Tuesday, 06 April 2010
Mapuche Tried For Attack On Public Prosecutor In Chile.
Written by Mira Galanova

Activist claims the case is to manipulate public opinion.
Mapuche Leader Hector Llaitul is one of those arrested. Preso politico mapuche.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office last week indicted leaders of the radical Mapuche group Arauco Malleco Comitee (CAM) for an attack on a public prosecutor, robbery, intimidation, attempted murder and participation in an illegal terrorist association.

Prosecutor Andrés Cruz brought charges against 19 CAM members, including 15 who allegedly attacked another prosecutor, Mario Elgueta, in October 2008.

Elgueta specializes in Mapuche cases in the Biobío region and some indigenous rights activists regard him as anti-Mapuche. An investigation concluded that the CAM’s military leader Héctor Llaitul was the intellectual author of the attack.

Llaituls is charged on 10 criminal counts. He is also accused of heading an illicit association that has been stealing wood from local farmers to finance the CAM and its leaders, and for robbery, intimidation of a local farmer, and of setting fire to the machinery of the forestry company Mininco last year.

Cruz is seeking for a sentence of 103 years for Llaituls.

Others charged include Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán and José Huenuchue, who risk 65 and 52 year in jail, respectively. They allegedly both participated in the attack on Elgueta and are also suspected of having travelled to Colombia to receive instructions from that country’s terrorist organization, the FARC.

Some Mapuche activists claim that the criminal cases have been set up to manipulate the public opinion.

“The state has always tried to ‘judicialize’ Mapuche people’s territory claims,” Antonio Cadín Huentelao, spokesperson of the Temuco-based Mapuche Legal Defense Association (Defensor Juridico Social Autonomo Mapuche), told the Santiago Times.

“Many Mapuche brothers were brought before a tribunal, but left cleared of all the charges as prosecutors were unable to prove any of the allegations. [This legal action is] just to make the nation believe that the Mapuches are the extremists,” he added.

In 2008, local prosecutors tried to show that Llaitul and fellow Mapuche activist Roberto Painemil Parra were part of a group of arsonists who set fire to forest machinery in Las Praderas, a countryside area in the Region IX town of Chol Chol, in 2006.

The judges acquitted Llaitul and Painemil was found guilty of possessing illegal weapons, but all other charges were dropped (ST, Jun 15, 2008).

The prosecutors claimed that they had trouble gathering evidence for the 2008 trial. The group’s actions were allegedly well organized, during the night, in deserted areas, wearing masks and the potential witnesses were afraid to testify, they said.

At the current trial, the public prosecutor intends to present approximately 230 witnesses, 100 reports and phone call records.

The Arauco-Malleco Committee is one of many grassroots Mapuche organizations in Chile working to expel multinational forest companies from the south of the country as part of their effort to reclaim land they say is historically part of the Mapuche nation. The activists claim that conditions have not improved for the Mapuche since the restoration of democracy in 1990.

Notwithstanding an indigenous rights law passed by Congress in the early 1990s, they claim that property continues to be taken from them by corporations such as Endesa, one of Chile’s largest energy companies (ST, Mar 21, 2007).

By Mira Galanova ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )