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News > Latin America

Chile: Mapuche Call For Machi Cordova's 48-Hour Prison Release

  • Mapuche communities march in Temuco in support of the imprisoned Machi Celestino Cordova on June 20, 2018.

    Mapuche communities march in Temuco in support of the imprisoned Machi Celestino Cordova on June 20, 2018. | Photo: Twitter @info_werken

Published 21 June 2018

The Mapuche spiritual leader is asking for a 48-hour release from prison to carry out a spiritual renewal ceremony in his community of origin.

Clans and communities from Wallmapu took to the streets of Temucho in support of Celestino Cordova, a Mapuche Machi spiritual and community authority seeking permission to leave prison for 48 hours to attend a ceremony in his place of origin and renew his Rewe, part of a traditional medical treatment.


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Cordova has spent more than 20 days on a second hunger strike to demand his temporary release, but authorities have denied his requests. He suspended his first strike after 102 days, suffering serious health issues.

The protests was organized by several Mapuche groups. Mijael Carbone Queipul, the Werken (a Mapuche councilor and spokesperson) of Temucuicui, told Aukin: "After this protest, the authorities will have a very clear message. 

"We know marches are not very viable, but we keep showing our presence in the cities, aiming at the people more than at the state.

"The communities must take a decision and that is to mobilize. Each territory knows how to do it."

Protesters met at Temuco Hospital and marched to the government headquarters, where leaders confirmed that the mobilizations in support of Celestino Cordova will continue until authorities meet his demands.

Hugo Painiqueo, the Werken of Budi lake, said: "This mobilization is to give strength and stand in solidarity with our Machi Celestino, one of our peoples' most authentic authorities. The call is to every peñi ('brother') and lamuen ('sister') of the Wallmapu to unite and support the Machi.

"This winka ('White Spaniard') society wants to destroy us, but with unity we will achieve our rights. Today is the turn for the peño Celestino, who is on hunger strike; tomorrow could be another one."

"Half a hundred Mapuche from different communities of the Wallmapu marched this morning on the streets of Temuco in support of the Machi Celestino Cordova, who is 21 days on his second hunger strike demanding permission to visit his rewe for 48 hours."

People close to Cordova have said his health is deteriorating, with muscle and bone pain and his organs beginning to fail.

Organizers have invited supporters to gather on the Ñielol mountain on Friday, where they will hold a llellipun – a spiritual thanksgiving ceremony – in support of the Machi.

Every Machi – the main spiritual, health and political authority of the Mapuche communities – has to renovate the Rewe along with the community in order to renovate their own energy. A Rewe is a sort of spiritual pole at Mapuche communities, the center of their spiritual activities that accomplishes a fundamental role in their society.

Cordova was sentenced for the death of businessman Werner Luchsinger and his wife, Vivianne Mackay, in a 2013 fire at their home in Vicuña, in the Araucania region.

During the trial, prosecutors said "hooded men" entered the couple's property, spreading pamphlets on the death anniversary of a young Mapuche activist who was shot in the back by police, close to where Luchsinger and MacKay lived.

According to the record, Luchsinger fired a gunshot at one of the trespassers and the men set fire to his home, killing the couple inside. Cordova was arrested that night covered in mud and with a gun wound to his hand. He denies any wrongdoing.

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