Resistance of the Mapuche Community of Yani, Lov Rali Cura, Against the Forest Industry (Wallmapu, Chile)

This article comes from the autonomous media project, Radio Kurruf, and details the ongoing struggle of the Mapuche community of Yani, Lov Rali Cura, in its fight for territorial recuperation against the forest industry in Chile. The article speaks to the continued coordination between the Chilean National Police Forces and the forest industry in repressing Mapuche movements struggling for territorial recuperation, in order to defend the interests of monoculture forestry. The original in Spanish can be found on the Radio Kurruf website here.


Caleta Yani is part of the District of Arauco (Rag ko) and is located 45 km from the town of the same name on highway P-40. For four years, the Mapuche community of Yani, Lov Rali Cura, has been engaged in a struggle for the territorial recuperation of 235 hectares.

Lorena Ancan, spokeswoman of the community, as well as community members, claim to have the property title that dates back to 1869. This title was ratified by a current domain title granted by the property register in December of 2018 under the name of Juan Huenchuman, heir of the community of Yani. This legal backing is one of the sources that have motivated the expansion of the process of land recuperation. Until now, the lands had been held by Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO).

CELCO is a mega-corporation formed in 1979, the result of the fusion of two companies: Arauco S.A. (1967) and Celulosa Constitución S.A. (1969), both privatized during the military dictatorship in the years of 1977 and 1979 respectfully. Currently, this forestry company is controlled by Grupo Angellini, and specifically by the Sociedad Anónima AntarChile S.A., which also has investments in fuel (Copel, Abastible and Metrogas), energy (Guacolda), mining (Isla Riesco), fishing (Corpesca and Orizon), technology (Sigma), insurance (Cruz del Sur) and agricultural (Siemel y Valle Grande) sectors, making it one of the largest business conglomerates of South America.

One of the biggest cellulose plants in the country, Planta Horcones, is soon to be located in Arauco. With the project to modernize and expand the Arauco Plant of Horcones, known as “Project MAPA”, they threaten to increase production to 2.1 million tons, which implies an enormous environmental impact. For this project, the multinational forestry company gathered an investment of 2,350 million dollars and seeks to have the project operating by 2021.

Environmental impacts caused by forest monoculture and the cellulose industry in Chile

Process of Territorial Recuperation:

Four years ago the community of Yani began the process of territorial recuperation. Since the beginning, the community has worked simultaneously in the territorial, cultural and historical reconstruction of the space. On the territory, according to community members, there exists a family cemetery where the remains of local Lonko and Machi are buried, a space currently beneath a forest plantation.

In consequence, in January, Lorena Ancan, the current spokeswoman of the community, solicited an archeological inspection. The report confirmed the presence of “monochrome ceramic fragments of thick walls possibly associated with the early or late historical pottery period.”

The Joint Response of Arauco Forestry and the Chilean National Police:

In light of the territorial recuperation and the decision the community members of Yani, Lov Tali Cura, to begin collective work projects on the territories, the mega forestry company has responded by imposing a protection measure, which has resulted in indiscriminate repression against the community and an illegal eviction order.

On April 11th, the community suffered attacks by Chilean Special Police Forces, which lasted through April 12th. What is the motive for this operation? According to members of the community, “Chilean Special Police Forces showed up with an eviction order sought by Arauco Forestry and signed by Andres Ortiz Jimenez, but not by a judge as the law dictates.” At the time of the eviction, Special Forces were present with weapons, alongside forestry officials.

This is not the first time, in the Province of Arauco, that the forestry company has carried out these types of operations, with the forestry company and Special Police Forces acting hand in hand. On March 12th, 2018, in an eviction operation against the Paine Antileo family, two houses, a warehouse and a greenhouse were destroyed. In this operation, personnel participated from the Special Forces of the Chilean National Police and workers of Arauca Forestry. This operation was carried out in spite of the Paine Antileo family exhibiting documentation proving their ownership of the land in dispute. The acts carried out during that eviction are described in detail by Cecilia Palma Leal in the following document: “Minuta observación de caso: Desalojo Familia Paine Antileo del INDH.”

These situations repeat themselves due to the interests of Arauco Forestry to continue administering the lands usurped for the purposes of pine and eucalyptus monoculture. The acts that took place on April 11th– 12th are the response to the community’s decision to carry out collective work projects with the intention of ending monoculture production in their territory.

Chronology of Resistance:

The eviction process began during the morning of April 11th, 2019, with the presence of Chilean Special Police Forces and an eviction order qualified as “illegal.”

In a video shared on Facebook by the media outlet Aukin, a member of the community can be heard saying to the Special Forces: “But look, how you come to remove us with arms of war. There are unarmed people here, you want to rob us of our land.” The first attempt at eviction ended with three people detained and transferred to the Second Precinct of Arauco with the intention of bringing them to a hearing with unknown charges. Special police forces also seized the tractor of the community, in the presence of the executives of Arauco Forestry.

Children and adults of the community described the arrival of Special Forces as “violent”. They said that Special Forces indiscriminately shot tear gas canisters at the houses of the community members as well as at the school. In spite of this, during the evening of April 11th, the community regained control of the recuperated territory, along with the tractor, by blocking some of the roads. Their intention was to prevent repression and also prevent the passage of Special Forces, other police forces and company personal, who had come to harvest the land.

Road blockade set up by the community

On April 12th, Special Forces that were stationed next to the school besieged the community. In the sector, they started forest fires, which according to community members, were the result of repression carried out with tear gas canisters. The community suspects these fires were intentional. They lasted for various days.

On the same day of April 12th, Lorena Ancan sought to contact the district attorney of Arauco, to receive the details of the operation, which the community has denounced as illegal. The community also tried to get in touch with the government of Arauco, to talk about the conflict between the Lov and Arauco Forestry. Neither attempt was successful. At the same time the community sought dialogue, the government sent Special Forces to break the road blockades in order to protect the eucalyptus and pine plantations.

On April 13th, the community released the following communiqué:

Public Communiqué:

Yani Estate. The hunger of Arauco Forestry has lead to an attack on the families ANCAN HUENCHUMAN of the Yani sector. This attack took place not more than 10 kilometers from the development of the project MAPA, with the city of Arauco in sight and with the patience of the Independent Mayor U.D.I and prosecutor Ortiz. Ortiz is a nephew of a Supreme Court judge, and descendant of the Chilean Latifundio. The attack was carried out utilizing tools of the Chilean State, the Jungla Command, to protect moneyed interests against the defense of the Mapuche families in the sector of Yani. These Mapuche are descendants of Juan Huenchuman, a Lonko from these lands. These lands were usurped during the Agrarian Reform where new ownership titles appeared authored by Gabriel Fernandes Pucheu, today retired lawyer of Arauco Forestry.

For the respect of our Mapuche people, Mother Earth and her resources, MARI CHI WEU.

On April 14th the community was granted a meeting with the municipality of Arauco. At the same time, the DAEM stopped all academic activities, causing the community to suspect a new eviction attempt. On that same Monday, April 14th, different communities of the province traveled to Arauco to meet in a Trawü in Cerro Colo Colo in order to provide support for the community of Yani. From there, it was decided to walk together toward the municipality of Arauco, in order to speak with the mayor, Mauricio Alarcón Guzmán.

Finally, on Monday April 15th, a march was held in the city of Arauco along with other communities of the zone. After the march, members of the Mapuche community of Yani, Lov Rali Cura, the municipality of Arauco and representatives of the company, Arauco Foresty, met without reaching an agreement regarding the real owner of the disputed lands.