Southern Cone
mapuche

Chile: Boric faces Mapuche challenge

Gabriel Boric, a young leftist lawmaker and former student protest leader from Punta Arenas, is celebrating his victory in Chile’s presidential run-off election. He was the candidate of a new coalition that came together to press for progressive reforms under Chile’s new constitution. The constitutional redrafting process was set in motion by incumbent President Sebastian Piñera in response to a wave of popular protest two years ago. But Boric will face an immediate challenge from the mounting armed resistance movement of the Mapuche indigenous people in Chile’s south. Following his victory, the group Lavkenche Mapuche Resistance issued a statement claiming responsibility for arson attacks on trucks and equipment of timber and mining operations on traditional indigenous lands. The statement said: “The struggle will not cease. Neither with Piñera nor with Boric.” (Photo via Twitter)

Southern Cone
mapuche

Chile: new escalation in Mapuche country

A group of masked armed men calling themselves Mapuche Territory Resistance seized control of Malleco National Reserve in Chile’s La Araucanía region, occupying the administrative offices and releasing a video in which they declare their readiness to resist “any violent act on the part of the State.” The statement accused the Chilean Forestry Corporation (CONAF), which runs the reserve, of “usurpation” of traditional Mapuche lands and opening them to timber exploitation. President Sebastian Piñera responded by lodging a criminal complaint against the occupiers and demanding their eviction. (Photo via T13)

Oceania
rapanui

Inter-American panel to hear Rapa Nui land claim

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to hear a complaint against the state of Chile brought by the Rapa Nui indigenous people of Easter Island, demanding recovery of their ancestral lands. The complaint accuses Chile of numerous violations of the American Convention on Human Rights, citing Article 4 on the right to life, Article 12 on freedom of conscience and religion, Article 21 on property rights, and Article 25 on judicial protection. More than 70% of traditional Rapa Nui lands are now classified as “state lands,” from which the island’s indigenous inhabitants are effectively excluded—causing “irremediable damage” to their way of life and autonomy. The complaint charges that this constitutes a violation of the 1888 Acuerdo de Voluntades (Consent Agreement), under which the Rapa Nui accepted Chilean sovereignty. (Photo: DebatesIndigenas)

Southern Cone
Chile

Chile: indigenous seats in constitutional convention

The Chilean Senate unanimously approved a bill to reserve 17 of its 155 seats for indigenous peoples in the country’s upcoming constitutional convention. The bill provides a fixed number of seats for representatives of designated indigenous communities in the country. The Mapuche, the largest indigenous group, are to have seven seats. Indigenous people constitute around 11.3% of Chile’s total population of 19 million, and their under-representation in politics has contributed to social and economic inequalities. However, despite demands, the Senate did not reserve seats for Afro-descendants, another under-represented group in Chilean society. (Photo: Pixabay via Jurist)

Southern Cone
santiago

Chileans vote to draft new constitution

Exactly one year after a mass demonstration brought more than a million people to the streets of Santiago to demand fundamental change amid a mass uprising, Chileans voted to scrap the Pinochet-era constitution. An overwhelming 80% voted for the drafting of a new constitution in the two-question referendum, with a similar proportion voting in favor of the new charter being drawn up by a body to be 100% elected by a popular vote rather than one made up by 50% of members of Congress. President Sebastian Piñera signed a law last year calling for the referendum in response to the protest movement then sweeping the country. (Photo: OHCHR via Noticias ONU)

Southern Cone
curacautin

Chile: Mapuche mobilize after racist mob attacks

Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people are holding emergency community meetings in their territory to discuss how to respond to a wave of racist attacks. The most serious incident occurred in Curacautín, Araucanía region, where a group of Mapuche protesters were holding an occupation of the municipal building. The protest had been called in solidarity with Celestino Córdova, a Mapuche leader imprisoned in relation to a conflict over land rights, and now on hunger strike to demand his freedom. The protesters were set upon by a mob, who ejected them from the municipal building before beating them in the street and setting several of their vehicles on fire. The attackers used racist slurs and slogans such as “¡Querían terrorismo, acá tienen terrorismo!” (You wanted terrorism, now you have terrorism!). The Carabineros looked on but did not interfere, only acting afterwards to remove remnant protesters from the building. (Photo: Resumen, Concepción)

