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News > Chile

Chile's Mapuche People Mourn the Death of Camillo Catrillanca

  • Artistic portrait of Camilo Catrillanca.

    Artistic portrait of Camilo Catrillanca. | Photo: Twitter/ @palepea

Published 14 November 2019

The murder of an Indigenous farmer and leader will be commemorated in more than 40 cities.

November 14 will mark the first anniversary of the death of Camilo Catrillanca, an Indigenous man who was shot to dead by a Military Police (Carabinero) officer in La Araucania. Social movements and progressive parties have called for demonstrations in more than 40 cities.


Interior Minister Responsible for Catrillanca Murder

This crime brought a political crisis for President Sebastian Piñera administration because police officers tried to misrepresent the facts so that his murder appeared as if it had been the consequence of fire exchange between the Mapuches and the Police.

Camilo was shot in the neck while he was traveling on a tractor through his community accompanied by a 15-year-old teenager.

His death was recorded on a video camera that one of the police officers had in his helmet. Images showed that, after receiving the mortal shot, Catrillanca remained motionless for several minutes.

However, once the police officers realized that he was still breathing, they tried to take him to a medical center.

Chile's human rights defenders and social activists come together to remember the murder of Camillo Catrillanca, a Mapuche leader and farmer. His father and family are hopeful that justice will be done after one year of their tragedy.

The murderer is Carlos Alarcon, a Special Operations Group (GOPE) sergeant who faces up to 15 years in jail. Besides being accused of homicide, he faces charges for threats against the teenager witness.

The Chilean sergeant alleges he shot Catrillanca because he believed the Indigenous farmer was one of the alleged car thieves who were in the area.

Another defendant is Raul Avila, who faces charges for having destroyed the camera's memory card that recorded the events.

An expert report ordered by the Chilean Public Prosecutor's Office concluded that Catrillanca changed the trajectory of the tractor after observing that an armored car was approaching.

In their first statements, the police officers said they had been ambushed and opened fire in response to the shots they received.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ The Prosecutor's Office, however, dismissed such a version.

Today thousands of Mapuches and Chileans take to the streets to demand justice for the murder of Camilo Catrillanca. Strength for his family and the Temucuicui community. Never again a Mapuche killed by the State!!!

Later Sergeant Alarcon himself admitted that the lawyer Cristian Inostroza, who is also charged in this case, told them that they should deliver a false account of what happened.

Initially, the Military Police high command denied the existence of a video about the incident. A few weeks later, however, the Chilean media leaked images that dismantled the official lie.

Faced with the impossibility of hiding what happened, Police General Director Hermes Soto and Interior Minister Andres Chadwick, who knew that no Mapuche shot at the officers, resigned.​​​​​​​

Since the 19th century, in the Araucania region in southern Chile, Mapuches face the aggression of businessmen who enter their land in search of wood and other natural resources.

Due to the defense of their traditional ways of life, they have been killed, arrested, prosecuted and convicted under the "anti-terrorism" law.

Currently, Mapuches represent about 10 percent of the Chilean population and live in one of the poorest areas of this South American country.

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