Luis Melinao on the Death of his Cousin: “A Peñi [Brother] Dies, But 10 More Will Rise Up

luto black flagsAugust 6th, 2013

The Werken [Spokesperson] of the Wente Winkul Mapu Community, Luis Melinao, cousin of the murdered Mapuche in Chiwaiwe, tells us that Rodrigo Melinao Licán had dedicated himself to the land to maintain his family.

The following interview with El Dínamo, accounts for the frustration that is found throughout Mapuche communities: “If it had been anyone other than a Mapuche, everyone would have had something to say.” Moreover, he states that death is not an obstacle: “A Peñi [Brother] dies, but ten will rise up to continue demanding liberation.”

“We can see here that there is a persecution that leads to the death of Mapuche by the police; they are the ones responsible for his death,” assured Melinao.

–          The body was found by the very community members. What time was it?

He was found by some neighbours and they told his brothers. They found the body in the middle of a field, just left there, dead… This happened at midnight, approximately 50 metres away from a path that Police tread at night. It is an absolutely militarized territory

–          Was this close to the community?

It was surrounding the community, in Chiguahue, in lands where the Rayen Mapu community is reclaiming territories, just like ours.

–          With who(m) are the communities in conflict?

We are reclaiming private settler Estates that established themselves here after the Agrarian Reform, as well as lands that are occupied by forestry corporations.  We are in conflict with them, but the conflict does not begin with us; what we reclaim is what one day belonged to us and was taken through deceit, we cannot ignore history.

There are many Estate Lords that came to usurp these lands: Juan de Dios Fuentes, Forestry Bosques Arauco, Cautin Forestry Co., Minico Forestry Co…. All of which are usurpers of Mapuche Lands.

–          The Interior Minister, Andres Chadwick, highlighted that Luis was a fugitive of Justice…

We must clarify what happened as soon as possible. When a Mapuche is murdered, it falls on deaf ears; no one rejects these deaths. Police must come forward and recognize that they killed our brother.

–          Do you discard the responsibility of other armed groups?

We point our suspicion towards the Police, but it also could have been other paramilitary groups loyal to Estate Lords. We need to clear up what happened; the institutions that are investigating must give answers.

–          I imagine that conflicts with Police are commonplace in the area

We usually do not travel by night, because it gives us fear. It has been a year since the establishment of Pidima Police Station that resembles more like a military base. At night about 15 or 20 Special Police GOPE Unit officers walk around armed, throughout surrounding communities in a very arrogant manner. That is why we avoid going out at night. They only come out at night. Our brother was caught walking in the surrounding area where settlers are being guarded by police and their transit is more frequent… We live 5 kilometres away from the GOPE Police base.

–          How long had Rodrigo been a fugitive of Justice?

Our brother was convicted to 5 years for arson and for mischief another 540 days. His trial was being examined by the Supreme Court. He had been underground for about a month.

–          Had you had contact with him?

Yes, he was well. He was seeking refuge inside the community, where he was working. He had a family to maintain. Plus he was in good health. He was murdered; we saw how the bullet had impacted his body, which left a gunshot to the chest. The prosecutor had confirmed this last fact too.

–          When the family found the body, they did not immediately hand in the body to Justice. Why not?

Of course, we demanded that the body be given through the chapel of Ercilla so that things could be done transparently, so that there wouldn’t be any external intervention.

–          What would you say to the Government?

We have declared that there is discrimination towards the Mapuche People, and this proves it. If it had been anyone other than Mapuche, or a death like this would happen in rich neighbourhood, or if the dead was a police officer, everyone would have spoken out. The government has maintained silent and that is because of discrimination. But this will not stop us; we will continue forward and remain firm. We will continue to reclaim the territory, even if we have to confront death, prison or going underground. These are the consequences; they are details of this movement. We will not stand down. One Peñi [Brother] dies, but ten brothers will rise up to continue demanding liberation.

–          Rodrigo was 26 years old, he was quite young…

All of the brothers that have been murdered by police have always been very young, so they are attacking young people.

País Mapuche

Distributed by: The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu [Toronto]


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