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  • A riot policeman is helped after clashing with Mapuche Indigenous activists during a protest demanding justice for, in Santiago, Chile Dec. 27, 2018.

    A riot policeman is helped after clashing with Mapuche Indigenous activists during a protest demanding justice for, in Santiago, Chile Dec. 27, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 January 2019
Opinion

Major protests took place Jan. 14 at the two-month anniversary of the killing of Catrillanca. Carabineros deployed water cannons and detained five demonstrators in the Chilean capital Monday.

Chile’s first legislative committee to investigate the Carabinero killing of Mapuche member Camilo Catrillanca met Monday, collectively deciding to question former President Michelle Bachelet about why she increased national police forces in parts of the Araucania region where Catrillanca lived and was gunned down on Nov. 14.

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The proposal was made by House of Representative member Miguel Mellado from President Sebastian Piñera’s right-wing National Renovation party. "We must ask him why he created this security order and also ask the former governor and current legislator (Andrea Parra) what steps were taken to deliver the first uniformed (officers) and the first armored cars" during her presidency, said Mellado to the commission.

Though the measure was supported by the Mapuche and socialist party representative  Emilia Nuyado who lead the questioning of Interior Minister Andres Chadwick in December regarding Catrillanca’s assassination, the Argentine and Chilean militaries have long occupied what many Indigenous Mapuche still refer to as their Arauncia Kingdom that covered much of present-day southern Argentina and Chile, according to Pedro Cayuqueo, author of The Secret Mapuche History as reported by British newspaper the Guardian.

By the mid 1800s Chile’s armies had wiped out 90 percent of the Mapuche within state territory and by 1883 Chilean forces and farmers had taken control of all Mapuche lands and many of the over 1.5 million Mapuche members in the country are still protesting for their return.

However, the history of security force takeovers in the region don’t excuse the current administration’s ramped up Carabinero presence in Arauncia where now at least two Mapuches have been killed, at least one by police forces.

Also expected to testify are former general Hermes Soto who was asked to step down in late December by Piñera as he had been accused of covering up important evidence regarding Catrillanca’s murder so as to protect the Carabinero institution or national police.

The accused Carabineros are also expected to appear before legislators in the coming weeks.

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Catrillanca was shot in the head and killed by Carabineros in an operation near the town of Ercilla, in the Araucania region on Nov. 14.

Carabineros Soto and Chadwick originally said the police acted in self-defense against Catrillanca but state investigators found that story to be false.

Twenty-four-year-old Catrillanca was unarmed and driving a tractor with a younger cousin when he was shot. The police had also said there was no footage of the events, which was also untrue. A Congressional coalition has already asked President Piñera to demand Chadwick’s resignation in light of the case saying the minister is guilty of “government negligence.”

Interior Minister Chadwick along with Undersecretary of the Interior, Rodrigo Ubilla, former Araucania governor Luis Mayol and the current governor Jorge Atton are scheduled to go before the commission in April.

Major protests took place Jan. 14 in front of the presidential palace in Santiago at the two month anniversary of the state killing of Catrillanca. Carabineros deployed water cannons and detained five demonstrators in the Chilean capital on Monday, according to Ruptly.

Mapuche leader and the victim’s father and grandfather, Marcelo and Juan Catrillanca will testify to the commission on Monday, Jan. 21.

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