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  • One of the Mapuche demonstrations against the militarization of La Araucania in Temuco, Chile, April 3, 2019.

    One of the Mapuche demonstrations against the militarization of La Araucania in Temuco, Chile, April 3, 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @teleSURtv

Published 3 April 2019

The Indigenous peoples demanded the demilitarization of their territories in the Araucania region. 

The Mapuche Nation carried out Wednesday morning a "march for the self-determination and demilitarization of La Araucania" in Temuco, a city in central Chile which originated from military garrisons built for the "pacification of the Indigenous people" in the 19th century.

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Chile: Mapuche Community Call for Marches Against Police Militarization

"We will make use of our right to self-determination, which is enshrined in the 2007 United Nations declaration," the Temucuicui community-based Mapuche movement said and recalled that its activists were severely subjected to heavy crackdown during a peaceful demonstration on March 20.

Today's Indigenous march started with some 800 people who tried to move from the city's downtown to the Intendencia, the regional authority headquarters. A few blocks away from its starting point, however, the mobilization was a crackdown by the 'Carabineros,' the Chilean military police. Later, when the protesters tried to continue towards the Intendencia, some violent incidents took place. 

The Indigenous peoples march was not previously authorized by Miguel Becker, the Temuco mayor who expected that the Mapuches, whom he referred to as "a handful of criminals who destroy the city," stay in "their house."

In Temuco city: "Repression to the Mapuche people."

"Everyone can demonstrate less the Mapuches," Aucan Huilcaman, the Council of All Lands spokesman, said and commented that the mayor's attitude is "a racist and discriminatory act."

The relatives of the Indigenous victims of state violence called on the population to join the protest.

"We do not ask for permission because we are not calling for violence. This is a peaceful demonstration. We do not have to ask for permission because this land belongs to the Mapuche Nation," explained Marcelo Catrillanca, the father of Camilo, a young farmer who was shot dead by the Carabinero's Special Police Operations Group (GOPE) in Nov. 14, 2018.

The Catrillanca case attracted international attention after a Chilean TV station released a video showing the operation carried out by the GOPE at the Temucuicui community, where the Mapuche activist was working in agricultural chores at the time.

Recorded by an officer who was later prosecuted for murder, the images showed how military police fired several shots at the Mapuche people during an helicopter-backed foot chase. The video also proved that policemen took Camilo out of the tractor where he was while being shot and left him on the ground.

For almost four centuries after the Spanish conquest, the Mapuche people freely inhabited the Araucania, a natural resources-rich region which was shared by Chile and Argentina. In the nineteenth century, however, these countries' national governments organized military campaigns to occupy such region. As a result, thousands of Mapuches were killed and their descendants were displaced towards reservations.

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