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  • Chileans have been protesting against the murder of a Mapuche man at the hands of police since last week.

    Chileans have been protesting against the murder of a Mapuche man at the hands of police since last week. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 November 2018

Fresh clashes erupted between police and demonstrators demanding justice for murdered Mapuche man Camilo Catrillanca in Chile. 

Chile's police (carabineros) repressed new protests by Chilean students who are demanding Interior Minister Andres Chadwick's resignation over the murder of Camilo Catrillanca, a young Mapuche man. According to students and other movements, Chadwick is the main responsible for the state crime.

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Chile: Top Official of La Araucania Resigns Over Mapuche Murder

On Wednesday, a group of protesters convened by the Student Federation of the University of Chile (FECH) to hold a velaton (candle vigil) in front of the Central House of the University of Chile in Santiago. As some protesters tried to block traffic, the carabineros (police) attacked the demonstrators with water cannon and tear-gas.

That night, during another protest in the city of Concepcion, a 13-year-old girl was hit by pellets fired by carabineros. The girl was participating in a march near the University of Concepcion with her 23-year-old sister when police started firing pellets on the crowd. The following commotion separated the sisters.

Macka Coronado Leiva, another protestor present at the scene, reported the whole incident on her Facebook. According to the post, she and few others took the 13-year-old girl to the emergency room of the Regional Hospital where she received treatment. They also contacted her mother and informed her whereabouts.

Chilean forces have justified the use of excessive and lethal force against Mapuche people by arguing the violence in Mapuche territory is exceptional. "What happens in these regions is not equivalent to other areas of the country –we are facing a special situation that has dragged on for decades," said Rodrigo Ubilla, an interior ministry official, in a press conference Tuesday.

Ubilla also referred to "101 acts of violence" since Catrillanca's murder on Nov. 14.

His murdered stirred the country, revealing police brutality against Chile's originary people, who have survived colonization at the hands of foreign powers and land dispossession at the hands of the Republic. 

Camilo's cousin, who was with him when he was murdered, narrated the events of Nov. 14. They had left their home in Camilo's tractor to buy cilantro because they were preparing lamb. As they returned they saw three policemen and heard a gunshot, which prompted them to change course. They were intercepted again by two more policemen who again opened fire without asking questions.

Camilo was killed in that tractor by bullets shot by the police. "I asked how my cousin was and they answered: who? the one we killed?"

Chile's police force has been criticized for its repression and violence against the Mapuche community. After Catrillanca’s death, people are demanding the dismantling of Jungle Command, the special unit of carabineros trained in Colombian jungles and implemented in territories inhabited by Indigenous communities in Southern Chile.

Mapuche people are considered as the earliest inhabitants of Chile but the most marginalized ones in the present where most of their ancestral lands had been taken away from them.

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