July 8, 2013
Repeated raids, dozens of prisoners and many more wounded, day by day, in a small place, far from the comfortable and thriving Chilean cities. Why? Simple: because there are people who refuse to disappear, who refuse to stop being Mapuche and to allow Wallmapu to be definitely invaded and destroyed. And even more, there they cry out strongly the idea of the reconstruction of the Mapuche Country.
The Community Wente Winkul Mapu is an organizational unit formed Mapuche based upon a common family descent and territorial unity inherited from a common ancestral origin. It consists of about thirty families, mostly young people, emphasizing their identity and recovering their family and territorial history, they have chosen the path of resistance to shape their future.
It forms part of Lof Chequenco, emblematic Wenteche valley of our Wallmapu, located about 10 kilometers south of Collipulli, in what the Chilean occupation administratively defines as the commune of Ercilla.
Territory of resistance and dignity
Wente Winkul Mapu is the natural heir of the history of struggle of the old community José Millacheo Levío, which restarts the fight for the territorial reconstruction in Chequenco in 2000, culminating with the recovery of the Chiguaihue estate.
But Lof Chequenco is a territory where Mapuche dignity survives from generation to generation. There they developed occupations and erection of fences in the '60s and the Chilean occupation has never been able to consolidate.
Its mountains were the natural domain of Toqui José Santos Quilapán and his father Mangil Wenu and it was there where the murderer Cornelio Saavedra had to install a stronghold while initiating the military occupation of Wallmapu, over 130 years ago.
The new military occupation of Chequenco
The situation of Chequenco in 1880 seems based on that of today, with a police base in Pidima with highly militarized police in a number that exceeds the one posted to Temuco, and with around 10 police checkpoints distributed within the valley. The territory again occupied by military forces with the resulting stream of abuses, bullets and massacres.
Criminalization of the struggle for territory in Lof Chequenco
The new rise of territorial struggle in the communities of Chequenco -which since the '90, meter by meter, has gained ground from the occupation of settlers landowners and Chilean forestry companies- has had sweet and sour moments.
First, the recovery of land taken with blood and fire by the Chilean State is here an important step towards rebuilding our Wallmapu, and though there is still a long way to go, it is in Chequenco where the idea of rebuilding our Mapuche territory takes shape and is palpable, more than in any other place.
On the other hand, the Chilean state's repressive response has been brutal. To that end hundreds of men, women, elderly and children, inhabitants of Lof Chequenco, have been processed, beaten, wounded or jailed. Still others have been killed by police. Alex Lemún, Zenén Diaz Necul and Jaime Mendoza Collio have shed their blood for the lands of Chequenco or Chiguayhue, as it is also known.
The Chilean viciousness against Wente Winkul Mapu
Since the small community Wente Winkul Mapu began mobilizations in the pursuit of regaining their land, the law enforcement agencies have sought to curb their struggle and have been merciless to this community.
In 2008, Wente Winkul Mapu filed a territorial claim of approximately 2,500 hectares. This is about the ancient lands of the Lonkos Lizama and Nahueltripay, direct ancestors of the current community members. The lands in question are still in the hands of logging companies, such as Bosques Arauco and Bosques Cautín, and individuals such as Juan de Dios Fuentes, former socialist intendant before the military coup. Other occupants have left that area now and on the land, from this time on, those community members of Wente Winkul Mapu who are not yet imprisoned have started planting ans sowing.
And it is so that almost all members of the community have been on trial. Several of the Mapuche prisoners in the jail of Angol are members of Wente Winkul Mapu, including its Werkén Daniel Melinao and Rodrigo Montoya. In the prison for minors in Chol Chol, Gabriel Montoya Valenzuela completed 54 days of hunger strike. While several other community members evade the persecution, resisting by going into clandestinity.
Likewise, the amount of raids they have endured is uncountable and there are several instances where Chilean courts themselves have ordered the police to adapt their operations to respect basic rights, especially of the children and the elderly, which has never been complied with.
Albornoz and the convenient death of a policeman
During 2011 and early 2012, the community faced a string of violent raids. The violence used also sought to generate a violent response from the community members. This was denounced by the support networks in the cities and by their own spokesmen. Since they could not get that reaction, they invented it. So in April 2012, at noon and in the midst of a huge operation, in the courtyard of a house taken over by troops of the Gope, sergeant of the militarized police Hugo Albornoz was fatally shot.
Amid inconsistent and contradictory statements, uniformed police together with the prosecutor, exclusively dedicated to pursuing the Mapuche movement, Luis Chamorro, attempted to hide evidence and change the place where Albornoz fell. They said it was in an ambush on the road and immediately blamed the community.
During the whole of 2012 the raids continued and the brutality worsened
A year after the fact and facing the pressure of entrepreneurs starved for culprits, they detain Daniel Melinao and accuse him of being a coauthor of the death of the sergeant. Subsequently, Chamorro revealed that he is searching for Eric Montoya, as the author.
As evidence they present an expertise telephone search and the usual: Protected Witnesses, who claim to have seen people who seem to be the accused, walking through the place where they live, at the time of the event.
Albornoz's death seems to be the icing on the cake that the government needed to justify the militarization of Chequenco, as in 1880. When after all, it was "just a little Sergeant" coming from a humble family, from a place as remote as the possibility to unveil the truth about his death.