Chile: Lies, dam lies and a Mapuche activist murdered

Freedom News 

It has taken nearly a year-and-a-half of fighting the authorities, and a second autopsy, to confirm what the family of Macarena Valdés Muñoz already knew – she was hanged after her death. There was no suicide. 

On the afternoon of Monday August 22nd, 2016 Macarena, a Mapuche environmental activist fighting against the construction of a mini-hydroelectric dam near and over her property in Newen-Tranguil, near Liquine, Los Rios, was found hanged in her home aged 32. A noose was round her neck and for the coroner the situation was obvious: “Death by suffocation and hanging” – a suicide with a technical explanation that baffled her family.

What had actually happened however was murder. A doctor was first to explain to loved ones that key factors for a suicide had not happened. Her cervical vertebra hadn’t been broken, and it was clear, explained her father-in-law, Mapuche political leader Marcelino Collío, she had been killed. Most likely, it had happened in front of her one-year-old child who was with her at the time.

But it wouldn’t be until January 19th 2018, with the trail long cold, that they would have their suspicions confirmed by a government department in a statement that acknowledged Macarena could not have killed herself. She had instead been killed and then hanged to simulate suicide,

Last week, following the second report, the family and supporters from the Health For All Movement made a number of demands of the authorities, who they suspect of effective collusion in what amounts to a racist strong-arming of the Mapuche community in Tranguil to force them to accept damaging mini-hydroelectric dams across the regional river network. They called for:

  • A new statement of intent on the part of authorities and agencies involved in the investigation of Macarena’s death
  • The the results of both autopsies be clarified to show why the first was inaccurate
  • That resources be provided to investigate the murder fully and bring the killers to justice

They added:

We denounce the violence and permanent intimidation suffered by the community of Tranguil, exercised by the State and the hydroelectric companies interested in extracting the riches of the territory, at the expense of the destruction of the natural and cultural heritage of the town.

Through our history in Latin America we know that this crime corresponds to the way in which, both state policies and business groups, repress through terror and silencing the dissidence and diversity of peoples.

There were strong reasons for the suspicions of Macarena’s family and community, which have repeatedly clashed with both the government and hydroelectric companies over the future of development in and around Tranguil, in the mountains of Los Rios.

 

Fighter for justice

Macarena, a long-time solid supporter of Mapuche resistance networks, had always said that before she grew old she wanted to escape the big city of Santiago and head south, where there was a project she and her partner wanted to work on. Around four years ago they had done just that, upping sticks and heading to Liquiñe with her three young children to live in the Newen-Tranguil community, named for the Tranquil River which flows through the mountains.

The couple were married in a traditional Mapuche ceremony, and soon found they were set for a fourth child. They hoped that their skills would come in useful for the community – she specialised in food preservation while her partner Rubén was an environmental engineer.

They were motivated community activists, and between them they spent time passing on information to locals, including finding ways to allow seasonal crops to provide food all year round. Friends Macarena had left behind in Santiago would have preferred her near, but were heartened when she told them how happy she was with the new direction her life in the south had taken. Her mother and sisters gave thanks “because she was happy there.”

The family’s joy was to be shattered within months.

RP Global’s ‘intense’ relationship

Austrian renewable energy firm RP Global was originally founded as an offshoot of what is now Austrian banking giant Erste, though it has since gone private, involving and run by primarily Austrian, Spanish and Chilean capitalists. In 1991, it bought out assets from a Portugese firm giving it major stakes in wind and hydro projects in Portugal, Georgia, Peru and Chile.

Its corporate blurb is typically bland stuff. The “mini” hydro project at Tranguil would produce energy for 10,000 homes, the firm firm bragged, emphasising the project’s “minimised visual impact” and “intense relationship with residents of the sector.”

Intense is certainly one word for it. Residents have been up in arms since the project got underway in 2012 and clashes escalated in 2015 when the firm broke ground for the plant. Among other things, the firm has been accused of destroying local graves when it bulldozed through a cemetery, a total lack of consultation about the installation of a “central pass,” a failure to undertake basic environmental impact studies and of violations of Mapuche community lands in contravention of ILO Convention 169 (which Chile is signed up to).

