The march led by Jorge Luchsinger Junior, estate owner and son of slain occupying settlers Jorge Luchsinger and Miriam Mackay, arrived at Santiago’s Presidential Palace at 9pm in protest of arson attacks carried out on logging transport equipment by Mapuche land defenders.
A caravan of 13 trucks traveled from Wallmapu, occupied Mapuche Territory, to the Chilean capital, carrying the machines that had been set ablaze in the region. The increase of ongoing State repression and criminalization of Mapuche communities in resistance was the objective of the march, which stopped and blocked traffic along various cities across the country in order to provoke confrontation.
Although initially hesitant to receive the caravan, the Chilean Government agreed to chat with the march leaders at the Presidential Palace through the Interior Minister, Jorge Burgos, after a brief meeting with right-wing UDI party President, Hernan Larrain. This was a swift change of plans from what march leaders sought out initially, which was to hand in a letter to Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, petitioning for increased security measures for logging operations in Wallmapu.
Mapuche Protest in Retaliation & Street Riots
The Association’s efforts to provoke public support in their ongoing plunder of Wallmapu inadvertently led Mapuche organizations and their supporters to organize counter rallies across the country, including their final destination at the Presidential Palace. Among other kinds of protests carried out were traditional Mapuche ceremonies (Llellipun), and a call out to raise traditional Mapuche flags wherever supporters resided.
According to Radio Bio-Bio, the association was greeted by a large crowd of hundreds with rocks and molotov cocktails upon their arrival along Santiago’s main street, La Alameda, damaging vehicles along the final march route. However, special police forces quickly came to the defense of Association, firing tear gas and water canons at the protesters, where many were arrested.
Historical Aiding in Plunder and Genocide
Within Chilean society, the Truckers Association is widely known to have deep rooted right wing/fascistic roots, most notably their role in the destabilization of the Allende Socialist Popular Unity government. During the 1972 -73 Truckers Strike, trade professionals were aided by the United States government in order to delegitimize Allende’s credibility as a statesman, which later laid the groundwork necessary for the Coup of September 11th, 1973, and the subsequent fascist military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
The march carried out by the Truckers Association today is particularly gruesome, given the colonial settler nature of the estate owners involved in the mobilization. Matias Catrileo Quezada, a Mapuche Warrior at the time with the Arauco Malleco Coordinator, was murdered by militarized police while engaging in a peaceful land occupation in the Jorge Luchsinger estate on January 3rd, 2008 (an estate also owned by Jorge Luchsinger Junior). Chilean Police officer, Walter Ramirez, received only a mild slap on the wrist for Matias’ murder, convicted to 3 years and a day of probation, as was the case with many other officers who had murdered at least 4 Mapuche warriors throughout the last decade and a half.
Escalation in the Mapuche conflict reached its peak in January 2013, when the Luchsinger-Mackay estate was set ablaze by unknown actors, leaving the couple inside to be incinerated. Increased raids to Mapuche Communities in resistance and arrests followed thereafter, leading to the mass conviction of Mapuche warriors, some for up to 18 years in prison, as the case of Machi [Medicine Healer] Celestino.
The ongoing attack of corporate and state interests against Mapuche communities in resistance continues in Wallmapu, with its current manifestation in this Thursday’s Truckers Association caravan.
With files from El Cuidadano, Radio Bio- Bio
The Women’s Coordinating Committee for a Free Wallmapu [Toronto]