On Thursday, September 22nd, there was an incident that resulted in a 13-year-old Mapuche boy being shot in the arm and thigh near Ercilla. The shooting took place on or near land legally-owned by Leandro Seitz Muñoz. The land, however, is also traditional Mapuche territory and has been at the center of much conflict. This is only the latest in a number of recent incidents in Ercilla, which included the shooting of another juvenile in July.
The specifics of the event are somewhat contested. According to Mapuche community leaders, the juvenile was herding animals near the land when an exchange of words took place. Although Seitz’s property in question is guarded by police officers, the community leaders indicated that Seitz himself pulled the trigger. This allegation has been denied by Seitz who responded by saying, “I have not fired a single shot,” and indicating that the police could verify that claim.
Regardless of the order of events, the juvenile was shot and, ultimately, taken to the hospital in Ercilla. The hospital reported the boy’s injuries as “minor,” although a spokesperson from the Mapuche Territorial Alliance expressed anger at the diagnosis and alleged that the hospital wasn’t taking the injuries seriously enough. The Mapuche Territorial Alliance also condemned the attack.
Thursday’s events continue a pattern of increased tensions and violence that have been present in the area and communities near Ercilla. In the past several months, there have been protests and multiple shootings — including shootings of juveniles and police officers.