On Friday, August 5th, there was another confrontation between the Mapuche people of Temucuicui and the Chilean police (carabineros) in which, it has been reported, at least two Mapuche individuals were injured. The facts of the interaction are very much in dispute at this point in time, but it is clear that the conflict was in relation to the land known as La Romana, which is traditional Mapuche territory, but which is currently owned by René Urban — this land has been the center of much conflict in recent weeks.
According to a statement by the traditional leader (lonko) of the Mapuche Community of Temucuicui, Juan Catrillanca, the village was raided by Chilean police forces who were firing both pellets and bullets. Catrillanca indicated that two people were injured in the police action, but were not taken to hospital for fear of being arrested. According to another leader, Mijael Carbone Queipul, tear gas was also used during the raid.
In response to this event, Carbone urged the international community, human rights organizations and the Chilean society to take action and defend human rights in Chile. He added, “The military police are attacking us with all types of weapons…Here, the Mapuche are practically dodging bullets, running away and hiding in canals, trees and houses as they pursue us. Young people try to protect children and women, but the air is suffocating due to the tear gas fired at us.”
Meanwhile, Chilean government officials have also made statements about what occurred on the afternoon of August 5th, many of which deny what is coming out of the community. Specifically, the Chilean police force admits that there was a confrontation with some Mapuche individuals, but thus far has claimed that there was no raid. Rather, the police statement indicated that the officers were brought into the area in response to a report of twelve masked individuals trespassing on La Romana. The statement also indicated that there was a court order authorizing their actions in this respect.
Furthermore, the Governor of Malleco Province, René Flores, denied that there was any sort of raid on the community of Temucuicui. The Governor said that no police entered the Mapuche community and reiterated that the police were in the area only in response to twelve hooded individuals who were trespassing. The Governor also indicated that he was unaware of any injuries from police actions on Friday.
The recent increase in reports of violence and conflicts in the area have brought human rights organizations to the region in order to ascertain what is occurring on the ground. For example, Pedro Mariman, from the organization Observatorio Ciudadano, traveled to the region and has verified that there are confrontations between Mapuche individuals and the police almost daily, sometimes beginning in the morning and not ending until the night. Likewise, human rights attorney Sebastián Saavedra expressed his concern about the violence in the region and said that a dialogue is needed immediately before there are more casualties.