Chile’s shameful night of violence shatters strained relationship with Indigenous communities

Chile protest
Support us and go ad-free

On Saturday 2 August, Mapuche Indigenous community members occupied a council building in Curacuatín, Southern Chile, to protest about the inhumane conditions political prisoners are being subjected to.

That night, an armed group of civilian vigilantes, aided by local police, stormed the building and evicted them. The protesters were badly beaten and detained. The violent incident has been condemned by human rights groups who are urging the UN to investigate. Many are blaming the visit of controversial newly appointed interior minister Victor Pérez for fanning the flames of local tensions when he visited the area several days before the racially motivated violence began.

Criminalising indigenous autonomy

At present, there is a hunger strike in three prisons in Southern Chile, the home of Indigenous Mapuche communities. Machi Celestino Cordoba, leader and healer, is in a critical condition. The prisoners are accused of terrorism under the 1984 Terror Law enacted by brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet. Chile still operates under the Pinochet Constitution, a subject of contention for many Chileans. This law has effectively outlawed the struggle for the autonomy of indigenous peoples to practice their culture and live on ancestral land.

Reynaldo Mariqueo from Bristol Based NGO Mapuche International Link told The Canary:

During the Pinochet regime, landowners would hunt Mapuche leaders aided by the police. Today the same extreme right again aided by the police, under curfew with the consent of minister Varela and other local authorities, violently evicted peacefully protesting Mapuche, shouting racist insults.

The occupying protesters included families of prisoners and were there to highlight the discrimination that Mapuche political prisoners are being subjected to. The prisoners have been on hunger strike for 90 days and are in a critical condition. Most of the prisoners are being held in preventive prison because innocent before being proved guilty does not apply to the Mapuche. They are simply asking for equal treatment as stated in Article 169 of the OIT, as the government remains silent to these just demands.

Hardline Fascism

Under Sebastian Pinera, the Chilean government has been shifting further to the extreme right, illustrated by the controversial appointment last week of Pérez.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Perez formed part of the Pinochet regime serving as mayor and then senator. He visited Pinochet in Virginia Water, Surrey, when he was under arrest for crimes against humanity.

Locals report that within hours of Pérez’s arrival in the region last Saturday, the vigilantes were mobilised. The mayor of Curacautin Jorge Saquel said he was not consulted about the visit and Pérez made no attempt to meet local authorities. Local police were said to have aided the mob.

A series of Mapuche led protests and occupations are expected to persist as unrest continues to rage in Chile’s Araucania.

Featured image via Facebook – Weychan

Support us and go ad-free

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