Chile: Mapuche activist charged under “anti-terrorism” law

On Feb. 14 a court in Temuco in the southern Chilean region of La Araucania formally charged indigenous Mapuche activist Miguel Angel Tapia Huenulef with six counts of possession of firearms and explosives under the Anti-terrorism Law. Police agents said they had found the weapons and explosives during raids the night of Feb. 11 at Tapia Huenulef’s home in Lo Prado community in Santiago and in a house in the Huallalin sector of Padre las Casas in Novena region. The court ordered Tapia Huenulef held in prison during the investigation, which it said should be completed in four months. He also faces drug possession charges in Santiago and charges of arson and assault from a Jan. 12 attack on the San Leandro estate in Lautaro in La Araucania.

Relatives who lived with Tapia Huenulef in Santiago said agents burst into their home before midnight on Feb. 11, using violence against men, women and children, and refusing to show a warrant. A total of 50-55 agents were involved in the operation, including the ones that surrounded the building, according to the family. The relatives considered the discovery of the weapons a “staged event” and noted that the agents had brought backpacks and two valises with them. Senator Alejandro Navarro, the presidential candidate of the Broad Social Movement (MAS), said on Feb. 14 that “to apply the Anti-terrorism Law to a Mapuche is to return to the [military] dictatorship” of 1973-1990. According to Navarro, President Michelle Bachelet had promised—in response to criticism by international human rights groups—not to apply this law in such cases. (El Mercurio, Chile, Feb. 14; Radio Universidad de Chile, Feb. 12; Enlace Mapuche Internacional communique, Feb. 14; La Nación, Chile, Feb. 15 from UPI)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 15

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