The three megawatt plant was, for the firm, a relatively small project in the grand scheme, but with potential threats to water distribution, unknown environmental impacts, potential groundwater pollution and a disregard for Mapuche rights, it sparked a major community kickback which Rubén’s work was particularly useful in combating.

He soon began giving advice to local communities, explaining the technical arguments they needed to make, applying to the Environmental Superintendent, and organising for concrete actions, which would eventually include lawsuits, petitions, street protests and blockades.

The firm and local government chiefs were rattled by the campaign, struggling to find funding after the initial building works and responding, according to activists, with widespread violence and arrests occurring before Banco BICE eventually stepped forward in July 2016 to offer a final tranche of funding.

Confirmation of the cash seemingly locked in resources to crush opposition, but local people refused to be deterred, including Macarena herself, who was involved in direct action against the dam.

On August 1st 2016 Macarena spent the whole day at a road blockade set up by the community to ensure that the company did not install high voltage cables. The action lasted from early in the morning until 4pm, when finally the Valdivia governor Patricia Morano Büchner committed herself to a public meeting and review of the situation, ordering that RP Global withdraw. The meeting was held on August 19th, but the governor vacillated and extended the review deadline to conduct an audit.

It was in this environment on Sunday, August 21st that a vehicle with logo and driver from the company RP Global arrived in the territory. In it were two men, Edgardo Jaramillo and Juan Luengo, who according to witnesses demanded that Monica Painemilla, owner of the land where the Valdés family lived, evict them. When she refused Jaramillo and Luengo are said to have replied that something very bad could happen if they insisted on staying. The next day Macarena turned up dead.

On the Tuesday Monica tried to file a complaint about the weekend’s threats, which she said had been made on behalf of Global PR, but the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI), refused to take action, saying she was not Macarena’s family. That same afternoon, as Ruben was away dealing with the aftermath of his wife’s death, RP Global staff returned to resume construction work on high voltage piping, escorted by members of Chilean national police special forces unit GOPE in armored vehicles under the supervision of Lieutenant Francisco Sánchez.

The people of the community put up resistance, now with more anger and grief than before, there were pushes and police violence. At one o’clock in the afternoon the Interior again gave the order that RP Global withdraw from the land.

On October 13th however the company returned, this time with special forces, more than 50 uniformed officers, police cars and APVs, and managed to install the high voltage cables violating all laws and political agreements with the authorities.

The dam, one of eight to be set up along the river network, is now fully operational producing around 3MW of power – the equivalent of a large diesel generator. The Valdés family is broken, and asks only for the powers that be to deliver something resembling justice for Macarena.

 

Continue reading “Chile: Lies, dam lies and a Mapuche activist murdered”

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PRESS RELEASE – We Won’t Forget the Quebec Mosque Shooting! Stop Hatred Now

 

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—25 January 2018

“Communities Across Toronto Stand With Muslim Community

and Resist Fascist Violence”

Toronto, Ontario—Across Turtle Island, people mobilized and gathered in acts of remembrance for those during the Quebec City Mosque Shooting and in solidarity with the Muslim community.

A year ago, in Toronto, vigils and rallies were held after the Québec City mosque shooting in local expressions of mourning and defiance. Today, we continue to show our love and support to the families of Ibrahima Barry, Mama our Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane. The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu (WCCC), members of Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere (SAFE) refuses to let their murders be forgotten and stands with our Muslim comrades!

“The troubling rise in Islamophobia in has reached its peak in Canada. These events remind us that racialized bodies in Canada are marked not only as ‘dangerous’ but ‘expendable’! We must vehemently refuse to stand by and let the murders of the victims of the Quebec Mosque be relegated to the margins of ‘collateral damage!’”, says Safia Gahayr, former President for CUPE 3907.

We also must acknowledge that this act of colonial violence towards our Muslim comrades is not an isolated occurrence. We resist the forces of colonial power from the rise of far right political forces across the globe to Islamophobic and colonial white supremacist violence throughout our own city to the plight of indigenous communities on Turtle Island and Abya Yala. This racist brutality occurs everyday across the city of Toronto and we must turn our grief and rage towards action to build mutual solidarity in our communities in resistance.

