A new death has plunged the Mapuche nation into mourning this Tuesday, 6 August, with the confirmation of the murder of Rodrigo Elicer Melinao Licán, member of the community Rayen Mapu of Lof Lolokos in Ercilla, who was persecuted by the Chilean state and business interests in Wallmapu.
The body of the young community member was found by acquaintances this Tuesday morning, in parcel number 4 of Chiwaiwe sector, territory in conflict with the big logging companies. Amidst their grief, the family noticed that Rodrigo’s body was scored with bullet wounds, so they prohibited the presence of any outsider, above all police, who could tamper with the evidence.
The mistrust is obvious. This is an area besieged by the Special Forces, Gope [a militarized Chilean police unit], and intelligence units of the Carabineros, PDI, and government [respectively, another police force, the Investigative Police, and the elected government currently in power] that are working to protect the businesses occupying Mapuche lands. Lands in the hands of invaders which have been claimed by the communities of the area for decades and that today are once again watered with the blood of fighters, just as happened earlier with Alex Lemún [another Mapuche weichafe, or warrior, killed by police].
Rodrigo was condemned to 5 years in prison–together with Cristian Levinao–last July 24th for “arson and damages” against a logging company in 2011, without any more evidence that “faceless” witnesses who named him as the author of those actions of resistance. The sentence had been stayed due to an appeal presented by the defense.
Mininco, Arauco and Volterra; the big landowners and their allies in the regional government of La Araucanía must be celebrating in silence, while Congress pushes forward the law for Forestry Incentives that will fill their pockets; while the militarized police forces and their superiors demonstrate their capacity to defend their interests: the capacity to kill liberally and with full impunity.
From chileboliviawalmapu.wordpress.com :
Rodrigo Melinao was not a passive victim, and the Mapuche are not a downtrodden people in need of help. Melinao was a weichafe, a warrior engaged in a longstanding struggle for the recovery of stolen lands and the ejection of the State and capitalism from Mapuche communities. News of his death should matter to anarchists because he dedicated his life to struggling against many of the same forces that are our enemies as well, albeit from a different tradition.
The Mapuche in struggle have already reached out to begin building relationships of solidarity with anarchists in Chile, Argentina, and elsewhere. We can let them know across the distance that Rodrigo’s death also angers us, and that his life also inspires us.
Mapuche comrades have requested international solidarity as 12 longtime participants in the struggle stand trial on antiterrorism charges this August and September. Solidarity demos are being planned in several towns, and there is always time to organize visits to local Chilean consulates. People who do not live near a consulate are calling or emailing Chilean consulates to voice their support for the 12 Mapuche standing trial in Temuco, and against the Chilean state’s usage of the antiterrorism law against the Mapuche struggle.
As unsatisfying as these actions may feel, they do make a difference in heavily politicized trials, such as this one. Many of the 12 have already been locked up and brought to trial under the antiterrorism law; in 2010, they won their freedom through an 80-day hunger strike backed by major Chilean and international support.
The killing of Rodrigo Melinao doubles the need for solidarity. The Chilean state is seeking to stamp out the Mapuche struggle. We should respond however we see fit.