New protests broke out in Chile’s capital of Santiago to demonstrate against last week’s police killing of the young Mapuche land rights defender Camilo Catrillanca, and to demand the resignation of Interior Minister Andres Chadwick. The Carabinero National Police arrested around 30 demonstrators during the protest.
Late Monday night about 300 people cut off traffic near the presidential palace, La Moneda, in Santiago to demand Chadwick's resignation. They point to the interior minister as responsible for the state killing of Catrillanca, shot by members of the Jungle Command (special anti-terrorist police force) in Temucuicui, in La Araucania region on Nov. 14.
Amandaluna Cea, a leader within the Secondary Student Assembly (ACES) who helped organize the demonstrations told local media: "Today we are with different social organizations that are facing Interior Minister Chadwick, who we know has been the politician most responsible for the murder of Camilo Catrillanca."
Cea said the demonstrators are demanding Chadwick’s resignation and that the Sebastian Peñera administration “stop repressing those who fight for a more just society and for the return of stolen lands," added the activist. Mapuches in Chile and Argentina have historically fought to recover their ancestral lands, stolen since colonial times.
The night of Nov. 14, around 200 members of the Jungle Command entered the small southern Mapuche community to supposedly detain a suspected gang of car thieves. The deployment of a special task force for a common crime raised alarms among human right advocates and the Mapuche people.
Chadwick initially released a statement saying that the Jungle Command was protecting itself from “random shots from various locations, forcing police to take extreme action.”
This was later found to be false and the police who killed Catrillanca were found to have destroyed their body cameras, destroying evidence of the crime. They have since been removed from their functions.
Five others were injured in the police rampage.
The student activist said that Chadwick is also behind Aula Segura (safe classroom), a federal policy that allows the “immediate expulsion” of students who are deemed “terrorists,” saying that the Piñera administration is criminalizing government protestors.
She demanded the withdrawal of the Jungle Command from the Araucania region. "We do not want more repression in our territory, we want them to immediately remove the Jungle Command,” Cea said. She accused the government of “mounting a plot to subject us (students) and to domesticate the Mapuche people,” vowing to resist.
Carabineros tried to repress and disperse demonstrators Monday, throwing tear gas and installing patrol fences around the presidential palace.
Around 100 people held a vigil for Catrillanca, grandson of a local Mapuche leader.
The Regional Office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR), led by the former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, urged the current government to investigate and provide reparations for the murder in a “timely manner.”
The Mapuche are an Indigenous people in South-central Chile and Southwestern Argentina. They make up about nine percent of the Chilean population and have resisted conquest by Spanish colonists until the 19th century when their land was sold to forestry companies and farmers. They have been violently repressed by President Piñera's Jungle Command used to combat "rural violence." The command is reportedly trained by Colombian forces to prevent and respond to “terrorism” in Mapuche areas.