As indigenous peoples, we have always been the first to experience the brutality of colonial racism. It is this ideology of plunder that led to the development fascism and white supremacy, and we feel it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with the victims of this violence”, says Lydia Colihue, member of SAFE and Vice-Head of the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu.

To keep up to date on SAFE actions and events, please see: facebook.com/solidarityagainstfascismeverywhere

For more information on the WCCC and Mapuche resistance, please see: wccctoronto.wordpress.com

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Media Contact:

Lydia Colihue, SAFE Rep. for the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu.

Email: wccc_98@hotmail.com

3 of 4 Mapuche Political Prisoners End 116 Day Hunger Strike – ARIEL TRAGOL continues fast

3 of 4 Mapuche Political Prisoners End 116 Day Hunger Strike – ARIEL TRAGOL continues fast

Oct 2nd, 2017 – On Friday, September 29th, family members of Mapuche Political Prisoners on hunger strike gathered at the Chilean Presidential palace to put forward the demands of their relatives, many of whom were nearing their deathbeds after fasting for 115 days.  The meeting  took place two days after the Chilean College of Doctors, who had been monitoring the health of the hunger strikers, publicly stated all were in serious condition, and that specifically Lonko [Chief] Alfredo Tralcal and Benito Trangol had just 48-hours to live if the fast were to continue.

During the meeting, the Chilean government finally accepted several concessions in dealing with the Mapuche Political Prisoners, including taking actions on revoking the condition of pre-trail detention, as well as DROPPING ANTI-TERROR charges IN EXCHANGE for other charges in Chilean the criminal code. These government concessions would be made upon the condition that the Mapuche prisoners stop their ongoing hunger strike in order to uphold “social peace.”

Continue reading “3 of 4 Mapuche Political Prisoners End 116 Day Hunger Strike – ARIEL TRAGOL continues fast”

For the Life and Freedom of Mapuche Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike: ONTO THE STREETS! 114 Days & Ongoing

For the Life and Freedom of Mapuche Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike: ONTO THE STREETS! 114 Days & Ongoing

 

September 28th, 2017

Our brothers in prison lie between life and death, 114 days into their hunger strike, due to the insensitivity of the racist Chilean government of Michelle Bachelet. Lonko [Chief] Alfredo Traical Coche and brothers Ariel, Benito and Pablo Trangol Galindo, are accused of a political-judicial set-up known colloquially as the “Church Case,” which was planned by the fascist Right and oligarchy currently residing in Wallmapu. This ruling class has taken over our territories through the political, cultural and territorial plunder of our peoples over the last 130 years.

Today when our people organize and demand their legitimate rights in the reclamation of their territories, they are brutally repressed by the same authorities that have signed international treaties to respect indigenous rights. These are the same authorities, who just a few weeks ago hypocritically issued a State apology to the Mapuche people for all the harm they have caused over 100 years of oppression.

Continue reading “For the Life and Freedom of Mapuche Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike: ONTO THE STREETS! 114 Days & Ongoing”

Day 114: Toronto Rallies in Support of Mapuche Hunger Strikers – More than 40 Orgs Worldwide Support Mapuche Mobilization

Day 114: Toronto Rallies in Support of Mapuche Hunger Strikers – More than 40 Orgs Worldwide Support Mapuche Mobilization

 

September 28th, 2017

See WCCC Statement of International Solidarity here.

TORONTO – On Thursday September 28th, the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu  (WCCC) rallied along with supporters in solidarity with Mapuche Political Prisoners on a 114 Day hunger strike in front of the Toronto Chilean Consulate, calling for a Day of International Solidarity in support of the Mapuche. Despite the short notice for the urgent call to action, more than 40 organizations throughout the world joined this call to solidarity, demanding that the Chilean state and its government in turn adhere to the demands made by the Mapuche Political Prisoners. These include a variety of organizations across Europe, as well as local anti-colonial groups and indigenous collectives across Turtle Island, most notably our sisters and brothers of the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society and Ground Zero INAC Toronto – Vigil for Indigenous Youth Suicides. The boisterous protest interrupted rush hour in the busy downtown intersection, denouncing the colonial genocidal policies of the Chilean government against the Mapuche nation that could be heard all the way up to the 18th floor, where the Consulate office is located.

