Chile: Indigenous News Briefs for October 4, 2010

Below are links to the various indigenous news stories that were published online in Chile on October 4, 2010.

Mapuche from Angol Prison Continue Hunger Strike

While the majority of the Mapuche political prisoners ended their hunger strike on Friday, October 1st, ten prisoners in Angol are continuing their strike because, in part, the government has not reformed the Antiterrorism Law adequately.  Specifically, they have stated that the reforms and promises made by the government are not adequately clear in terms of their application. The Mapuche prisoners said they are prepared to strike until the end.  You can find out more about the ten individuals here.

The strikers were visited by the Bishop of Temuco, Manuel Camilo Vial, who stated he was there to listen to the prisoners while Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati–the mediator between the Chilean government and the strikers–was temporarily absent.  Later, it was reported that the Archbishop would be meeting with the prisoners, and he did call upon the strikers to continue their dialogue with the government.  A similar sentiment was made by Senator Ignacio Walker (DC), who called upon the Chilean government to keep dialoguing with the Mapuche prisoners.

Meanwhile, the Chilean government announced that it will not be making any additional offers to the Mapuche who are maintaining their strike, and President Piñera asked the remaining prisoners to conclude their strike. In a similar vein, a spokesperson from the National Renewal Party (RN) stated that the government had done its part and urged the prisoners to end their strike.

In support of the hunger strikers in Angol, a 17-year old juvenile prisoner from Chol Chol prison has been hunger striking for 31 days and intends to continue.

We hope to post more on the remaining Mapuche hunger strikers very soon.

Government Begins Reprocessing Terrorist Crimes

On Sunday, the Chilean government began reprocessing the Mapuche prisoners who had been on hunger strike. The reprocessing will move the prisoners from being tried under the Antiterrorism Law, which is part of the military justice system, to being tried under the civilian penal code. This reprocessing was a part of the agreement reached between the Mapuche and the Chilean government on Friday.

Others Respond to the Hunger Strike

The Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, issued a statement acknowledging Chile’s progress with the hunger strikers and their continued dialogue with those individuals still in conflict with the Chilean state.

On the other hand, today, a trucking union in the southern Chile sent a letter to Piñera expressing their concern about the changes to the Antiterrorism Law and detailing the property damage they have experienced in the past and how they believe that will only worsen with the changes.

Piñera Responds to Huilliche Land Claims

As we posted a few days ago, the Huilliche have long-standing claims against lands owned by Piñera, and today, the President responded by stating that there is no legal claim over the land, only a historical claim. He went on to say that despite the land claims, he seeks good relations with all the communities living on the island of Chiloé (where the land in question is located).

Investigation into Possible Irregularities with Indigenous Funds

The former Coordinating Minister of Indigenous Issues, and the former head of CONADI were called into the House of Representatives for alleged misconduct that occurred while they were in their previous positions.

Multicultural Indigenous Housing Committee Meets with Minister of Housing

On Monday, the head of Kaweskar Cuno–a non-profit organization formed through CONADI that brings together Aymara, Diaguitas, Mapuche, Rapa Nui and others–met with the Minister of Housing, Magdalena Matte, to discuss possible solutions to a project that seeks to create a community (and provide houses) for more than 150 families. The organization, formed in 2008, is having trouble getting the necessary approvals and funds in order so that they can build their community.

Yágan Nominated to be Woman of the Bicentennial

Cristina Calderón, the last direct descendant of the Yágan and only known speaker of their language, was nominated as a candidate to become the “Woman of the Bicentennial.” She will compete against 200 other distinguished Chilean women for the honor. More about her life can be found in the link above, or by watching a video placed on La Nacion’s website here.

Rapa Nui Tourism Down; Protests Blamed

Tourism on Easter Island has been down in recent weeks, and many believe the decline is related to the many peaceful protests that have been going on around the island for weeks.

Deputy Calls for Indigenous Political Representation

Deputy Joaquín Tuma (PPD) called for the creation of a new commission that would ultimately lead to genuine representation of ethnic groups in the Chilean Congress.

Atacameño Photography Exhibition Opens

Juan Ignacio Vicente’s photography exhibit opens in Santiago on Tuesday. The exhibition uses photography to investigate the fundamental nature of Atacama culture.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Atacameño, Aymara, Chile, Diaguita, Mapuche, Rapa Nui, Yágan
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