Twenty-three Mapuche indigenous comuneros being held at two prisons in Chile have been on hunger strike since July 11. The prisoners are demanding the dismissal of the cases brought against them in military courts, the release of all “Mapuche political prisoners,” and the end to the application of a Pinochet-era anti-terrorism law against them.
Fifteen of the prisoners are being held in the El Manzano prison in Concepción, Chile’s second city, and the other eight are at the detention center in Temuco, 670 kilometers south of Santiago. All 23 are still awaiting trial, in some cases more than 18 months after their arrest.
Kin of the Mapuches contrast the treatment experienced by their loved ones with the right-wing Chilean government’s public expressions of sympathy with political prisoners in Cuba. “The stance of the central government has been of complete support” for the political prisoners in Cuba, said Maria Tralcal, wife of one of the imprisoned Mapuches. “They don’t take account of the internal problem they are creating. It’s a double standard.” (Prensa Latina, July 15; LAHT, July 13)