State Terrorism in Chile against the Mapuche

By Florencia Lagos Neumann on August 3, 2020

Chile is one of the countries with the highest number of infected people with Coronavirus in the region: 2,000 daily, and the world leader in the number of infections per million inhabitants.  In response, the government resorts to the old strategy of diverting attention to another conflict by applying its shock doctrine.

In this case, they are exacerbating a historical problem, the illegal usurpation of Mapuche people’s land. Original people who today resist in spite of suffering brutal repression against them, torture, assassinations and human rights violations.

Human rights are violated in Chile, as corroborated by recent reports from international UN agencies, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In this regard, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), through its twitter account, stated: “The IACHR reminds the State of Chile of its obligations to protect against discrimination based on ethnic origin. It also urges the authorities to prevent, investigate, and punish these acts, and to confront racist narratives against the demands of the Mapuche people.”

In Chile today we are governed by the civilians of the military dictatorship who were never tried.

The recently appointed Minister of the Interior, Victor Perez, a former mayor appointed by Dictator Pinochet, said during his recent visit to Temuco on Friday, July 31: “I am convinced that this can get worse… We are facing groups with military capabilities and funding.”

Then on Sunday, August 2, dozens of “civilians” brutally attacked Mapuches, including women and children, who were in municipalities to demand the release of political prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for more than 91 days, including Machi Celestino Cordoba, who has been in a serious condition for two weeks at the New Imperial Intercultural Hospital.

The Mapuches had entered the municipalities of La Victoria, Curacautín and three other communes in the province of Malleco as a measure of support for their imprisoned comrades.

The mob of “civilians” was specifically summoned by the spokesperson of the right-wing APRA group, Gloria Naveillan, who called for action against community members of the municipality of La Victoria.

The group Asociación para la Paz y la Reconciliación de la Araucanía (APRA) is an ultra-right-wing organization that has direct links to Piñera’s political party, the Unión Demócrata Independiente ( UDI).

The militarized police of the carabineros did nothing to stop or avoid the violence of the “civilians” armed with sticks who also threw stones and set fire to a truck belonging to the Mapuche community.

Then came curious contradictory  statements of the Pinochet Minister of the Interior who said: “We are here working with the police so that they have the capacity to isolate these organized and violent groups and that is what we are going to work on.”

The strategy being implemented by the Piñera government is evident: first, to construct a matrix of opinion that justifies the violent actions of its “civil” apparatus, in this way exempting the repressive forces of the government from responsibility and the fact appears as an expression of “citizenship.”

However, the complicity is evident, if we compare the terror that was unleashed against the peaceful demonstrations held during the public account last Friday where new eye damage was recorded caused by the same repressive forces of the government.

Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine pointed out: “The truth sounds so strange. I’m writing a book about shock. And about countries that suffer from shock: wars, terrorist attacks, coups d’état, and natural disasters. After, how they are again victims of the shock at the hands of companies and politicians who exploit the fear and disorientation resulting from the first shock to implement economic shock therapy”.

The Chilean state cruelly represses the activists in society who rebel against the causes of a structural problem of the system.

And this time it deepens a historical conflict to divert attention from the deep health and especially economic crisis that has accelerated as a result of the pandemic, but that in reality is a consequence of savage capitalism and the economic measures implemented by force to the detriment of the workers in Chile.

Marcelo Catrillanca, father of the murdered Mapuche, Camilo Catrillanca, after listening to a recent speech by Interior Minister Perez, said: “Pacification has been a torture, people continue to be killed, people imprisoned, and I think that the whole country with the discontent for this government continues to demonstrate the same thing we always say, there has to be a structural change, beginning with the president. The social explosion and now with the pandemic, people have said no to the president.”

The elites seek to preserve the economic model that has denigrated the People, through force and the same methods of domination very well learned in the 1970s in the periods of the dictatorships in Latin America, where methods of physical and psychological torture were implemented. Torture, whether physical or psychological, violates the Geneva Convention, which prohibits “Any form of torture or cruelty.”

The UN Human Rights Council stresses “the need to address the issue of gatherings, such as peaceful demonstrations, in order to contribute to their peaceful conduct, to prevent deaths or injuries among demonstrators, bystanders, those responsible for monitoring demonstrations and law enforcement officials, and to prevent any violation or abuse of human rights”. Resolution 22/10. Promotion and protection of human rights in the context of peaceful demonstrations, 2013.

In our country, militarization is increasing every day, and children are attacked in this unleashed repression. Today, it is imperative that international organizations intervene in the face of the growing violence of the Chilean Government towards the Mapuche people and towards Chileans; silence will make them complicit in the massacre.

Source: Crónica Digital, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau