A Lot Can Happen in Three Years

After three years of silence, we have decided to resume this blog. Shortly, we will be jumping back in to the fray with reports, articles, and translations about the situations in Chile, Bolivia, and Wallmapu. First, we wanted to provide a brief summary of important events in these places, for readers curious about the continuity between what was going on three years ago, and the goings-on we will write about in the upcoming weeks.

International solidarity: First things first. The project to deliberately foster relations of solidarity, across continents, between anarchists and others fighting for their liberation from the State has born fruit not just in the initial moment of our trip but in the intervening years as well. We have been able to send books and other forms of support, we have stayed in contact, and in some cases the relationships formed have continued to deepen. The goal, after all, was not a one-off trip but the intensification of the web of bonds that hold us together and allow us to struggle more forcefully and more intelligently. As anti-authoritarian struggles repeatedly break out, strengthen, or come to the awareness of their neighbors in more and more countries around the world, hopefully this model can be of use to comrades elsewhere.

Chile: In Santiago, the most dramatic news is that the “Bombs Case” fell apart, thanks to the stalwart resistance of the comrades arrested and on the run, the strong international and domestic solidarity, and a good legal team. The Chilean government tried to repress the anarchist movement and stop the wave of bombings that had targeted banks and government buildings in the capital and other cities, by arresting fourteen comrades (4 more would also be implicated) and charging them with forming a terrorist organization. Their fantasy of a hierarchical terrorist organization fell apart, and subsequently they were unable to prove that any of the 5 comrades who eventually went to trial had placed any of the bombs. One person snitched in the course of the investigation, but in general people inside and out kept their mouths shut and opposed the repression in a variety of ways, despite their political differences. Those differences persist, but the arrested have been released, the fugitives have resurfaced and resumed their lives, anarchists throughout Chile continue to run a number of social centers, and soon the second Santiago anarchist bookfair will be held, after the first one, last year, was a resounding success. And the bombings and other attacks continue unabated.

In other good news, Tortuga is out of prison and doing well, and Axel from the Security Case is also out of prison, and Carla and Ivan, arrested while transporting an unarmed bomb, have been released into house arrest despite the objections of the prosecution.

Bolivia: Things in Bolivia are not going so well. The highway through TIPNIS proceeds apace. The Bolivian social movements continue to be successfully integrated into the MAS government, and the solidarity that was once common in Bolivian society disintegrates, as the social movements are used against new social struggles, and isolated social sectors use the tactics of struggle against one another for their own economic advancement. Thirteen people, mostly anarchists, who were organizing against the transcontinental highway were arrested in one of Bolivia’s first antiterrorism operations and accused of a series of arsons, bombings and sabotage claimed by the FAI-FRI, some of them in relation to the highway. Since then, many of the arrested have snitched, and many anarchists have decided to support the snitches. More information will appear shortly on this topic.

Yawar’s not-school, or purumpacha, was destroyed by a landslide, along with most of the neighborhood of Callapa, built precariously on an erosion-prone hillside. The traditional adobe structures, he noted wryly, survived the destruction better than the modern brick and cement houses. But as the neighbors have rebuilt, they have requested government or NGO money and opted for paved roads instead of gardens, to Yawar’s disappointment. Subsequently, he lost a volunteer position teaching art and indigenous Andean culture to children after the mothers demanded his ouster. “We don’t want our children to have an imagination,” said one mother. “We want them to get jobs.” Long live the new Bolivia.

On the upside, Las Imillas, the Quechua and Aymara anarcha-feminists in Cochabamba, successfully started their social center, a project we were able to support during our brief stay, and enjoyed two years of activity before being closed down by the landlord. They are looking for a new space.

Wallmapu: The Mapuche prisoners on hungerstrike won some of their demands and were eventually released, but a schism emerged, as the group associated with the CAM declared a victory after negotiations with the government, while the group of prisoners who believe in full Mapuche independence continued the strike for a few days more and declared that they had not won and would continue fighting.

The Mapuche struggle has continued, with a great deal of territory recovered from forestry companies, major landowners, and other capitalists and colonizers; many more arrests and cases of repression; and a number of clashes and riots.

In January 2013, hooded Mapuche youths reportedly set fire to the estate of Werner Luchsinger, a major usurper of Mapuche lands and cousin of the Luchsinger on whose estate Matias Catrileo was shot dead by police during an action in 2008. Werner and his wife died in the fire. CAM, the leftist pro-autonomy organization that was once seen by the Chilean state as the most radical current in the Mapuche struggle but has since been criticized by other Mapuche as reproducing a colonial mentality, distanced itself from the fire. They released a communiqué tacitly blaming the couple’s death and two other deaths on the ex-prisoners and hunger-strikers whom we had visited in Temuco prison, who belonged to the current in favor of total independence. Those peñi have had to go into hiding as a result, and CAM’s leadership have been denounced as snitches.

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