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News > Latin America

Mapuche Leaders: 'President Piñera Is A Pinochet'

  • A demonstrator holds up an image of Camilo Catrillanca, an indigenous Mapuche man who was shot and killed by police in his town of Temucuicui. Santiago, Chile, November 22, 2018.

    A demonstrator holds up an image of Camilo Catrillanca, an indigenous Mapuche man who was shot and killed by police in his town of Temucuicui. Santiago, Chile, November 22, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 November 2018

Mapuche Indigenous leaders in Chile say they may dialogue with the government given certain conditions, but guarantee a month of 'rebellious' protest.

Indigenous Mapuche leaders from Chile are acting in solidarity with the family of the slain community member Camilo Catrillanca, accusing billionaire and current President Sebastian Piñera of being a "Pinochet", the country’s former military dictator leader.

Mapuche Nation Gathers for Funeral of Slain Indigenous Man

Several Mapuche, or Indigenous community leaders, among them Marcelo Catrillanca, father of 24-year-old Camilo who was shot and killed by national police forces on Nov. 14, met in Temucuicui de Ercilla to announce a month of protests against the state murder and possible dialogues with the government if certain conditions are met.

Werken Carmela Paine from the Alto Bio Bio region in southern Chile questioned Piñera’s proposal for dialogue: “What is the dialogue that he (Piñera) wants to have if he is the one who can conduct mass repression.” The Indigenous leader, who has also taken on the country’s ministry of energy to stop mining in Native territories added: “He is bad, he is a Pinochet. Do not threaten us,” she told the president.

Council of All Lands spokesperson, Aucan Huilcaman, said the Indigenous authorities we meet on Dec. 1 in Temucuicui with Indigenous representatives from all over Chile to decide on a course of action. Werken Jorge Huenchullan said that the communities declared themselves in a state of "rebellion" for one month.

On Saturday Huilcaman and the others conditioned the government dialogues on the administration’s removal of the Jungle Command police force that opened fire on the Temucuicui community over a week ago, murdering the young Catrillanca and injuring five others. The Mapuche are also demanding the removal of Interior Minister Andres Chadwick and the national police force (carabinero) general director Hermes Soto.

Chile Admits Cover-up of Police Killing Video of Mapuche Leader

Werken Efrain Antriao said the state should take responsibility for Catrillanca’s death and award reparations to his family.

Piñera announced on Friday he wanted to "establish and foster a climate of dialogue, collaboration, goodwill and to promote ... greater economic and social development of the region of La Araucania,” where Catrillanca lived and was killed.

President Piñera visited the Araucania region to support the carabineros, stressing that the Jungle Command will remain in Mapuche territory. "The special operations group will continue because the presence of Carabineros is needed," he said.

President Piñera's role in Catrillanca's murder has been raised as the head of state is depicting the Mapuche as "terrorists" as the Indigenous community tries to recover stolen ancestral lands, strengthening dictatorship-era anti-terrorism legislation that is being used to prosecute Mapuche activists. His national approval rating fell by three points this week to 38 percent, according to CADEM.

"We will persecute, with all the force and rigor of the rule of law, those violent and terrorists who want to impose their ideas by force and are unwilling to subject themselves to the game and rule of democracy," Piñera warned in his address.

Camilo's father said Piñera's visit "adds more fuel to the fire."

Minister Chadwick initially said that the Jungle Command members accused of killing Camilo were protecting themselves from “random shots from various locations, forcing police to take extreme action.” This was later found to be false and the Command members involved in the killing confessed to having destroyed their body cameras, and evidence along with them.

Continual demonstrations have been taking place in Santiago since the murder against the government’s excessive use of force against Indigenous and Piñera’s policy of criminalizing protests across the country. Also according to CADEM, 44 percent of the population blames the government for the increased conflict with the Mapuche and 63 percent say that the deployment of special forces in the region is unjustified.

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