March brings Mapuche grievances to the capital on ‘Columbus Day’

By Valerie Dekimpe
Published On : Mon, Oct 13th, 2014

Parade of indigenous communities dance their way to Chile’s presidential palace in support of Mapuche territorial demands.

Mapuches with banner

In a vivid display of indigenous culture, various communities marched through Santiago on Sunday morning to raise awareness of Mapuche’s continued struggle to regain what they perceive to be their ancestral land.

According to police reports, approximately 6,000 people attended the March for Mapuche Resistance while Meli Wixan Mapu, the Mapuche organization behind the event, estimates 15,000 people joined in.

Meli Wixan Mapu spokesperson Patricia Lienlas told The Santiago Times that despite being held each year since the beginning of the ’90s, the march was allowed to end in front of Chile’s presidential palace for the first time ever — an important achievement for the indigenous community.

Mapuche woman with kultrun

“This march represents an important milestone in that we were able to stand in front of La Moneda and directly express what we think: that the public policies applied to our community have not borne fruits, but quite the contrary,” Lienlas said.

She further qualified the current policies as “deceitful.”

The march coincided with Columbus Day, officially known as “The Discovery of Two Worlds” (formerly “Race Day”) in Chile. Along with some South American countries, the Chilean indigenous community continues to reject Oct.12 as a celebration, commemorating indigenous resistance instead.

The Columbus Day march

According to the organization, Mapuches were joined by non-indigenous people.

“This is also a success for us, it’s a manifestation of the solidarity between communities,” Lienlas said.

Isolated incidents were recorded in the march, which was largely peaceful. According to Chile’s police, nine people were detained and two policemen were transferred to the hospital after suffering from minor injuries. All detainees have been released.

March brings Mapuche grievances to the capital on ‘Columbus Day’

The march comes one week after a government survey revealed the majority of young Chileans believe the state does not respect the rights of indigenous populations.

Meanwhile, tensions remain high in the south of the country after activists erected barricades after a Mapuche activist was killed, forcing Special Forces to be deployed in a bid to defuse the confrontations between landowners and activists.

Source: The Santiago Times

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