Chile is using war tactics to clear indigenous land for multinational corporations

Mapuche protest
Support us and go ad-free

Chile’s right-wing government is currently using police with training in war tactics to clear indigenous people’s land for multinational corporations to exploit.

“Targeted killing” in southern Chile

Chilean military police Comando Jungla shot and killed an unarmed Mapuche (indigenous) man on 14 November. Camilo Catrillanca was reportedly driving his tractor home from work in southern Chile when authorities shot him in the head. He leaves behind a young child and a pregnant wife.

Human rights and indigenous groups have called the shooting a “targeted killing”. Military police, meanwhile, reportedly arrested and tortured the boy who witnessed the event.

President Sebastián Piñera’s ‘Comando Jungla’ reportedly trained in the Colombian jungle in ‘anti-terror’ warfare (and allegedly in the US too).

Catrillanca is the 15th Mapuche person that the Chilean state has killed during the ‘Mapuche conflict in recent years. He was a student activist and grandson of an important Mapuche elder.

The shooting has since unleashed mass unrest across the country.

Piñera’s racist war

The government officially launched Comando Jungla on 28 June this year to the dismay of the Mapuche community. At its launch, Chilean senator Jaime Quintana said:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Araucania [one of the main regions of the Mapuche conflict] is not Vietnam. Nor is it the Colombian jungle. Instead of arming their police for a war, they should be training them to dialogue with communities.

Piñera tried to deny the existence of Comando Jungla after Catrillanca’s shooting, but the media caught him out. They found and printed signed documents. And this cover-up is just the latest embarrassment for the Piñera administration.

Minister Andrés Chadwick, a hardline Pinochet supporter, claimed that the shooting was an accident. But it has since emerged that officers removed and destroyed footage of the ambush. Neither Piñera nor Chadwick have apologised to the families of the victims. Instead, they went to the region to defend the presence of  Comando Jungla and its use of armoured vehicles, helicopters and drones against Mapuche people, including elderly people and children.

Marcelo Catrillanca, Camilo’s father, told the press:

we are free in our territory and for that reason we are going to stay here. As a family, we are building Camilo’s house, because it was his dream to build a house and live on this land which he had just managed to recover.

Conflict of interests

The Mapuche people are the original inhabitants of the southern regions of Chile and Argentina. They have resisted cultural invasion since Spanish colonialism and continue to strive for their rights.

However, the Chilean government has taken their land and sold it to multinationals and forestry companies. These companies employ the local police to ‘clear the area’ of Mapuche people. Police raids are often violent – with no regard to the safety of women, elderly people and children. They destroy property and homes, and arrest community leaders on false charges.

As Reynaldo Mariqueo from Bristol-based NGO Mapuche International Link comments:

The death of Camilo takes place in the context of the “low intensity war” promoted by the current Chilean president against the Mapuche people; Camilo is one of the many Mapuche youths killed by the police since the return of democracy to the country. The police are rarely punished for their crimes and the Mapuches see it as an occupation force of their territory, while the Chilean justice acts as an accomplice to their crimes, because it rarely delivers justice for the Mapuche. However, the death of Camilo has caused a huge rejection in the country and not only by the Mapuches, but of the common Chilean and the social movements. Demonstrations of condemnation for the murder occurred in the main Chilean cities and also in Europe.’

Since the killing, there has been widespread anger about the ill-treatment of Mapuche communities at the hands of Comando Jungla.

A government at the service of large corporations

Despite widespread condemnation of the shooting, Piñera’s neoliberal government has put the interests of companies like the Angelini Group, Celulosa Arauco, Celulosa Constitución, Forestal Arauco, Inforsa, Masisa, and Compañía Manufacturera de Papeles y Cartones before the interests of the original people of Chile. Minister Chadwick, meanwhile, continues to ignore ever louder calls to remove Comando Jungla from Mapuche territory.

Furthermore, Piñera seeks to modify the indigenous law that grants basic protections by using Pinochet-era anti-terror laws to violently silence the Mapuche people.

Chile’s government is clearly a government which is shamelessly at the service of large corporations. But the Mapuche people will not remain silent.

Featured image via carolonline

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

 

Sign the petition. No more Comando Jungla!

https://www.change.org/p/min-interior-sub-interior-sebastianpinera-iaraucania-gorebiobio-fuera-comando-jungla-de-la-regi%C3%B3n-de-la-araucan%C3%ADa-y-regi%C3%B3n-del-bio-bio

 

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us