On the afternoon of Friday, August 19th, approximately twenty-five Mapuche youths began peacefully occupying the municipal building in Ercilla. The occupation has continued through the weekend and into today (August 22nd), and is a direct response to the increased violence in the area over the past few weeks. The occupation has disrupted some municipal services, but there have been no confrontations reported related to the protest. The Mapuche youths have publicly denounced the violence in their community and have stated that they will not leave until the Chilean government commits to demilitarizing the area and ending the police abuses.
The Mapuche youth made the decision to take over the government building on Friday. In total, more than two dozen youths — ages 11 to 17 — surrounded the building with signs that say things like “No More Militarization of the Mapuche People.” There has been no violence and since the initial occupation, the juveniles have released a public statement condemning the recent violence and abuses in their community while expressing their support of the traditional Mapuche leaders.
In response, the Governor of Malleco, José Flores, has indicated that if the juveniles are to be removed, it must be a decision made by the local alcalde, José Vilugrón, because it is a local issue. For his part, Vilugrón has publicly asked for people in the community to be patient and understanding as services are affected, and has stated that he will not order the police to evict the Mapuche individuals. He has also indicated that the government is working to arrange a meeting between the youth and Secretary Hintzpeter so that the issues raised can be properly addressed.