East Asia
minneapolis-hong_kong

Podcast: for Minneapolis-Hong Kong solidarity

In Episode 53 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the pathological propaganda game in which Donald Trump exploits the pro-democracy uprising in Hong Kong and Xi Jinping exploits the uprising that has exploded across the US since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. With Trump scolding China over the Hong Kong repression even as he threatens to unleash military troops on protesters in the US, the contradictions could not be more evident. Weinberg urges the Hong Kong protesters to put down their American flags, and stateside protesters not to be fooled by Chinese Foreign Ministry statements in support of the uprising in the United States. Protesters in Hong Kong and the US are natural allies of each other—not of each other’s respective oppressors. Listen on SoundCloud. (Photo composite by Chris Rywalt, with images from AP and Reuters; fair use asserted)

Southern Cone
santiago protest

Protests erupt in Santiago, São Paulo

Protesters and riot police clashed on the outskirts of the Chilean capital Santiago, amid growing anger over food shortages during the lockdown imposed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Police deployed armored vehicles, water cannons and tear-gas to put down protests in the poor district of El Bosque. Residents blocked traffic and hurled stones at police in running clashes that lasted most of the day. Sporadic incidents were also reported in other parts of the city. Nightly pot-banging protests have been held for weeks in several neighborhoods, promoted under the hashtag #CacerolasContraElHambre—or, pot-banging against hunger. That same day, hundreds poured out of the favelas to fill the main streets of São Paulo, Brazil. In an audacious move, the favela residents marched on the state governor’s palace, demanding more support in the face of the lockdown. (Photo: Piensa Presna)

Southern Cone
Plaza Dignidad

Chile: protest against ‘new normality’

For the first time since Chile was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, protesters gathered in Santiago’s Plaza Italia—which had been renamed “Plaza Dignidad” during last year’s popular uprising. Demonstrators were opposing President Sebastián Piñera’s call for the country to return to work under a “new normality,” in spite of the COVID-19 threat. The protesters wore masks, but were nonetheless quickly dispersed by the Carabineros, with 14 arrested. Gatherings of more than 50 continue to be banned nationwide. (Photo via Twitter)

Planet Watch
#QuedeteEnCasa

Worldwide police-state measures in face of COVID-19

With whole nations under lockdown, sweeping powers are being assumed by governments across the world in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Hungary’s parliament voted to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree. The Russian parliament has approved an “anti-virus” package that includes up to seven years imprisonment for serious violations of quarantine rules. Israel has joined South Korea in authorizing use of personal cellphone data to track the virus. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has declared a “state of catastrophe,” sending the military to public squares recently occupied by protesters. Military patrols are also enforcing the lockdown in Peru, Italy, Romania and South Africa. “We could have a parallel epidemic of authoritarian and repressive measures following close on the heels of a health epidemic,” said Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN Special Rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights. (Photo: Peruvian army demonstration video, via YouTube)

Southern Cone
lithium

Chile: indigenous win a round in lithium struggle

The First Environmental Tribunal in the Chile’s northern city of Antofagasta ruled in favor of indigenous communities that had brought suit against Sociedad Quimica y Minera (SQM), the world’s second-largest miner of lithium. The court found SQM’s compliance plan for water preservation submitted to Chile’s Environment Superintendency (SMA) was “insufficient,” citing the “particular fragility” of the lithium-rich but extremely arid salt-flats where the company hopes to expand operations, the Salar de Atacama. Under the ruling, SQM must submit a new compliance plan, pay multi-million fines to the SMA for being out of compliance, or suspend operations. “We must protect sensitive ecosystems even more when they constitute the ancestral habitat of our native peoples whom the State of Chile is obliged to protect,” the court’s chief justice, Mauricio Oviedo, said in a statement. The case was brought by the local Council of Atacameño Pueblos, representing the impacted indigenous communities of Peine and Camar. (Photo: First Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta)