Category Archives: Mapuche

The Militarisation of Mapuche Regions in Chile (Op-Ed)

Note: Written by Claudio Fuentes. The original Spanish version of this article appeared in Chilean online newspaper El Mostrador. The original English translation of this article first appeared on the Chileno website.

Militarizing Araucanía: A Bad Idea

Is it advisable to militarise Araucanía? Although the Government has not for the moment invoked any state of emergency, it has taken two steps. A decision was made to restrict the freedom of individuals that began with major police roadblocks and involving the armed forces with intelligence work. Indeed, in addition to an increase in the number of police officers, the President announced that police would establish a “special area of control and security in those places that have been most affected by these crimes, so as to establish permanent control daytime and night, both vehicular traffic and the identities of persons travelling in the most affected areas. ” Continue reading

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Chilean Court Rejects Indigenous Claims to Consultation on Geothermal Projects

Last Friday, November 16th, the Court of Appeals in Santiago struck a blow to indigenous rights when it issued its ruling in three cases brought by indigenous communities and organizations to halt a number of geothermal exploration concessions that were granted without prior consultation. In each instance, the Santiago Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Energy Ministry, which was responsible for granting the concessions earlier this year. Continue reading

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Supreme Court Reverses Two Mapuche Convictions; Hunger Strike Ends After 60 Days

On Wednesday, October 24th, the Chilean Supreme Court unanimously overturned the convictions of two Mapuche men who had been charged with the attempted murder of Chilean police officers. The convictions were overturned on the grounds that evidence was lacking at the lower court level to prove attempted murder. Although the two men were not completely absolved of all crimes, the ruling was well-received and, on Thursday, the men called an end to their hunger strike that had been in progress for 60 days. Continue reading

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Piñera Visits Ercilla, Calls Mapuche Hunger Strike “Illegitimate”

On Tuesday, October 16th, President Piñera visited Ercilla and, more generally, the Araucanía Region of Chile. His visit was met with much protest even before his arrival, when Mapuche leaders told the press that Piñera “would not be welcomed” in the region. Despite these statements, Piñera arrived with a heavy police contingent and gave a speech denouncing Mapuche violence and calling the current Mapuche hunger strike “illegitimate and ineffective”. As expected, the Chilean President was met with many protests and his speech was interrupted at times by them. By the end of the day, at least eight Mapuche individuals had been arrested. Continue reading

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Mapuche Hunger Strikers Reach Day 40; Attorneys Argue in Front of Supreme Court

On Thursday, October 4th, attorneys for four Mapuche prisoners who were sentenced for a variety of alleged crimes, including attempted murder of police officers, went before the criminal chamber of the Chilean Supreme Court. The attorneys argued for a mistrial and dismissal of the convictions based on a lack of evidence. Additionally, arguments were made to apply the American Convention on Civil Rights and the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples to the prisoners’ prison conditions, which could allow them additional prison privileges. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision with respect to these issues on October 24, 2012. Continue reading

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Mapuche Family Occupying Ancestral Land Loses in Chilean Supreme Court

On Tuesday, October 2nd, the Chilean Supreme Court released a decision ordering a Mapuche family in Tirúa to vacate the lands they had been occupying in protest or else the police force would be used to remove them. The lands in question were in the zone of Puerto Choque and are owned by a farmer, José Salazar Romero, who brought the lawsuit to stop the occupation on his land. The Chilean Supreme Court unanimously granted Salazar’s request. Continue reading

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Chilean Government Provides Money to Two Mapuche Communities for Land Purchases in Ercilla

In a press release dated September 27th, CONADI (the Chilean Indigenous development corporation) announced that it had invested 420 million pesos (approximately US$ 885,000) for land purchases in Ercilla. Specifically, the money was given to two Mapuche communities — “Alex Lemun” and “Tricauco 2″ — so that they can purchase lands for their people. In total, twenty-five families will receive lands and CONADI will follow-up with funds to help develop that land as needed. Continue reading

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Chilean Supreme Court Rejects Mapuche Claim to Access a Sacred Site

On Monday, September 24th, the Chilean Supreme Court — in a unanimous decision — rejected the claim of a group of Huilliche people (a sub-group of the Mapuche people) who were trying to gain access to a sacred site. The Supreme Court stated that the land in question was owned by a private individual and, as such, could not be granted the special protection sought by the Huilliche people. Continue reading

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Military Court Reverses Conviction of Police Officer Who Killed a Mapuche Man

On August 12, 2009 a 24-year-old Mapuche man named Jaime Mendoza Collío was shot and killed by Miguel Patricio Jara Muñoz, a Chilean police officer (carabinero). The shooting occurred in the context of a land dispute over traditional Mapuche territory. Within a week, the officer was charged with using unnecessary force that resulted in death, and has defended himself by arguing that the force was justifiable given the circumstances. The courts repeatedly rejected Jara’s claims of self-defense and, after many appeals, Jara was sentenced to five years and one day in prison in November of 2011. On Saturday, August 18th, the Chilean military court system, announced that it was abandoning the earlier conviction on the grounds that Jara’s actions were done in self-defense. Continue reading

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President Piñera Announces Plan to Address Mapuche Issues

At 11 a.m. in Santigao on Friday, August 3rd, President Sebastián Piñera announced actions the government would take to address the challenges faced by the Mapuche people. The announcement allowed Piñera to elaborate on his “Development Plan for the Araucanía Region” or “Plan Araucanía” as it is often referred to. Specifically, Piñera announced an initiative to build a multicultural school in Ercilla, five hospitals throughout the region, and to implement a consultation process that conforms with ILO Convention 169. Continue reading

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