January 21, 2014
PUBLIC STATEMENT CONCERNING THE ARREST OF THE LONKO JORGE CALFUQUEO AND HIS 15 YEAR OLD SON
On Thursday January 16, on the estate of The Parish, also known by the Mapuche communities of the area as Cheukepulli, Jorge Calfuqueo, the Lonko of the community of Llaguepulli, was arrested with his 15 year old son. This land belongs to the Catholic Church and is claimed by the Mapuche communities of Lake Budi. They were arrested on the property while gathering firewood for domestic use. The police, who needed an eviction order to carry out the arrest, were allowed to enter the estate by the Catholic Church.
According to the police, the risk of fire was the reason for the arrest, since the Lonko and his son, lit a fire inside a ruka built within the reclaimed territory. This is done regularly to generate smoke and so manifest the Mapuche presence in a place, symbolizing the effective use of the land recovered.
It should be recalled that several communities of Lake Budi initiated a recovery process of The Parish’s estate over 6 years ago. These communities have expressed their right to claim this land as Mapuche, as indicated in article 1 of the 19.253 of the indigenous law, because of the need of territories for the Budi Community to live in. Most of their youth are compelled to migrate to the cities of Chile because of the lack of available land, resulting in a precarious life. Before deciding to proceed with an effective action of recovery of the claimed territory, the community members have exhausted all legal and judicial recourses available for the subsidy of the CONADI land, and have been faced with both bureaucratic indifference and the clientelistic mechanisms that structure the purchase of the Mapuche land.
The Mapuche community has planted a Rewe to perform Mapuche ceremonies, planted and harvested cereals and potatoes, and organized various socio-cultural activities with other Mapuche communities. The reclaimed territory has also enabled the raising of animals, which was no longer possible in these communities due to the lack of land.
In other words, the participants in this recovery have demonstrated their ability to manage the estate for the benefit of the Mapuche families, economy and spirituality.
It must be stressed that this conflict stems from the dispossession of Mapuche territory in the late nineteenth century after the «Pacificación de la Araucania» military campaign. Once the Mapuche were under military control, the State organized the handover of Mapuche territory to European settlers and Chileans. The Mapuche were forced to live in «reservations» (now misnamed «communities» by the indigenous law 19.253), small spaces that condemned them to impoverishment and to economic, social, cultural and political marginalization.
In the territory of Budi, the State handed over 50 000 hectares of land to the colonizing company Eleuterio Domínguez in 1902, and left the Mapuche in reservations of few acres and poor soils. At the time, the Catholic Church took advantage of the situation settling in the closure of Lake Budi and installing a mission in Puerto Domínguez. Since then, the Catholic Church, and especially the parish of Puerto Dominguez, played a key role in consolidating and promoting the new colonial order; one based on social and economic inequality and the systematic subordination of the Mapuche and their culture.
It should be added as evidence of the ancestral presence of the Mapuche in land claimed as a space of spiritual importance that the parish of Puerto Dominguez was built on an Eltun, a Mapuche cemetery. This mere act materializes the Catholic Church’s attempt to overcome the Mapuche culture.
The present territorial recovery has been performed peacefully by the Mapuche communities from the beginning with a constant will to dialogue. Lonko Jorge Calfuqueo, now arrested along with his son, has been a key player in the peaceful realization of this recovery.
We, the undersigned, condemn his arrest along with that of his son, and call for both the Church and the State to listen to and understand the historic, economic, social and cultural reasons the Mapuche have when claiming this territory.
*ÑUKE MAPU, FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY
*COMMISSION ETHIQUE CONTRE LA TORTURE, FRANCE
*COMMISSION ETHIQUE CONTRE LA TORTURE, BELGIUM
*COLLECTIF DE SOUTIEN AU PEUPLE MAPUCHE, FRANCE
*COMITE MAPUCHE BELGICA (COMABE), BELGIUM,
*UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION (UNPO)
*TERRE ET LIBERTE POUR ARAUCO, FRANCE
*COMMISSION D’APPUI AUX PEUPLES ORIGINAIRES DU CHILI, SWITZERLAND
*DEFENSA INTERNACIONAL POR LOS DERECHOS DEL PUEBLO (DIDEPU), SWITZERLAND