Chile: youth wounded in raid on Mapuche village

A 16-year-old Chilean youth was seriously wounded with metal pellets on April 20 when agents from the carabineros militarized police raided the indigenous Mapuche community of Temucuicui in the southern region of Araucanía. The youth, Lautaro Naín, was rushed to the city of Victoria for emergency treatment. According to Mijael Carbone, the community’s werken (spokesperson), about 100 uniformed police burst into the village and began firing at houses. The Chilean Foundation in Support of Children and Their Rights (Anide) denounced “the violence exercised by the police forces against the Mapuche communities, a violence which once again has a child as its victim.” The organization called for an end to police raids against Mapuche communities in Araucanía and for negotiations to end “the conflict created by the Chilean state by dispossessing the Mapuche communities of their ancestral land.” The Mapuche Territorial Alliance (ATM) demanded the immediate removal of local prosecutor Luis Chamorro from investigations in the area, charging that he had an anti-Mapuche attitude and constituted “an obvious public danger.” (Prensa Latina, April 22)

Students remobilize
In other news, both the government and student organizers seemed taken by surprise on April 25 when thousands of students and their supporters marched in Santiago for educational reforms. In contrast to the massive mobilizations of the 2011 school year, student actions had been small since the current school year started in March. But even the police estimated the turnout in Santiago on April 25 at 48,000, while organizers put the number at 70,000; there were also demonstrations in Valparaíso, Concepción, Temuco, La Serena and other cities.

Federation of University of Chile Students (FECH) president Gabriel Boric called the strong showing at the march “a very clear signal that the students aren’t going to back down from their conviction that education in Chile has be a right for all Chileans, and not by getting into debt.” Under pressure from the students’ popular demand for a return to a system of free public education, rightwing president Sebastián Piñera has proposed legislation raising corporate tax rates from 18.5% to 20% as part of a fiscal overhaul that will allow the government to provide student loans at 2%, replacing the current privately financed loans. However, student leaders consider these concessions inadequate. (Adital, Brazil, April 26; La Jornada, Mexico, April 26; Business Week, April 27)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 29.

See our last post on Chile and the Mapuche struggle.