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News > Chile

Mapuches Plan Protests, New Carabinero Leader In Place

  • Mapuche activists hold a banner:

    Mapuche activists hold a banner: "Chadwick (Interior Minister) Out", during a protest demanding justice for Camilo Catrillanca Santiago, Chile Dec. 20, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 December 2018

Mapuche leaders, including father of slain Camilo Catrillanca say they will protest against government repression and to take back control of their territories.

The Indigenous Mapuche of Chile are planning major protests against the killing of the 24-year-old Camilo Catrillanca, gunned down in his home village of Temucuicui in the Araucaria region in mid-November by Carabinero police forces. Carabinero chief Hermes Soto was replaced by Mario Roza Friday.

Chile's Police Chief Dismissed Over Mapuche Murder

Over 500 Mapuche leaders, including Camilos father, Werken Marcelo Catrillanca, decided in a Saturday meeting in Temucuicui to hold major protests in the region on Dec. 27 and 28 against the assassination and the overall continued government repression of the Mapuche people

At the Mapuche trawun, or assembly, Indigenous leaders viewed the video of Carabinero special police forces shooting and killing Catrillanca on Nov. 14.

The video, just released on Dec. 19, was recorded by the chestcam of Carabinero Petty Officer Patricio Sepulveda, one of the four officers prosecuted for the murder of Catrillanca. It shows how he and other officers fired several shots at people, including Catrillanca, per instructions from superiors in a helicopter flying overhead. The images later show the anti-riot police members holding compresses on the lower part of the victim’s head then leaving him on the ground.

The group also discussed President Sebastian Piñera’s removing Carabineros General Hermes Soto last Thursday. During a televised event the president said: "A small group of police have betrayed their oath, dishonored their institution and caused grave harm to society."

Mapuche members, legislators and activists from around Chile had been demanding that Soto, along with Interior Minister Andres Chadwick step down from their high-ranking posts for the police assassination of Catrillanca and their gross mishandling of the murder investigation.

Minister Chadwick and General Soto were initially silent during the hours after the murder. Chadwick then came out saying that Carabineros shot at Catrillanca in self-defense. He later claimed there was no video recording of the incident.

The suspected officers subsequently said they destroyed video footage from Nov. 14 in an initial testimony to local prosecutors. One of the four accused Carabineros, Carlos Alcaron later told prosecutors that he gave a false testimony to lawyers about the video as directed by his security force superiors. General Soto said Alcaron was an adult capable of making his own decision.

Mario Rozas was appointed Carabinero director Friday. Chadwick , who has testified before Congress and special prosecutors in connection to the case remains in Piñera's cabinet.

The father of the victim told local media at the Saturday assembly that that the demonstration seeks the “demilitarization (of Araucania), recover Mapuche territory, reimplement a Mapuche commission and move towards Mapuche self-determination." Catrillanca also reiterated the need for a special session between the Mapuche and the House of Representative “to establish a dialogue with the institution."

During an interview Sunday Rozas said he’s committed to the country and that policing runs through his veins.

He told the press he “aims to continue to implement prevention and control (in Araucania), but mainly to control crime in the community as much as possible.” Roza added that “there were ommissions” during the Catrillanca investigation under Soto but that he doesn’t want “things like this to happen in the future.”

Mapuches in southern Chile have been demanding the return of their native lands, stolen by loggers and the government decades ago. The Piñera administration has increased Carabinero presence and repression against the Mapuche since taking office last March.

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