Jan 08, 2013

Mapuche: Open Letter to Chilean President Piñera

In an open letter to the Chilean President, the Chief Calfunao convicted the recent violence and expressed her condolences to the relatives of Werner Luchsinger Lemp and his wife Vivian McKay as well as condemned the inhuman treatment against the Mapuche.

Below you can find the Open Letter from Chief Juana Calfunao to Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.

Wallmapu, 5th January 2013

Mr. President,

In my capacity as a traditional authority of the Mapuche nation, I wish to express my condolences to the relatives of Werner Luchsinger Lemp and his wife Vivian McKay, for the loss of human life and serious material damage suffered. These events occurred in Vilcún, however, even before knowing their perpetrators the crimes were immediately attributed to the Mapuche. We the Mapuche are the first to condemn violence, because we have experienced such inhuman treatment for almost 130 years.

My community, my family and I personally have suffered numerous attacks of this kind; unknown individuals have burned my house three times; we found the charred remains of my uncle Basilio Coñonao after one of these fires. However, when we Mapuche are the ones affected, and suffer the injustice of being the object of this type of violence, we have to lament the lack of sensitivity of the authorities and the inaction of the media.

In these cases, such as my own, there are no visits by the Chilean President or by his Ministers and Parliamentarians, nor are there any orders declaring a state of siege, never mind the application of the antiterrorist law against the perpetrators. Nevertheless, we have to continue to listen to the political authorities of Chile insisting that “equality under the law” exists. This lack of equality, in the face of such deplorable acts as those that happened to the Luchsinger family, confirms to us once again that the courts are not independent and that the political authorities treat our people with a marked judicial racism. As you, Mr. Piñera, have been able to verify, we the Mapuche have no problem in rejecting and condemning deplorable acts such as the fire that occurred in Vilcún.

You should reflect on the acts of torture that the police inflicted on me, causing me to miscarry, without the culprits ever being convicted; why have the countless arbitrary police raids on the houses of our communities gone unpunished? And what of the stealing of money, the seizure of work tools and communication equipment, which have never been returned? This all makes me think that the police are not at the service of the society as a whole and that for us the Mapuche they provide no guarantee of security and protection, as they should do in a state ruled by law and a democratic system.

However, these facts have occurred in a climate of violence and confrontation by the Chilean political authorities, who cannot shirk their responsibility due to the lack of political will, to resolve the conflict being experienced in our Wallmapu. We must not forget that the facts mentioned have occurred in the territorial context of numerous communities struggling for the return of our lands, which were unjustly taken from us in the past, to which problem the Chilean authorities do not give a satisfactory solution that reduces the poverty that we the inhabitants of these communities suffer. In the same way, we must also take into account that the facts have occurred on the fifth anniversary of the death of our dear lamngien (brother) Matías Catrileo, who was shot in the back by the Chilean police, who enjoy total impunity.

The mobilisations by our Mapuche communities, which are increasing, are due to the lack of justice and the rejection of any type of constructive dialogue regarding the return of our territory. To this must be added the terrible injustice that originated the unlawful annexation of our Mapuche Nation under the jurisdiction of the Chilean state 130 years ago, which caused the chronic impoverishment that our communities have suffered ever since. This unlawful annexation was intended to deny us of our national identity and condemned us to a life without dignity that has left us totally unprotected, criminalised and with our demands made the subject of criminal proceedings by the Chilean state.

Our protests demanding fairer treatment are criminalised, leading to the committing of the most atrocious infringements of our human rights. My own case serves again as an example of the unjust treatment that we the Mapuche suffer. For protesting about the non-payment of a plot of land expropriated by the MOP (Ministry of Public Works) and Frontel, I was the object of sustained political persecution; I was accused of threatening officials and was imprisoned for four years, along with my whole family. They applied a retroactive law against me with the result that my youngest daughter had to go into exile due to the lack of security.

I share the pain of the Mapuche families that have never found justice for their loved ones murdered by the Chilean police. The lives of Mapuches are not given the value and meaning that are given to the life of a winka (Chilean); I will mention these murdered Brothers in particular;

Matías Valentín Catrileo Quezada (2008), Julio Alberto Huentecura Llancaleo (2004), Xenón Alfonso Díaz Necul (10-05-2005), José Huenante Huenante (aged 16, arrested by the police and then disappeared), Juan Collihuin Catril  (August 2006, aged 71), Johnny Cariqueo Yañez (2008), Jaime Facundo Mendoza Collío (July-August 2009) and José Marcelo Toro Ñanco, aged 35 (November 2009).

Mr. Piñera, the world bears witness to the injustices that your government and the Chilean state are committing and have been committing for 130 years now. As an authority of my people, I cannot fail to mention these injustices, because I have experienced them personally and I continue to experience them.  As a Traditional Authority (Lonko), I demand an end to the political persecution and raids; I demand an end to the harassment of communities, which are besieged by the police, I demand that you consider the Mapuche mothers who suffer repression on a daily basis, the youngsters wounded and arrested and the children traumatised by police brutality. We demand an urgent solution to the situation of the prisoners on hunger strike, because due legal process has not been respected. It is also unacceptable that our imprisoned Mapuche brothers suffer long periods in custody without trial until their innocence is proven, as has happened to members of my own family and to many other authorities and members of my Mapuche people; despite the unjust nature of their imprisonment, they have never had even the slightest reparation or compensation for the splitting-up of their families or for the economic, physical and psychological damage caused.

As you have been able to verify, we the Mapuche have well founded reasons for mistrusting the good faith of your government and the previous ones. Tomorrow, 6th January, is the date when we the Mapuche commemorate the establishment of the frontier in 1641 and our independence, which the Chilean state opted to ignore 130 years ago; ever since then, all governments have shirked their responsibility to deal with us with equality and justice. We feel excluded from the law and victimised by a political system that has attempted to eradicate us as a people, to assimilate us and make us disappear. This is one of the main reasons why we Mapuche do not feel any identification with your country. Without a doubt, it is indispensable, Mr. Piñera, to have the political will to resolve the conflict and achieve the social peace that we Mapuche desire so much, and to put an end once and for all to this climate of militarisation of our territory and to the clashes that have regrettably already cost the lives of too many people, Mapuches and Chileans.

Yours sincerely,

Lonko Juana Calfunao Paillalef

Juan Paillalef Community

Curaco Camino Lago Colico Sector

Territory of the Mapuche Nation