Chile: Indigenous Mapuches Say Governor Using Pinochet Anti-Terrorism Bill Against Them

By teleSUR

30 January 16

There have been increasing reports of land conflicts in La Araucania province over the past several weeks.

Chilean governor in the southern province of La Araucania is under fire for invoking a Pinochet-era anti-terrorism law after a failed bomb attack targeting regional capital Temuco’s prison.

Governor Andres Jouannet filed the terror claim at Temuco’s criminal court Friday, calling the averted attack “extremely serious.”

He is being criticized for linking the act to terrorism and the Mapuche Indigenous community.

Security forces discovered the device before it exploded, on Jan. 15. They believe it was planted in order to organize the escape of numerous imprisoned Indigenous Mapuche leaders. While one Mapuche resistance group has claimed responsibility for attacks recently, the prison bomb was not one of them.

Jouannet attempted to justify the measure to local media, saying that “invoking the law [did] not mean the same than saying there [was] terrorism.”

“Terrorism as a permanent situation is very different from an act that we believe was directed with terrorist ends,” he told Cooperative, arguing that the bomb was not only meant to break into the prison, but also “harm the people inside and outside the prison.”

Jouannet denied intentions to label the Mapuche people terrorists. He said that what is officially referred to as “rural violence” represents just 0.4 percent of violence reported in the province.

Mapuche groups are demanding Jouannet’s resignation.

The anti-terrorism law is a remnant of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. It has been used for many years against the Mapuche people, receiving condemnation from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2014 and the United Nations in 2013, which labeled it “discriminatory.”

The IACHR also demanded that Chile provide all necessary support to the victims who had been accused and imprisoned under the law.

The anti-terrorism law allows Chilean authorities to arrest suspects without bail before trial, to condemn them on the ground of anonymous testimonies, and to give them higher penalties for crimes.

Land conflicts are reported to be on the rise in the past month. In an official statement issued this week, Mapuche organization Coordiandora Arauco-Malleco, which seeks to reclaim Mapuche lands, took responsibility for three “coordinated actions of sabotage” carried out Sunday morning against two hydroelectric dams — Angostura Central and Piltrilon: property of the Colbun group under the Matte tycoon family estate — as well as an action against the logging machinery in the Santa Elvira estate, in the township of Capitan Pastene, Lumaco.

One CAM leader, Hector Llaitul, who is currently on parole for the last part of a 14-year prison sentence, affirmed the organization was neither violent or terrorist, but “at war” with the Chilean state. The Mapuche struggle aims at regional autonomy, he said during a conference at the University of Santiago, and added that autonomy was meaningless without land. Mapuche ancestral lands mainly lie in the hands of logging companies.

On Tuesday, President Michelle Bachelet met regional authorities, along with the victims of the rural violence. She also met with the Mapuche association of mayors, who demanded a new constitution that recognizes Chile as a plurinational state. They also called for the nationalization of water and a cancellation of the fishing law, while they also expressed concern of the criminalization of their movement.

There are around 700,000 Mapuche in Chile, out of a total of 16 million citizens. Poverty among Mapuche on average is double that of the rest of the population.

Source: Reader Supported News

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