The Austin Chronicle

Tales That Must Be Told

Previewing the ninth Cine las Americas

By Marrit Ingman, April 14, 2006, Screens


D: Manel Mayol

The Mapuche people of South America survived conquest by the Incas and the Spanish, as well as assimilation by the state of Chile. But will they survive construction of the Ralco hydroelectric power station? When ENDESA, a multinational company with roots in Spain, of all places, began the project in 1997, Mapuche families living along the Biobío River were offered land, animals, tools, and relocation assistance in return for the voluntary exchange of their land, but many refused to leave; some that did allege on camera that they've been marooned in the Andean hinterlands with unsafe housing and, ironically, no electricity. Those who remained claim they've been sold out for progress; that Chile's Indigenous Law has been flouted by then-president Eduardo Frei, that Mapuches protesting the Ralco station have been rounded up and prosecuted for arson and conspiracy under Chile's anti-terrorist legislation, and that many have been forced into hiding to avoid unfair trials with dozens of anonymous informants testifying against them. Newspaper editor Pedro Cayuqueo says he was arrested and interrogated for participating in this documentary. Meanwhile, we see director Mayol trying to obtain comment from officials at ENDESA for the film. He never succeeds. Though shakily edited at times, the film soundly condemns the Chilean government's capitulation to the company – ENDESA owns 67% of the nation's water, we're told – and steadily accumulates evidence supporting its message.

April 22, 4pm, Metropolitan

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