In search of the “good life” of the Mapuche
P. Mario Bússolo, cmf.
Coordinator of the work with the Mapuches
Close to the Wetripantu, the new year of the Mapuche people where
everything is renewed, where with the sunrise another cycle is born, the kimûn
(wisdom) expands and the energies of the diversity of existing lives are
renewed, and where the seed dreams of another tree, I share with you the simple
gestures of a project that is visible in the Patagonian plateau in southern
As a JPIC team (Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation), of the
Claretian community of life in shared mission, for more than three years we
have been carrying out a link and joint work with several Mapuche communities
of the area. The note of this commitment is based on a path shared with the
Mapuche people, where the worldview, language and art flourish and impose
themselves as an expression of determination and autonomy in a country where
discrimination and the denial of their identity and rights are commonplace.
We have the joy of being part of ancestral ceremonies such as Pichi
Nguillatum, the Wetripantu or the Kamaruko, acts that allow one of the most
remarkable gestures of communion with the ancestors and nature, also the
community experience as an original people. We understood that these spaces, so
important to them and to us, were the door to other dreams made concrete in
Another activity was the meeting of a group of women who were interested
in learning the Mapuche loom, an admirable fabric for its beauty and
communication of wisdom. It is a space where the authentic and decisive
presence of the same artisan woman who, with her newen (strength), makes the
community grow and transforms social life. Until now they continue to meet in a
small village called Mamuel Choique, where there is an original community.
We have implemented history and worldview workshops open to the Mapuche
communities and other inhabitants with a more regional approach looking for the
origin of the families. Soon after, we formalized a one-year workshop on
Mapuche language (Mapuzungun) and history endorsed by another study center such
as Cefyt (Center for Philosophical and Theological Studies), first for adults
and then for children from the town where we live, Ingeniero Jacobacci. We also
attend rural primary schools sharing workshops on worldview and language for
the educational community. The proposal was consolidated until a workshop was
formed for the study and sharing of experiences for half a year, organized by
the JPIC team and a National University. Here the axes that were dealt with
were the care of the “Common House” in the light of the Laudato Si,
the Mapuche worldview, history and language.
With sincerity and dedication, we always tried to make their culture
visible and to make it known as a messenger of Good Living, without imposing
anything on our Church, since the full and good life for a society wounded by
selfishness and consumerism is born from their womb. We continue in this path
helped by the area of Solidarity and Mission of the Claretian Congregation.
On the other hand, in articulation with other organizations, Mapuche
communities and individuals of the area, we are involved in the “defense
of water and territory”, against an extractive project of gold and silver.
The company Patagonia Gold is in an exploration process about 80 km from our
town, and where Mapuche communities live, with the aim of plundering the
non-renewable natural goods with the consequent destruction of the land and the
uncontrolled use of water, necessary and fundamental for the sheep production
and the life of the rural inhabitants.
Strategies to raise awareness and make this injustice visible, such as
assemblies, festivals and meetings at the local and provincial level to plan
legal and advocacy actions, are permanent in our political agenda. This is also
supported by the “Churches and Mining” network, an ecumenical space
that seeks to respond to the challenges of the impacts and violations of
socio-environmental rights caused by mining activities in the territories where
we live and work.
The joy and richness received from our native peoples is overwhelming,
their lifestyles and struggles in such an adverse and conflictive context, do
not cease to provoke the dynamics of service and a shared path with our
brothers and sisters of the pre-existing peoples in these lands.
P. Mario Bússolo, cmf