Jan 18 2008
Chilean Judge: Justice for Mapuche Indigenous.
Santiago de Chile

Santiago de Chile, Jan 18 (Prensa Latina) The murder of a young Mapuche man in the southern Chilean region of Araucania by carabineers, the more than 90 days of strike by a Mapuche prisoner and systematic protests, increased tensions in the Chilean indigenous conflict.

The Mapuche people say they are struggling for their rights, such as defense of their lands, waters and protection of the environment.

In an interview with Prensa Latina, former Judge Juan Guzman Tapia, linked to the cause of Chilean indigenous peoples, explained that the Mapuche people have been victims of European occupation for more than 500 years.

The new invasion, robbery, occupation and trickery was increased with the dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), which exterminated a great number of Mapuche people.

The former judge explained that many people thought that with the end of the Pinochet regime things would get better, but the Chilean Constitution is neoliberal and discriminatory.

He added that the Chilean government favors land invasion by transnationals, allows the takeover of forests and other resources that contribute to increase the profits of enterprises and organizations.

For Guzman, a judge who tried Pinochet, the Mapuches are suffering "the worst invasion by great economic powers."

"That explains the resistance and vindication struggle of the communities, the recrudescence of violence, and other factors, like the recent murder of Matias Catrileo, 22," he said.

A test by a laboratory of the Investigation Police determined that a bullet in the back killed Catrileo, the second fatal victim of violent acts against Mapuche activists.

Guzman said homicide is punishable in Chile with five years of prison, but in practice, terrorist actions or behaviors were punished with sentences of 10 years of prison.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet appointed a commission to face the Mapuche community crisis.

If this is not a political measure, it would give great satisfaction to the Mapuche people, because it is not about promises, but considering measures to benefit them," he concluded.

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