Continue reading “Day 114: Toronto Rallies in Support of Mapuche Hunger Strikers – More than 40 Orgs Worldwide Support Mapuche Mobilization”

Toronto Sale a la Calle en Apoyo a los PPM – Mas de 40 Organizaciones Mundiales Apoyan Movilización de los Huelguistas

Mapuche protest sept 28 2017 2

Toronto Sale a la Calle en Apoyo a los PPM – Mas de 40 Organizaciones Mundiales Apoyan Movilización de los Huelguistas

TORONTO – Hoy en la tarde del 28 de septiembre, la Coordinadora por un Wallmapu Libre (WCCC) salió a la calle en apoyo a los PPM del caso iglesias en 114 días de huelga de hambre, en el frontis del Consulado Chileno en Toronto, llamando también un Dia de Solidaridad Internacional en apoyo a los huelguistas. A pesar del corto plazo de la movilización de carácter urgente, más de 40 organizaciones a través del mundo cogieron el llamado de solidaridad, exigiendo que el estado chileno y su gobierno de turno acoja las demandas de los PPM, incluyendo organizaciones de Francia, Italia, y grupos anticoloniales e indígenas a través de todo “Canada.” La protesta bulliciosa interrumpió con la hora punta de los Torontianos, denunciando las pólizas colonialistas y genocidas del estado Chileno en contra del pueblo Mapuche, haciendo sentir sus voces hasta el piso 18, donde se encuentra el Consulado.

Entre los invitados especiales, la representante internacionale del Pueblo de Catalunya, Ana Iraultza, junto con la represéntate de la organización Palestina, Actions4Palestine, manifestaron su solidaridad con los huelguistas y con el Pueblo Nación Mapuche, conectando las luchas anticolonialistas, antifascistas, y anticapitalistas que se están dando a través de todo el mundo.

Continue reading “Toronto Sale a la Calle en Apoyo a los PPM – Mas de 40 Organizaciones Mundiales Apoyan Movilización de los Huelguistas”

POR LA VIDA Y LIBERTAD DE LOS PRESOS POLITICOS MAPUCHE EN MAS DE 114 DIAS DE HUELGA DE HAMBRE

POR LA VIDA Y LIBERTAD DE LOS PRESOS POLITICOS MAPUCHE EN MAS DE 114 DIAS DE HUELGA DE HAMBRE

SEPTIEMBRE 28th, 2017 – DIA INTERNACIONAL DE ACCION Y SOLIDARIDAD

Mapuche pic 1

En más de 114 días de Huelga de Hambre en Wallmapu, mal llamado Sur de Chile, y ante la insensibilidad del gobierno racista de Michel Bachelet, se debaten entre la vida y la muerte cuatro comuneros Mapuche: el Lonko Alfredo Traical Coche y los hermanos Ariel, Benito y Pablo Trangol Galindo, acusados por intermedio de un montaje político-jurídico policial,  conocido como “El Caso Iglesias” planificado por la derecha fascista y oligarca que reside en el Wallmapu, desde que a través del despojo, político, ideológico, cultural y territorial se adueñaron de nuestros territorios hace más de 130 años.

Hoy cuando nuestro pueblo se organiza, y reivindica su derecho legítimo de recuperación de sus territorios, según los tratados internacionales, a los que Chile se ha adherido, es brutalmente reprimido por las mismas autoridades, que hipócritamente hace solo unas semanas, pedían perdón al pueblo Mapuche por todo el daño causado en más de cien años de opresión.

Continue reading “POR LA VIDA Y LIBERTAD DE LOS PRESOS POLITICOS MAPUCHE EN MAS DE 114 DIAS DE HUELGA DE HAMBRE”

Toronto Emergency Rally: Support the Mapuche Hunger Strike!

