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.
In 2001, Mapuche communites affected by Boyeko, Kilako, and Ankúe landfills pressed on public authorities to take action. A commission was established and visited the landfills of Ankúe in Gorbea, Boyeko in Temuco and Kilaco in Purén. It checked out numerous of the damages pointed out by the Mapuches. Still no improvements of the public policies happened; Boyeko was even given the authorization to expand. Facing such aberrations Mapuches affected by Boyeko decided to take legal action. In 2002, a civil lawsuit was presented on behalf of 39 Mapuche families against Temuco municipality and the Guillemo Siles company . Unaddressed demands led to more than a decade of campaigns, open letters and tensed dialogue with the public authorities.
The issue with the landfills can be partially explained by the heavy past of governmental politics and the Chilean society’s divides. For many centuries Mapuches have suffered marginalization and racism. In 2007, RADA together with the entity coordinating the communities affected in the 9th Chilean Region, presented a report to the the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, denouncing the Chilean governement environmental racism against Mapuche peoples. The UN Committee seized the case and follows up on the evolution of the situation.
In the spirits of our times, the Chilean government is using its anti-terrorist law to incriminate Mapuche activists. In a report submitted to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2013, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization together with the Mapuche Foundation (FOLIL) and the Asociación Tierra y Libertad para Arauco ask for the reform of the anti-terrorist law “to exclude arson and destruction of property“ .
Pressured by the sourrunding impacted communities since 2000 and challenged by the SMA, the Chilean governement announced in 2011 the closing of Boyeko landfill by the end of 2016. Even though the SMA have already heavily fined the Tumeco municipality for its lack of action, the closing is postponed at least until 2021 but an exact date hasn't even been decidied [3 & 4]. In the late 2014 was denounced an illegal landfill a kilometer away from the one of Boyeko .