In the south of Chile, a section of the Mapuche population has been waging a fierce struggle for many years against the large landowners (burning down their villas and occupying their land) as well as against agro-forestry operators, large hydro-electric dams and intensive salmon farms. It was in this context that Pablo Marchant Gutiérrez was murdered on Friday 9 July in Carahue during an attack on the vehicles of the company Forestal Mininco (a subsidiary of the cellulose giant CMPC).
The 29-year-old former anthropology student, who later joined the Mapuche struggle through CAM (Coordinadora Arauco Malleco), was participating in the burning of a minibus, a skidder and a tanker at around 5pm on the Santa Ana-Tres Palos estate when he was shot in the head at close range by carabinieri charged with protecting the interests of the loggers. Another saboteur and an employee were also wounded by bullets in the exchange of fire, and the public prosecutor’s office was quick to speculate that the bullet that sent the latter to hospital came from the M16 held by Pablo Marchant.
For its part, the CAM immediately made public the fact that Pablo had been shot by a carabiniere during a sabotage action carried out by one of its local groups (Órgano de Resistencia Territorial, ORT), the one called Lafkenche-Leftraru, thus becoming a Mapuche fighter (weichafe) who had fallen during the struggle. His body was accompanied the next day by 300 people from the Temuco Forensic Institute to the municipality of Lumaco, where a vigil for his body (feretro) will be held until Tuesday 13 July, the day of his burial.
The announcement of the assassination naturally triggered angry demonstrations the following Sunday from Santiago to Antofagasta, as well as numerous roadblocks, gunfire against carabinieri or landowners’ guards, and incendiary attacks by other radical Mapuche groups in several different regions (Biobío, La Araucanía and Los Ríos). Far from seeking justice from the murderous state, the latter immediately set about keeping Pablo Marchant’s ideas alive by attacking companies that exploit water or the forest throughout Mapuche territory.
Continue reading “Chile: Mapuche zone ignites after the murder of Pablo Marchant [update]”