TORONTO EMERGENCY RALLY in Solidarity with Mapuche Political Prisoners 100+ Days on Hunger Strike!

PPM graphic

Call for Action: International Day of Solidarity with Mapuche Hunger Strikers!

If your group would like to endorse the Toronto rally or join the call to action IN YOUR CITY, please email: wccc_98 [at] hotmail.com

FB event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2056943371206767

THURSDAY, SEPT 28th @ 5PM | 2 Bloor Street W

Speakers include:

Ana Iraultza – Directly from Catalunia –  on the ongoing repression of the Spanish government on Catalunian Independence

Representative[s] from Actions4Palestine 

Called for by the Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu [Toronto]

See full list of endorsers at the bottom: Continue reading “Toronto Emergency Rally: Support the Mapuche Hunger Strike!”

Eight Mapuche Movement Leaders Arrested in “Operation Hurricane,” amidst Mapuche Hunger Strike

detencion

Eight Mapuche Movement Leaders Arrested in “Operation Hurricane,” amidst Mapuche Hunger Strike

Special Police Forces continue brutalization of Mapuche resistance in outrageous criminalizing spectacle during the ongoing Mapuche Hunger Strike.

September 23rd, 2017

WALLMAPU – This past Saturday, a series of violent raids and arrests against Mapuche movement leaders – dubbed “Operation Hurricane” by Chilean authorities – were carried out by Special Police Forces (PDI) throughout the regions of Bio-Bio, Arauco and Los Rios in southern Chile.

Among the arrested was the spokesman for the Arauco Malleco Coordinator for Communities in Conflict (CAM), Hector Llaitul, as well as his son Ernesto Llaitul, Jaime and Rodrigo Huenchullan, Martin Curiche, Claudio Leiva, Fidel Tranamil, and David Cid Aedo – ex-militant of the Leftist Revolutionary Movement (MIR).

Hector’s residence in the city of Concepcion was raided in the early morning hours, as reported by several local news sources. Javiera Llaitul, Hector’s elder daughter, told reporters that she and other members of the household were pushed to the ground during the raid, where police entered the premises without a warrant and refused to disclose where Llaitul would be taken to.

All eight arrestees were charged with Illicit Terrorist Association under the Pinochet era Anti-Terrorist Law, for their alleged involvement in “incendiary attacks against trucks and churches” throughout the region according to official reports.  The Temuco Bail Court ruled on Sunday that the accused will remain in pre-trial custody for the duration of the four-month investigation, as solicited by the Head Prosecutor of the Araucania Region, Cristian Paredes.

Defense Attorney, Patricia Cuevas, stated at the bail hearing that evidence presented against the accused Mapuche community members was incredibly dubious, including the prosecution’s use of a Wikipedia article citing Llaitul as the leader of the CAM. Llaitul had previously been charged with Illicit Terrorist Association in April 2009 in connection to the same organization, for which he is currently on probation after a lengthy and controversial trial relating to land claims reclamation that sought to keep the CAM spokesman in prison for 12 years.

The unjust retrial of Llaitul in this similar case and the mass arrest of eight Mapuche leaders this past weekend is adding insult to injury to the already heightened tension in Wallmapu, where 4 Mapuche Political Prisoners are currently enduring an 111-day hunger strike, with no sign of response by Chilean authorities.

As mobilizations in favour of the Mapuche hunger strikers continue to increase, escalating repressive police tactics have been recorded throughout the territory, specifically targeting the leadership of the Mapuche movement for territorial reclamation. This spectacle of repression seen through the drastic increase in militarization in Mapuche communities, as well as other high-profile arrests –  including that of Mapuche Werken, Daniel Melinao, last week –  demonstrates the wrath of Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, to erase any signs of Mapuche resistance during her last months in office.

It is unclear whether Chilean authorities will respond to the petitions made by the hunger strikers, however, Mapuche mobilizations are expected to continue with a call to action for national and international support, amidst growing government repression against Mapuche land defenders.

With files from Werken.cl, El Desconcierto and Radio Kvrruf

The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu

https://wccctoronto.wordpress.com

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