World Rainforest Movement

International Prize awarded to two Mapuche women

The Heinrich Böll Foundation awarded the Petra Kelly Prize 2000 to two Mapuche women –Berta and Nicolasa Quintremán Calpán– as a recognition of their struggle to protect the Mapuche Pehuenche’s rights against the Spanish ENDESA Company and the Chilean Government over the construction of the RALCO dam.

The RALCO dam would be the second of the six hydroelectric dams ENDESA has planned to build along the Bio Bio river. The first dam –the Pangue dam– was completed in 1997 only 30 km down the same river, and received a US$ 150 million loan from the World Bank. This was eventually recognized by World Bank’s president James Wolfensohn as having been a big mistake. The Bank was even accused “of contributing to ethnocide of the Mapuche-Pehuenche indigenous community.”

If implemented, the RALCO dam would swamp a vast area of Chilean forests and some 600 Mapuche Pehuenche people would be removed from their land as well as other families from the Upper Bio-Bio area. Communities from Callaqui, Pitril, Cauñicu, Malla Malla and Trapa Trapa would be radically affected.

With the establishment of the Petra Kelly Prize, the Heinrich Böll Foundation seeks to “recognise individuals and groups whose outstanding and visionary activism serves to foster the respect for and promotion of universal human rights, non-violent conflict resolution, and the protection of the natural environment.” The prize was also designed “to provide political support to the prize-winner and contribute to publicising his/her concerns and activities”. These two Mapuche Pehuelche women, who have been fighting for the rights of their people since 1992 truly deserve recognition and international support for their ongoing struggle.