Thursday, 11 September 2008
Chilean Politician(RN) is trying to link Mapuche to Colombian FARC.
Written by Thomás Rothe

Humanist Party (PH) head Tomás Hirsch joined Mapuche associations Wednesday in lambasting the political right for attempting to link Chilean Mapuche groups to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“These accusations profoundly offend the Mapuche people and the conscience of all Chileans. They demonstrate the government and the right’s pathetically weak argument to justify a persecution and usurpation,” said Hirsch, who plans to run for president in the upcoming 2009 elections.

“The evident intention is to criminalize and to divert attention from the real problem, which is the military occupation of regions in the south of the country,” he added.

This week, news of a report submitted by Sen. Alberto Espina to Chile’s National Public Prosecutor's Office and the National Intelligence Agency leaked to local media. Espina is a member of the center-right National Renovation Party (RN), whose de facto head – Sebastián Piñera – is an early favorite to win next year’s presidential election. Espina claimed to have found proof of a correspondence between the FARC´s late second-in-command, Raúl Reyes, and a Chilean correspondent named “Roque.” According to the report, Roque solicited FARC military assistance for training Chilean activist groups (ST, Sept. 9). Over the past several days, the allegations have dominated headlines in Chile’s principal dailies.

According to Hirsch, the leak is part of an overall attempt by the RN to gain ties with Colombia, one of the few Latin American countries currently led by a conservative government. Indeed, Piñera visited Colombian President Álvaro Uribe this past July.

“Accusations of a link between Mapuche people and the FARC based on names that have appeared in e-mails and without any fundamental proof is like saying that if Bin Laden had a thorn (“espina” means thorn in English) in his shoe, Sen. Espina has been in contact with him,” said Hirsch. “We demand that Sen. Espina explain his relationship with Bin Laden.”

Indigenous leader Ricardo Inalef

Joining the PH leader in condemning what they view as a conservative smear campaign was Ricardo Inalef, spokesman for the Autonomous Mapuche Council, which represents Mapuche communities in Regions VII, IX, and X.

“The only matter that remains clear from Senator Espina’s declarations is how he and the right have historically despised our people,” said Inalef. “We believe that the insistence of this senator from the right (Espina) corresponds to the creation of a climate that in many ways legitimizes the violence and genocide that is being applied to our people today.”

Hirsch and Inalef made their comments one day after Chile’s Chamber of Deputies met to discuss two bills dealing with government language when addressing the “Mapuche conflict” and implementing more public politics to decrease conflicts between Mapuche and non-Mapuche farmers, especially in the Araucanía (Region IX).

Although the Chamber had specially requested that Interior Minister Edmundo Pérez Yoma, who heads the country’s police and military force, appear in the session, the top cabinet official failed to appear. Pérez Yoma excused his absence by saying he had to attend an anniversary celebration of the integration of Easter Island into Chilean territory.

By Thomás Rothe ( editor@santiagotimes.clThis e-mail address is being
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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 September 2008 )