On Thursday, December 8th, another incident occurred between police officers and the Mapuche community in Temucuicui (in the comuna of Ercilla). As with other incidents, the facts of what happened vary heavily depending on whether the statement is coming from the police forces or from the community members. What is clear is that police forces — including a helicopter — entered into the Mapuche community and began raiding the area. According to several Mapuche, there were dozens of officers present (one report said approximately 300 officers in total), tear gas was used, and no reason was given for the raid. The police, on the other hand, claim that they sent three officers and a helicopter and were trying to locate missing livestock.
Now that several days have passed since the police raids occurred, a few facts have come out that may explain why the police were in the area in the first place. According to reports, the police action took place shortly after a report came in that 26 animals had been stolen from a farm in the town of Victoria. Those animals were allegedly stolen from José Galilea Widmer, who is the father of Chile’s Minister of Agriculture. It was in response to these alleged crimes that the police entered Temucuicui.
The Chilean police officers arrived in the community around 7 p.m. local time and began coordinated raids. According to police, these raids consisted of a helicopter and three officers. According to Mapuche community members, dozens of officers came into the area including two buses, a helicopter, five private vehicles as well as tear gas cannons. Multiple reports from Mapuche individuals emphasized that tear gas was heavily used throughout the community.
Moreover, the Mapuche members indicated that they were given no reason by the officers for what was happening. The official police response did not dispute this, but did indicate that all raids were conducted with a legal order from the prosecutor.
In addition to the disputed facts above, multiple reports came out about a thirteen-year-old boy who was arrested during the incident. By all accounts the juvenile was later released, but as with other aspects of the operation the police would neither confirm nor deny that anyone was detained during the raids.
In response to the raids there was great outcry from the Mapuche community, who denounced the excessive force used by the police officers. Specifically, the Mapuche Territorial Alliance condemned the acts and called on both Chilean and international bodies to reject the human rights violations taking place in the Araucanía region. Additionally, Jorge Calcuqueo, a spokesperson for the community, said that bringing attention to the events is necessary for change to occur: “It is necessary that the public understands what is really going on here because the media does little to report it.”
Finally, on top of the raids that occurred on Thursday evening, it appears that the police also entered the Mapuche community of Queipul Ignacio earlier in the day (on December 8th). However, at the time of this writing, little information on that incident is available.