Understanding the Mapuche issues when considering buying forest land in Southern Chile

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Water extractivism has contributed to water scarcity and has dispossessed people of adequate levels of water consumption in the Mapuche territory of southern Chile. The communities suffering severe water shortages are in the poorest socio-economic strata and are generally located in rural areas; Mapuche
communities and Chilean peasants are disproportionately affected. Although the Chilean government and its municipalities are making a huge effort to cope with the water crisis by deploying water trucks, according to the area’s Mapuche and Chilean communities, this is insufficient. The growing
marginalisation of these communities regarding their access to drinking water has triggered a decolonisation process of the Mapuche people. They are struggling to recover not only water but also land, native forests, autonomy, dignity, and their cultural practices. Water unites all these processes. As the interviews and data from this paper suggest, water extractivism via forestry plantations explains only part of the lack of drinking water. Further research must fill in the knowledge gaps concerning the relationships between and feedback loops among water extractivism, climate change, drought, and lack of drinking water.

Research must investigate how these factors, collectively and respectively, are responsible for the water crisis and how they each contribute to disruption and the rise of resistance/decolonisation struggles.

The lessons from this case study in southern Chile highlight the heuristic potential of the proposed concept of water extractivism. First, in Latin American countries, water extractivism is closely related to the coloniality of nature and to the historical, political, spatial, and socio-environmental processes
associated with producing commodities for export. Second, water extractivism is a relational concept in that it implies a historical-geographical, dialectical analysis of state policies and corporate power and the community responses to those powers.


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