14 december 2002
Militarized Carabineros arrested Mapuche activist José Huenchunao.
Leader of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), in Tirúa.

In the early hours of November 30, agents from Chile’s militarized Carabineros police force arrested Mapuche activist José Huenchunao, leader of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), in Tirúa. Arrested with him was Jaime Coña Tanamil, leader of the Pascual Coña Mapuche community. Neither leader put up resistance to the operation, which was carried out by 30 Carabineros agents. Huenchunao had managed to evade arrest for nearly two years; he is charged with violating the “State Security Law” in connection to an arson attack on the Lleu Lleu estate in January 2001. Huenchunao has also been linked to a January 2000 arson attack on a backhoe on the El Carmen estate in Temuco, owned by the lumber company Forestal Mininco.

Mapuche protests had intensified since the November 6 arrest in Temuco of Mapuche leader Víctor Ancalaf Llaupe, and the death of CAM member Edmundo Alex Lemún Saavedra, shot by police on November 7 in Ercilla. In the pre-dawn hours of December 2, indigenous Mapuche youth blocked Route 5 by the Manuel Rodríguez bridge in southern Chile with barricades of burning tires to protest the violation of Mapuche land rights. It was not clear whether the protest was related to Huenchunao’s arrest. (La Tercera (Chile) 12/2/02, 12/3/02; El Mostrador (Chile) 12/2/02)

In simultaneous raids early on December 4 in Temuco, Collipulli, Ercilla and Traiguén, police arrested 16 more people linked to the CAM. As of December 5, eight of the 16 were being held incommunicado: CAM spokesperson José Llanquileo Antileo, CAM leader Angélica Ñancupil Poblete, Mauricio Contreras Quezada, Marcelo Quintraleo Contreras, Oscar Higueras Quezada, José Sergio Mariqueo Coilla and brothers José and Jorge Hualquín Antinao. Five of those arrested were not Mapuches, including businessperson Guillermo Hornung Chorobinski, a former member of the ultra-rightwing group Patria y Libertad (Homeland and Freedom), who is accused of financing the CAM. It was not clear whether Hornung’s arrest was intended to confuse Mapuche supporters; Interior Minister José Miguel Insulza said on December 5 that he “doesn’t see the region in flames or big protests in the streets” following the arrests. Insulza said Hornung’s alleged involvement “opens a completely new line of investigations” for the government. (LT 12/6/02; EM 12/6/02; Red Chilena Popular e Indígena 12/5/02)

The Chilean Grassroots and Indigenous Network encourages supporters of indigenous rights to send e-mail messages to President Ricardo Lagos demanding respect for the rights of the Mapuche Nation and freedom for Mapuche and other political prisoners. (Red Chilena Popular e Indígena 12/5/02).