Early on March 20 in Tirua, in Chile’s Region VIII, police arrested Jose Huenchunao Marinan, a Mapuche community leader (werken) and activist who had been in hiding for nearly three years. Huenchunao, a member of the Arauco-Malleco Mapuche Coordinating Committee, was sentenced in August 2004 to 10 years in prison for a December 2001 arson attack against the Poluco Pidenco estate, property of Forestal Mininco, a subsidiary of the Compania Manufacturera de Papeles y Cartones (CMPC), in Ercilla, Region IX. A number of other activists, including Patricia Troncoso Robles, Juan Carlos Huenulao and brothers Juan and Jaime Marileo Sarabia, were also sentenced to 10 years in the same case. (Argenpress, March 23 via Resumen Latinoamericano; La Tercera, Santiago, March 22; UPI, March 20 via Terra Noticias; Santiago Times, March 21 via UNPO)
“After an arduous job led by the Public Ministry and carried out by Carabineros intelligence, we have detained the last fugitives of this case,” announced Interior Minister Felipe Harboe on the afternoon of March 20. (UPI, March 20 via Terra Noticias) In an e-mail message, Huenchunao said his arrest “was the product of a police success and an error certainly committed by me.” Huenchunao added: “Sooner or later, we will see how our people will break free of this oppression and will walk as a dignified people on the road to liberty with autonomy and territory.” (LT, March 22)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 25
See our last post on Chile and the Mapuche struggle.