their ancestral territory where have been authorized 17 landfills. Illegal landfills on their lands are also starting to sprout.


From the start of the 1990s over 20 landfill sites were established in the Region of Araucania, the IX region of Chile, Araucania. Today there are 28 landfills, with 17 of these on indigenous Mapuche territory. Since 2000 an environmental conflict has been going, triggered by landfills and waste water affecting Mapuche communities.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Landfills in Mapuche Territories, Chile
State or province:Araucania
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Original plans concerned the construction of 17 landfills. Once in operation, the landfills were going to collect approximately 70 percent of the regional waste, corresponding to 11,000 tons of the 16,000 tons produced per month.

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Type of populationUnknown
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:SILES from Chile
POCURO Constructura from Chile - The company's trucks discharge waste into an illegal landfill nearby the Francisco Lielmil community.
Guillemo Siles - In charge of the Boyeco landfill
Relevant government actors:CONAMA (Environmental Ministry of Chile), Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Chile (SMA), Health Service (Servicio de Salud), Regional Government of Araucania, Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena (Conadi), Asociación de Municipalidades, Municipalidades involucradas, Serplac
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII)
Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR)
UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Mapuche Territorial Alliance - Chile, Mapuche Community Committee for the Closure of Landfill Sites (IX Region) - England, Agrupacin Kona Pewman - Chile, OLCA - Chile, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), Mapuche Foundation (FOLIL), Asociación Tierra y Libertad para Arauco - Chile, Grupo de Trabajo por Derechos Colectivos - Chile, La Red de Acción por los Derechos Humanos (RADA) - Chile
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Fires, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases, Deaths
Potential: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Complaints at the UN:
La ONU expresa su preocupacin por Vertederos y Plantas de Tratamiento de Aguas Servidas en Territorios Mapuche
Development of alternatives:Mapuche communities, and the environmental organizations supporting them, demand end of environmental racism, dismantling of the sites, the restauration of the damaged areas after the closing, a greater responsability in the treatment of the remaining waste [1].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The damages to the indigenous communities have not been repaired. The damages still continue. The affected communities have complained to the United nations in 2007 because of governmental authorities' environmental racism [7].
Public regional authorities (including Temuco municipality) opened dialogue with Mapuche impacted communities in the closing plan of Boyeko since mid-2015 [8].
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Bill no 19.300 - General Law for the Environment (Spanish)

Anti-Terrorism Act (Law 18.314)

Bill no 19.253 - Law for the development and protection of indigenous peoples (Spanish)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

La reforma agraria y las tierras mapuches Chile 1962-1975. M. Correa, R. Molina; N. Nanez. LOM 2005.
[click to view]

Los Mapuches en la sociedad chilena actual. Saavedra, Alejandro. LOM. 2002
[click to view]

El despertar del pueblo Mapuche. autori vari. LOM 2004.
[click to view]

Indigenous Struggles, Environmental Justice, and Community Capabilities, Research Article, D. Schlosberg & D. Carruthers
[click to view]

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers the report of Chile, August 2013
[click to view]

Mapuche Protest, Environmental Conflict, and Social Movement Linkage in Chile, D. Carruthers, January 2009
[click to view]

[1] Informe OLCA: Basurales en comunidades Mapuche: Un conflicto latente en la region de la Araucania, A.H. Seguel, 2003
[click to view]

Language of the land, the Mapuche in Argentina and Chile, L. Ray, 2007
[click to view]

Amnesty International Report, 2004
[click to view]

SUMARIO - Historial: Conflicto basurales en Tierras Mapuche - Racismo socio ambiental / Desde el año 2000 a junio 2007, Mapuche Express, 17/06/2007
[click to view]

Informe de la sociedad civil y comunidades indigenas referido a las observaciones finales Nº 22 & 23, del comite para la eliminacion de la discriminacion racial de Naciones Unidas al Estado de Chile, In: Temuco, July 2013
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Spero News, 2009
[click to view]

Mapuche: How Chile Use Terrorism to Demonise the Indigenous Peoples, November 2015
[click to view]

Mapuche acusan al estado chileno de racismo ambiental, 2/07/2008
[click to view]

Observatorio ciudadano, Chile
[click to view]

Chile's Mapuche, The people and the land, a fight over history and poverty, November 2009
[click to view]

[2] UNPO Report Outlines Discrimination Suffered by the Mapuche in Chile, August 2013
[click to view]

[7] Region IX Indigenous Groups Complain Of Environmental Racism, B. Witte, December 2007
[click to view]

Municipio compromete una mesa de trabajo con intendente sobre Boyeco, 13/09/2015
[click to view]

[8] Importante avance logran comunidades Mapuche de Boyeco por conflicto vertedero, MapuExpress, July 2015
[click to view]

Ante anuncio de cierre del Vertedero Boyeco: Exigen seriedad y responsabilidad al Gobierno, OLCA, 22/12/2011
[click to view]

Chile – Informe por Racismo Ambiental, Adital, 06/08/2009
[click to view]

[3] Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente sancionó a la Municipalidad de Temuco por incumplimientos ambientales, 2013, MapuExpress
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[4] Se posterga iniciativa de Alcalde de Temuco sobre nuevo vertedero, Teledos Noticias, May 2014
[click to view]

[6 ] Video "Problematica ambiental , vertedero Boyeco", Daniela Toro, 1° Concurso de Ecometrajes Ingeniería Ambiental ULagos 2015
[click to view]

[5] New illegal landfill nearby Francisco Lielmil community, Video: "Denuncian vertedero ilegal junto a comunidades mapuche en Temuco", October 2014
[click to view]

Other documents

"No more environmental racism", 2011 demostration against Boyeko landfill OLCA
[click to view]

Waters of the Kuzako estuary polluted by Boyeko landfill Mapuche Express
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl & Camila Rolando Mazzuca
Last update14/01/2016
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