Militant Mapuche March in Temuco, Chile

Published April 4, 2019

About 800 people took part in a Mapuche March for the self-determination and demilitarization of La Araucania in Temuco, Chile on April 3. Militants attacked the office of the right-wing newspaper Edificio Diario Austral and a municipal vehicle.

Temuco, a city in central Chile, is where the military garrisons built for the “pacification of the Indigenous people” originated in the 19th century.

Yesterday’s Indigenous march started with some 800 people who tried to move from the city’s downtown to the Intendencia, the regional authority headquarters. A few blocks away from its starting point, however, the mobilization was cracked down on by the ‘Carabineros,’ the Chilean military police. Later, when the protesters tried to continue towards the Intendencia, some violent incidents took place.

Mapuche March

Mapuche March

The Indigenous people’s march was not previously authorized by Miguel Becker, the racist mayor of Temuco.

“Everyone can demonstrate except the Mapuches,” Aucan Huilcaman, the Council of All Lands spokesman, said and commented that the mayor’s attitude is “a racist and discriminatory act.”

The relatives of the Indigenous victims of state violence called on the population to join the protest.

“We do not have to ask for permission because this land belongs to the Mapuche Nation,” explained Marcelo Catrillanca, the father of Camilo, a young farmer who was shot dead by the Carabinero’s Special Police Operations Group (GOPE) in Nov. 14, 2018.

Mapuche March

The Catrillanca case attracted international attention after a Chilean TV station released a video showing the murder carried out by the barbaric GOPE in the Temucuicui community, where the Mapuche activist was working in agricultural chores at the time.

Recorded by an officer who was later prosecuted for murder, the images showed how military police fired several shots at the Mapuche people during a helicopter-backed foot chase. The video also proved that policemen took Camilo out of the tractor where he was while being shot and left him on the ground.

For almost four centuries after the Spanish conquest, the Mapuche people freely inhabited the Araucania, a natural resources-rich region which was shared by Chile and Argentina. In the nineteenth century, however, these countries’ national governments organized military campaigns to occupy this region. As a result, thousands of Mapuches were killed and their descendants were displaced towards reservations.