It was a day like any other in the small touristic town of Coñaripe in central Chile. The sun was glistening off the surface of Lake Calafquen, tourists lounged around on the packed-out Pucura beach as jet skis and motorboats whizzed from side to side. The streets were thronging with people from out of town, mostly from Chiles's capital Santiago but the busy summer season also brings people from all over the country who hope to make a decent bounty during this short tourist window. The 2016 local census stated that 22,000 people were living in this area during the summer months but locals believe that figure has more than doubled in recent years. One of the main tourist attractions is the natural thermal baths which are littered around the base of the Villarica volcano. They have seen a considerable entry price increase in recent years from 5-15,000 or 25-40,000 (Chilean pesos) depending on how exclusive you want your experience. Throughout the pandemic, locals saw a huge increase in the number of holiday homes being built and the continued interest of real estate agents that offer early investment packages. This area in Chile has become one of the most popular destinations nationally for tourists and to the untrained eye, it would seem that it is the perfect postcard holiday destination but, underneath the surface other than molten lava and the bubbling geothermic energy is an anger and resentment that has been ongoing for nearly 150 years. The local indigenous Mapuches population has become increasingly worried about what they consider to be an invasion of winkas (the term they use for Chilean/white or western).
The Mapuche conflict re-surfaced in the 1990s following the return of democracy after the brutal years of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The conflict started in areas inhabited mostly by Mapuches like the vicinities of Purén where some indigenous communities have been demanding that certain lands they claim for their own but which are now the property of logging and farming companies and individuals be turned over to them. Several Mapuche organizations are demanding the right of self-recognition in their quality of indigenous peoples as recognized under the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The official 2002 Chilean census found 609,000 Chileans identifying as Mapuches. The same survey determined that 35 percent of the nation's Mapuches think the biggest issue for the government to resolve relates to their ancestral properties. The official 2012 Chilean census found the number of Mapuches in Chile to be 1,508,722.