Chile: Mapuche activist ends fast

After 112 days on hunger strike, on Jan. 30 imprisoned Chilean activist Patricia Troncoso Robles ended a protest which started in October around demands for the release of 20 indigenous Mapuche prisoners and an end to the military’s presence in Mapuche territories. In an agreement negotiated by Conference of Bishops president Alejandro Goic, Troncoso will be transferred to a prison work and study center; beginning in March she will have weekend releases. Mapuche prisoners Jaime Marileo Saravia and Juan Millalen will have the same benefits; they were part of the hunger strike but resumed eating after 60 days.

Known by her nickname, “La Chepa,” Troncoso is a non-Mapuche supporter of the indigenous cause. In 2001 she was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined about $900,000 for her alleged involvement in setting a fire on land in southern Chile occupied by the Forestal Mininco company, part of the CMPC group, which is owned by the Matte family. The family backed the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet; CMPC head Helidoro Matte has holdings worth more than $5.6 billion. (Radio Universidad de Chile, Jan. 31; TeleSUR, Kan. 31)

On Feb. 2 Troncoso issued a statement condemning the release of police sergeant Walter Ramirez, who had been detained in connection with the murder of Mapuche student activist Matias Catrileo Quezada. She demanded that “these cowards”—soldiers and police accused of killing Mapuche activists—”be tried by civilian courts” and that “once and for all trials by military prosecutors be reformed and changed.” (Kaos en la Red, Feb. 2)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 3

See our last post on Chile and the Mapuche struggle.