Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Chile's indigenous Mapuche speak out online

Chileans have been using Twitter to highlight articles from indigenous Mapuche blogs and websites that point to widespread devastation in rural areas since the earthquake on 27 February. Many complain that the desperate situation in indigenous communities has scarcely been mentioned in Chilean media.

On Global Voices , Silvia Vinas has translated Spanish-language blogs and Twitter messages that demonstrate how the indigenous community is making its situation known on the web.

As part of the BBC's SuperPower season - a special series on the internet - we will be teaming up with Global Voices, a non-profit blogging network of citizen journalists, to present a different range of perspectives and commentary from around the world.

The Mapuche people make up about 4% of Chile's population, and live primarily in southern and central rural areas of Chile.

There is a history of racial tension and longstanding political and land disputes between Mapuche activists and Chilean authorities.

Among the websites Ms Vinas links to is Nativos del Sur (Natives from the South), where Reynaldo Mariqueo writes about the lack of media coverage of Mapuche communities.

If we observe the Chilean TV and the media in general, it seems like they are concentrating their accounts of the situation of how it has been affecting the urban regions of Concepcion and to the north, but they have forgotten the towns located south of Concepcion, which we know have suffered an impact similar in destruction. Likewise, the chaotic situation that the rural Mapuche communities are facing, like always, seems to have been completely forgotten.

On the YouTube channel of the website Mapuche Noticias (Mapuche News) there is a video by Pedro Vasquez of destruction in the locality of Tirua in the Arauco Province of the BioBio Region. Uploaded on 7 March, it shows numerous collapsed houses and severely damaged roads and buildings.

Many indigenous voices on the web complain that the Chilean government's aid and reconstruction efforts in Mapuche communities have not been sufficient. One Mapuche news website, MapuExpress , published a statement by a group of Mapuche organisations who say the indigenous community should double its efforts to seek aid from abroad.

More generally, the earthquake has brought social and economic inequalities to the fore in Chile. Also on Global Voices, Felipe Cordero has translated posts from analytic Chilean blogs in Spanish that suggest the outburst of "looting for non-essentials" in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake was an expression of these inequalities.

In one post, Ricardo Carbone , a blogger, professor and director of the Center for Social Reflection and Action at Alberto Hurtado University, says that the quake exposed social problems that are usually hidden behind a facade of stability. He asks:

Can we expect something different in a system that generates segregation and social exclusion? Is it a product of a society that forces competition and to fix things oneself?

In one of more than 30 comments on his post by readers, Alejandra Munoz wrote:

Our bubble burst and the truth hurts. Now we ought to understand it, accept it and work for the reconstruction of our buildings and society. We can forgive, but we cannot forget what has happened, for there will be a next time and it cannot catch us without learning from our errors.

Global Voices has a special coverage page which has been tracking online citizen media in Chile since the earthquake.

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