Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chile: Delegation of Villa Grimaldi visited the Mapuche prisoners on hunger strike

by Ignacio Vidaurrázaga Manríquez
Friday, October 19, 2012

During that visit of solidarity and support, there was the opportunity to talk with Paulino, Eric, Rodrigo and Daniel, with their families and with members of the picket of support installed on the entrance way to the Regional Hospital of Concepción. Of all this, narrates this chronicle.

While they were isolated in a couple of operating rooms, under heavy guard of a squad of Gendarmes, they were visited for an hour yesterday morning by a delegation of Villa Grimaldi composed of Lelia Perez a member of the Board and Ignacio Vidaurrázaga, Communications Officer. The delegation from the site of memory in Santiago, was received and accompanied at all times by werken Daniel Melinao Lemunao.

Today, Thursday 18, at dawn the four prisoners with 53 days on hunger strike were taken by Gendarmes to the Court of Collipulli. To subsequently disperse them in different directions.

In Surgery, rooms 7 and 8

Isolated and heavily guarded by nine members of the Gendarmerie USEP (Corrections Special Services Unit) in charge of Lieutenant Mantes we meet the four Mapuche community members. Until the 15th the sheet pasted in the room indicated that Paulino weighed 54.1; Daniel 49.2, Eric 54.9 and Rodrigo 53.3. From the initial weight, all had lost between 10 and 14 kilos.

On a table were stacked the national newspapers, very near by books like The Stone of the Lion and other tales of Ricardo Ceballos and Conversations with a Weychafe in the political prison by Hector Llaitul and Jorge Arrate. Also very diverse DVDS, such as The right to live in peace by Carmen Luz Parot and Salvador Allende by Patricio Guzmán, a Mexican pack, Madagascar and another titled Che, the eternal gaze. They also had a book entitled: "I speak, I learn from indigenous languages ​​..." of the University of Santiago.


The werken Melinao presents Lelia Perez and Ignacio Vidaurrázaga. Lelia meanwhile, delivers to them each a copy of the letter from the Peace Park Corporation Villa Grimaldi has directed to them. It says ... "as a site of memory, Villa Grimaldi knows the consequences that the use
of repression has for society, therefore we demand the end of the persecution policy against the communities, cessation of the application of the Anti-Terrorism Act originated in dictatorship and of the irregularities in judicial proceedings... we join those who have asked the Supreme Court for the revision of your case, nullifying your convictions." 

Then, recounts Lelia Perez, survivor of Villa Grimaldi. "It is Daniel who asks me about what happened at Villa Grimaldi and then asks me if we could locate and bury the bodies of our dead ... and I see that this young man who is weakened by this extended hunger strike has compassion with us and that in his situation speaks of strength. To him, who lives the repression of this moment, who is incarcerated and has a sentence of more than half of his age, the dead from the past hurt him... the unburied and that moves us." 

She continues to share her impressions of the meeting. The Board member Lelia Perez. "When I see them, I realize they are very young, almost children, their pants drop, while they take sips of hot tea. You will need to take time to create atmosphere. Daniel writes down in his notebook, a kind of logbook and keeps our business cards, physical frailty will not prevent them from leaving traces on the memory of this moment." 


Eric's mother is Juana Levinao, a young woman of 36 years -although she appears to be 25- and decked out in trarilonco and trapelacucha while she proudly says "here we are fighting... we come from the Mapuche territory".  

"I have three children, says Juana, and Eric is the oldest, then comes a daughter of sixteen who is in a boarding school in Angol and the youngest daughter of four stayed in Ercilla in charge of a sister." Now she is in Concepción with her nephew Adrian Chiguay of twelve. 

Not far is the mother of Paulino, Florinda Coyan. Both mothers are tired, they have spent many days and beyond worrying about the clothes and the needs of their children the hunger strikers, they have participated in marches and suffered arrests and beatings from officers of the police. 

