Apaga y vamonos by Mayol, Manel
The Pehuenche are part of the Mapuche people and live in the Andes in Central and Southern Chile and Argentina. The Mapuche successfully resisted many attempts by the Incas to subjugate them. Initial invasions by Spanish conquistadors in the late 16th century were also repelled by the Mapuche. The Biobio river was the traditional border between the southern Mapuche self-ruled areas and northern Spanish-ruled Kingdom of Chile. The territory south of the river was not incorporated into the Chilean state until the 1880s.
Energy sector in Chile
The electricity sector in Chile relies predominantly on hydro power generation (+/- 60% of total energy output in 2006). The Ralco hydroelectric power station and dam is the nation's largest hydroelectric plant. Chile's second and third largest hydroelectric power plants (Pangue and Pehuenche) have also proven controversial with local indigenous people and seriously affected the water rights of farmers further downstream. Chile's privatization of the energy sector in the early 1980s served as a model for other countries.
Mapuche spokesperson Alihuen Antileo states that, "American gold and silver laid the foundation of the world's capitalist system." Despite many attempts, the Spanish conquistadors never succeeded in subjugating the Mapuche. However, the recent damming of the Biobio river, the former La Frontera, by a Spanish multinational seems a startling symbolic act, entailing the final subjection of the Mapuche. According to spokesperson Antileo, "Just as before, [the Mapuche] finance the material progress of European capitalism."
The documentary mainly focuses on the aggrieved Pehuenche. The apparent bias of the documentary is countered in the few shots in which documentary filmmaker Manel Mayol is present on screen. In these shots he is seen telephoning, attempting to arrange an interview with a representative of Endesa. Unfortunately, his many requests fall on deaf ears. These shots convey the sense of an attempted balanced analysis of the conflict while also underlining the constructed nature of the documentary.
About the filmmaker
Born in Barcelona, Spain, documentary filmmaker Manel Mayol studied fine arts, architecture, and photography at Huddersfield technical college. Over the last 15 years he has been making documentaries and worked for different television and production companies throughout Spain. His work has been shown in many European cities and in the United States. You can read more about the rest of the film crew on the official documentary website.
Best film, Planet in focus; Toronto, Canada, 2005 ~ Best film, 'Testimonies' Ecocinema; Athens, Greece, 2005 ~ Special Prize, International Film Festival Dignity and Work; Gdansk, Poland, 2005 ~ Excellence Prize, GFFIS Green Film Festival; Seoul, South-Korea, 2007 ~
You can read more about the conflict in Jose Aylwin's paper, The Ralco Dam And The Pehuenche People In Chile: Lessons From An Ethno-Environmental Conflict (2002). Jose Aylwin is a Researcher at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL) and Associate Professor and Researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Indigenas, Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile.