Chile’s Mapuche: ‘Our People Are Unstoppable’

Temuco, home to one of Chile’s largest Mapuche communities, has been the site of rising conflict between Indigenous resistance  and police.

Recently-jailed members of Chile’s Indigenous Mapuche community released a statement Saturday celebrating ongoing campaigns against police terror and land privatization.

Slamming the Chilean government, which they claim is “servile to the interests of transnational business,” the incarcerated leaders said police are attacking their people at unprecedented levels.

Despite these attacks, Mapuche  resistance are successfully reclaiming and rebuilding stolen lands.

“Day by day our communities are fighting to rebuild and advance territorially, recovering our lands usurped by the forest industry and the latifundio,” the Mapuche leaders said in the statement.

“This progress is undeniable and our people are unstoppable. New generations have become aware of the need to protect ourselves and have shaken the submission and colonialism that have oppressed our parents and grandparents.”

Temuco, home to one of Chile’s largest Mapuche communities, has been the site of rising conflict between Indigenous  resistance and police. On March 18, violence erupted between both groups during a protest calling on law enforcement to stop violence against their youth.

The protest was organized by the parents of Brandon Hernandez, a 17-year-old Mapuche student who was shot by police last December. Chilean police Sergeant Cristian Rivera shot Brandon in the back with a shotgun, leaving him in critical condition.

Rivera, who was temporarily detained for the incident, has since been released after national prosecutors determined that the shooting was an “accident.” Rivera’s release has reignited protests against Chilean law enforcement.

Mapuche resistance have also ramped up pressure against multinational corporations occupying their ancestral lands.

Last month, the Mapuche Arauco-Malleco Coordination, or CAM, led an arson attack that left 19 trucks burned. The attack, directed at the affluent Trans-Cavalieri transport company in Temuco, resulted in losses of about US$3 million for the business. The CAM also lit nine flatbeds on fire as well as a warehouse on the route that links Temuco with other cities.

The Indigenous resistance claim the attack was made in retaliation to the “capitalist invaders” who don’t respect the territory and the autonomy of the Mapuche.

“In spite of repression, we are not defeated and from here we denounce the reality that is lived in our communities,” Mapuche leaders also said in the statement.

“We are fighting for our freedom and dignified prison conditions.”