Juana Levinao says: "We will not give up, although they imprison them they are not going to shut us up. They have a great debt to the Mapuche people, they have not managed to live with us in the Ninth Region... always leaving the Mapuche depleted, with people from abroad they share everything and us they do not accepted nor do they want to share... what is ours." The Mapuche jewels that she proudly bears come from grandmothers who Juana remembers with her bare feet on the hearth, while treading the mote...

"Yesterday they raided and shot at our communities, for the presence of President Piñera. He says to come in peace and seeking a dialog, but we are preyed on in our territories... I say if they want to exterminate us why do they do not do it once and for all?"

Eric studied in Collipulli only up to 8 grade, then went to work as a seasonal fruit picker in Melipilla in central Chile. He wanted to raise money to continue studying, because his dream is to know more about agriculture. "I said I have to take my family forwards (his mother and two sisters)... you have to go away to work the land, because ours are in the hands of the forestry companies." 

"If you have to defend our community and our people, you part with what you have, with what you have on you... We as young people it is like that how we were taken, we did not expect sentences to many years and here we are..." 

"That day they arrived at about 6:00 in the morning, went to my house breaking down the door, pointing their guns at our heads and pulling us to the floor, I was there, my sisters and my mother. They did not know my name. We were shot with buckshot, me and my grandfather (showing us scars on his neck, stomach and leg). There was the Prosecutor Chamorro saying that if we did something they had orders to shoot to kill. They were like 80 armed carabineers with helmets and lights on their helmets. The operation lasted about two hours, then took me to the back of the house of an aunt and from there to a ravine while they kicked me and told me... Indian culiao(very bad insult). They were hooded, you could not recognize anyone, they hit my head and I lost consciousness... then I woke up in an infirmary."

Months have passed and so far of Eric Montoya of 20 years there have not yet been taken statements.


On the street Janequeo on the Square "Los Tilos" and inside the Hospital Guillermo Grantt Benavente there was a picket of support. With flags and paintings, some recycled from the municipal campaign. On that site the mate is shared and lunch
prepared in big kettles. Men and women, about 25 or more that perform various tasks, from peeling potatoes to dancing Purrun wrapped in their ponchos smelling of smoke, all to pray to Neguechen in these difficult hours. There, they have received the active solidarity ot the FENATS and their leaders, of students and neighbors. Even the bishop Chomali was there, but so far no politicians.

The jar for solidarity coins often sounds, the public who attends the hospital and the workers are filling it, and that is used for transportation and to feed this network of support that has shifted from Ercilla following their sons, brothers, in union to their peñis.

Solidarity is expressed in mass marches in Temuco, Concepción and Santiago. Also in a march on foot and with mounted horsemen from the communities to the jail of Angol. In the coming days there are called new actions in solidarity with these four young Mapuche. Students everywhere have stood out for being with the movement of the imprisoned community members

The near future does not look promising. From the prison of Angol, Hector Llaitul and his companions challenge their sentences from legal precepts like double jeopardy at being tried by the civilian and military justice. In Temuco, meanwhile, the hunger strikers begin a dry hunger strike.  

The Werken Daniel Melinao gives interviews, attends visiting delegations and is convinced that despite the 53-day hunger strike and this dispersion his peñis will maintain the protest.

Over there plays with a Mapuche flag a little one called Emiliano of two years, it is hoped that in 17 years, when he has the same age as Daniel Levinao, he will not be imprisoned, nor sentenced to 12 years and that he will not need to undertake hunger strikes of over 50 days. That he should not have to go to work far away as a seasonal fruit picker like Eric, but instead may be happy in his community and territory, as is acknowledged in his rights as a child and as a people-nation.


In the course of
today Thursday 18, Gendarmes proceeded to disperse the four Mapuche prisoners. Paulino and Daniel are in the infirmary of the prison of El Manzano in Concepción. Eric has been returned to the room he occupied yesterday at the Regional Hospital. While Rodrigo was returned to prison in Angol.

Scattering them to defeat them and weaken their convictions seems to be the aim now. At the same time, they believe that they achieve dispersing their families and support networks, tired but active.

But Paulino, Eric, Daniel and Rodrigo remain convinced that their cause is just.


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