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News > Chile

Chile: 7 Mapuche Jailed as Indigenous People Reject Land Reform

  • Mapuche demonstrators protest the goverment's plan to allow Indigenous lands to be sold or rented.

    Mapuche demonstrators protest the goverment's plan to allow Indigenous lands to be sold or rented. | Photo: RADIO KVRRUF @RadioKurruf

Published 9 June 2019

According to local media, after the demonstrations ended seven community leaders were arbitrarily arrested by the police.

Indigenous Mapuche Lavkenche communities protested on Saturday in the Chilean central region of the Biobio against the Indigenous Consultation proposed by right-wing President Sebastian Piñera. According to local media, after the demonstrations ended seven community leaders were arbitrarily arrested by the police.

Chile: Indigenous People Reject Piñera’s Consultation

“As doctors trained at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba, we reject the arrest of the physicians Alihuen Antileo Garcia and Yuri Santi, as well as Viviana Llanquileo, Mariely Meñaco, Edith Huenullan, and Isidro Cayupi...These arbitrary arrests made by the investigative police (PDI) occur in the context of the indigenous consultation promoted by the government,” a statement by the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) read. 

On Sunday, three of the detainees were released. The Mapuche leader Antileo without precautionary measures, while Yuri Santi and Isidro Trangolao have to report monthly to court and will be under investigation for alleged assault to police forces. 

During the demonstrations, according to local Radio Kvrruf, a 16-year old girl was punched in the face by a police officer. Her mother, Edith Huenallan, was jailed and also injured when trying to defend her daughter. 

Local media reported the violence against demonstrators and later arrests made by the police. 

This comes as Piñera’s government attempts to modify key aspects of the so-called Indigenous Law, through a voting system known as an Indigenous Consultation. The reforms include 11 measures aimed at installing practices that are contrary to the cultures and worldview of indigenous peoples, reducing their collective rights, and particularly directed to affect article 13 of the law so Mapuche lands can be sold or leased to third parties. 

"As Mapuche Lavkenche leaders of Arauco, specifically of Cañete, we reject the Indigenous consultation because the lands are not to be sold or rented, but to be recovered," a communal statement reads. 

The communities have pointed out the Indigenous consultation is a right of the people, and should be destined in favor of the latter and not as a form of imposition and an attempt to take back hard-won rights.

The Mapuche nation-people have historically defended and resisted colonization in their ancestral lands. However, under the right-wing neoliberal government of Piñera certain rights and historic gains are being pushed back and even on the brink of disappearing. 

“The mislabeled “Mapuche conflict” is nothing more than the attempt of permanent subjection that the neoliberal state makes against the Mapuche nation, using all its political and police power. This has been the excuse used by the different governments since the return to democracy to militarize the Wallmapu [the historic territory that covers most of South America’s southern tip],” the ELAM doctors affirmed. 

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