Chile: Police Special Forces Evict Mapuche Community From Contested Lands

By • Oct 21, 2013


“Welcome to the Temucuicui Autonomous Community” Photo by Donmatas1 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Welcome to the Temucuicui Autonomous Community” Photo by Donmatas1 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In the early morning of Wednesday, October 9, riot police and members of the Group of Special Operations (GOPE in Spanish), an elite, special unit of the Chilean Police, raided the Temucuicui Autonomous Community [es], an indigenous Mapuche community located near the town of Ercilla in the Araucania Region of Southern Chile.A self-denominated “autonomous” community, Temucuicui has occupied what they consider to be ancestral lands for over two years. They have resisted several eviction attempts, and their resistance has landed many community leaders and members in jail.

The land where the community lives is part of what the Mapuche call “Wallmapu”, meaning Mapuche country, where clashes between police forces and Mapuche activists are common. Currently, these lands are contested, but legally owned by landowners Rene Urban, Martin Ruf and the Zeit family. Continue reading

Chile: Indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with protests

October 13, 2013, Al Jazeera

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday.  Luis Hidalgo/AP

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday.  Luis Hidalgo/AP

Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Demonstrators in Santiago threw rocks and other objects at police who responded with water cannons. At least 10 protesters were detained by police, local media reported.

More than 15,000 people participated in the march, organized by the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, who have been in a long struggle with the government over ancestral land taken from them during colonization.

While Columbus Day celebrations took place across Latin America, the Mapuche affirmed, “we have nothing to celebrate”, according to the Santiago Times.

A press release by the group complained of mistreatment by the state, particularly against Mapuche political prisoners, and on-going land disputes in the south. Continue reading

Chile: Mapuche Teens Takeover Town to End “Police Brutality”

A decades-old is heating up as Chilean cities spend their winter under a blanket of protests. Forty teenagers staged a toma, or takeover, in Ercilla.

byKatie Manning
30 August 2011

Photo By: Leyla Noriega Zegarra

A decades-old debate over a 150-year-old conflict is heating up as Chilean cities spend their winter under a blanket of protests. Forty teenagers, part of 700,000 Mapuche Indians out of 17 million people in Chile, staged a toma, or takeover, in Ercilla. The small forest-farming town, 600 kilometers south of Santiago, frequently hosts brawls between the police force and Mapuche.

Since August 19, the 11-to-17-year-olds occupied the town’s government center. They’re not giving it back, they said, until Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter hears out their grievances over the “constant police presence” and a lack of intercultural education.

The clock is ticking according to Camilo Catrilanca, the 16-year-old spokesperson of the toma. “We’re not going anywhere. We haven’t had an answer,” said Catrilanca.

Mayor of Ercilla José Vilugrón said the government won’t resort to violence to break up the students’ toma. He sent a proposal over to La Moneda, Chile’s presidential palace, with recommendations on how resolve the issues. But the local governor, Miguel Mellado, said if they don’t go willingly, he will forcibly remove the students from the building. Continue reading

Mapuche communities in Chile: Not underground, still fighting for their ground

Freedom for all Mapuche Political Prisoners, 2010 march

Upside Down World, October 26, 2010

Jeremy Tarbox

This year Chile celebrated the bicentennial year of its independence, 20 years since the return of elections, and its first transition of power during this democratic regime. These events received worldwide attention, but events underground have dominated international news coverage: the devastating earthquake in February; and the successful efforts to free the miners who were trapped underground since early August.

However, there is another deeper wound in Chile that has not healed, and is on the surface. The miners were trapped underground, but in southern Chile, indigenous Mapuche communities are still fighting for the right to their own ground.

Days before the bicentennial celebrations, the streets of Temuco echoed with shouts of “Free them; free the Mapuche who are fighting back!”. The protest march started outside the jail where many Mapuche were on hunger strike. The setting of the jail is steeped in symbolism. Firstly, it is right below Cerro Ñielol, the hill where the Mapuche signed a treaty with the Chilean Government in 1881 to stop what newspapers of the day called the ‘war of extermination.’ Secondly, a block away is a memorial to the detained (tortured), disappeared and murdered during the Pinochet 1973-90 military dictatorship. Many are Mapuche names: one of the events that precipitated the coup was Salvador Allende’s land reform program to return lands stolen from Mapuche communities. Continue reading

The abuses kept in the shadows of the Chilean miners’ rescue

15 October 2010
John Pilger

The rescue of 33 miners in Chile is an extraordinary drama filled with pathos and heroism. It is also a media windfall for the Chilean government, whose every beneficence is recorded by a forest of cameras. One cannot fail to be impressed. However, like all great media events, it is a facade.

The accident that trapped the miners is not unusual in Chile, but is the inevitable consequence of a ruthless economic system that has barely changed since the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.

Copper is Chile’s gold, and the frequency of mining disasters keeps pace with prices and profits. There are, on average, 39 fatal accidents every year in Chile’s privatised mines. The San Jose mine, where the men work, became so unsafe in 2007 that it had to be closed – but not for long.

On July 30 last, a Labour Department report warned again of “serious safety deficiencies,” but no action was taken. Six days later, the men were entombed.

For all the media circus at the rescue site, contemporary Chile is a country of the unspoken. At Villa Grimaldi, in the suburbs of the capital Santiago, a sign says: “The forgotten past is full of memory.” This was the torture centre where hundreds of people were murdered and disappeared for opposing the fascism that Pinochet and his business allies brought to Chile. Continue reading

Chile: Communique from the last Mapuche hunger strikers

On October 2, most of the Mapuche political prisoners on hungerstrike in the prisons of the Chilean state announced an end to their action while the hungerstrikers at Angol prison declared they would continue. On October 7, they released another communique explaining their struggle. The following day, after nearly 90 days without eating, they ended their hungerstrike, although without signing onto any agreement with the Chilean state.

We consider this communique to be of great importance because it clearly explains how the modifications to the antiterrorist law are simply cosmetic and do not at all guarantee the completion of the demands brought forward by this mobilization. Furthermore, and most importantly, the hungerstrikers of Angol prison want to make it plain that this action did not occur as a partial claim within the juridical realm, but as a projection of the Mapuche struggle.

This is where we see that an action such as this is not a simple pressure brought to bear against the party in power, rather it reveals the substance of what is and must be the struggle by the Mapuche against the State/Capital. A struggle that, through this kind of mobilization, continuously strengthens itself and avoids a fossilization that would prevent it from taking on a larger framework, such as a struggle for self-determination. Continue reading

Mapuches End Hunger Strike after Agreement with Chile Government

October 3,2010

SANTIAGO – Thirty jailed Mapuche Indians ended a long hunger strike – in most cases dating back to July 12 – after reaching an agreement with the government, the archbishop who mediated the talks said.

The news, also confirmed by the spokeswoman for some of the jailed protesters, Natividad Llanquileo, was announced Friday after two extensive meetings between representatives of the Indians and the government – one in Concepcion with the participation of that southern city’s archbishop, Ricardo Ezzati, and another in Temuco with the presence of Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter.

“As is public knowledge, the government has sponsored legal reforms aimed at modifying the so-called ‘anti-terrorist law’ and the act (that allows) trials of civilians by military tribunals,” Ezzati told reporters. Continue reading