Chilean police illegally entering Hotel Hanga Roa to forcibly evict the Hitorangi Clan from their ancestral land, February 6, 2011

On Friday, February 18th, Chile’s Secretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, announced that an agreement has been reached to return land associated with recent Rapa Nui protests over to the Rapa Nui people. Specifically, the Schiess family — who own the disputed land — agreed to donate their private property on Easter Island to a private Rapa Nui foundation; the foundation, self-named, is comprised of their business associates, specifically the ex-governor and mayor Pedro Edmunds.  The Hitorangi Clan — the original owners of the hereditary land — were never consulted.   Secretary Hinzpeter called this a “final solution” for this ongoing problem and referred to it as a “historic moment” that came, in part, due to “great generosity” on the part of the Schiess family. Hinzpeter added that Chile “owes a debt to its Indigenous peoples” and that this type of agreement further demonstrates Chile’s love of Easter Island and respect for its people.

The Hitorangi clan was taken by surprise as they were not consulted about it whatsoever and, furthermore, that the very idea of having the land donated in this capacity was discussed weeks ago and rejected. The Clan feels that the decision was merely an attempt to improve the Chilean Government’s image, and then reiterated that they would continue their fight until all Rapa Nui lands were once again controlled by the Rapa Nui people.

Also keeping in mind that, this agreement comes less than two weeks after the Hitorangi Clan was forcibly and illegally removed from the Hotel Hanga Roa by Chilean special forces, and Judge Nora Bahamondes ruling to suspend charging such Clan members with usurpation until it has been decided who are the legitimate owners of the disputed land.

Although the precise terms of the agreement made on February 18th have yet to be published, a few things are clear:

1-  The Schiess family will continue their use of the Hitorangi Clan’s land for a period of 30 years, after which time it will be passed over to the private foundation called Rapa Nui.  The foundation comprises of Rapa Nui business associates of the Schiess family, excluding representation of the Hitorangi Clan.  Through this agreement technically the land will be returned to the Rapa Nui people, however not to the land’s respective Clan owner, the Hitorangi Clan.

2- A Presidential Commissioner will be appointed to Easter Island.  This person will report and advise the President on Easter Island policies, and will be in charge of coordinating efforts to further address any outstanding issues there.

The Hitorangi Clan is outraged that the land was not returned to their family and that a such “solution” could be made without being consulted.

Chilean police arrive in private Schiess van to the Hotel Hanga Roa to forcibly and illegally remove the Hitorangi Clan from their ancestral land, February 6, 2011.

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