Today, the region of the Araucania, where the conflict between Mapuche indigenous people, the Chilean state and the private sector unfolds, is the region in Chile with the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and illiteracy. The reasons for this are linked to the political instability and economic distrust generated by the violence between indigenous peasants, Chilean settlers, and the national armed forces. The mass media has also played a role by labeling the Mapuche social protests as terrorism, misinforming the national population and encouraging the continued growth of violence in the region. Economic consortiums that control the forestry industry in the region are the same ones that own the national mass media. This relationship has fueled the conflict, aiming to protect particular economic interests while legitimizing the intervention of the state apparatus against those Mapuche communities that resist territorial occupation.
The roots of this problem, however, are deeper. National and international specialists on the topic coincide that the present conflict in the Araucania is the expression of ongoing colonialism that has favored national development over indigenous rights, all of which has contributed to the escalation of violence in Mapuche territory. The contributors to the current conflict encompass three different levels: historical, political-economic and educational.
In Latin America, intercultural education programs target indigenous communities, aiming to offer indigenous youth the opportunity to integrate into their national societies without losing their culture. Moreover, at present, intercultural education views indigenous cultures as integral elements of modernity and development. The Chilean case has not been the exception. In light of the conflict in the Araucania, intercultural education programs have been promoted in Mapuche communities. Nevertheless, these programs continue to target rural indigenous communities rather than dominant Chilean society.