inti ananda intiananda at
Tue Jan 29 16:32:49 GMT 2008

  The early days of 2008 in Chile are being marked by further protests and uprisings among the largest Indigenous race of Chile, the Mapuches, although they themselves do not like to be refered to as Chileans nor as belonging in any way to the Chilean nation with just reason if we take a look at the history of the Mapuches and the treatment they have received ever since Chile won its independence as a nation in the 19th century.
  The latest protests of the Mapuches are over the same reoccurring theme – that of their ancestral lands that have been robbed from them along with their way of life, their spiritual tradition and culture.
  The death, on January 3rd 2008 of 22 year old student Matias Catrileo Quezada, shot in the back by an automatic touting Chilean policeman at a protest over land rights is just the latest of thousands of murders carried out by the Chilean authorities ever since the order was given by the first civilian government of the independent Chilean nation, led by Manuel Montt, to “Pacify the Araucania” (Arauco is the name given to the Mapuche lands by the invaders).
  Matias Catrileo Quezada was a member of a Mapuche direct action group called “Co-ordinadora Arauco Malleco” and was taking part in an action of sabotage against the rich landowner Jorge Luschinger whose estate Santa Margarita de Vilcun in the 9th region of Chile is on ancestral Mapuche land. 
  Luschinger’s name suggests German descent and a direct link to the times of the “Pacification of the Araucania” when German immigrants were among the colonists that stole Mapuche land with the protection of the Chilean military. 
  Mapuche means : Mapu = Earth Che= People and as the name suggests the land itself is fundamental to them and their way of being, living and thinking.
  It was in the name of the land that they successful fought off the Spanish invaders for 350 years, being the only race in the whole Latin American continent that was able to resist the military might of the conquerors and effectively the Spanish advance through South America stopped short at the edge of the river Bio Bio. They were unable to maintain any sort of control over the lands to the South of the river Bio Bio and were obliged to sign a series of treaties with the Mapuches, the most famous being the treaty of Quilin in 1641.
  Despite numerous attempts by the Spanish to extend their territory the Mapuches managed to live in complete independence and autonomy until around 1850 and frequently outwitted and out fought the Spanish. The stories of the strategic intelligence, creativity and almost superhuman strength of the Mapuche warriors make extremely entertaining reading for anyone that likes to see the Imperialist Lords given a good hiding (whether they be Romans, Spanish, English or North American!).
  The current wave of protests on the part of the Mapuches merits our attention because their actual situation is the result of the past 160 years or so of persecution by the Chilean nation that has seen their ancestral lands desecrated first by land hungry colonists from Europe and later by multinational forestry companies, hydroelectric dams, industrialised fish farms and more.
  In the initial days of Chilean independence when Chile was under the rule of the liberating armies led by Bernardo O´Higgins the Mapuches were respected and there was no attempt to invade their territories. Indeed, they were a strong inspiration for the independence movement and some of the more daring heroes of the Chilean revolution such as Manuel Rodriguez used Mapuche fighting tactics to great effect.
  That the liberators were influenced by Mapuche spirit is also shown by the fact that many of the leaders of the revolution formed a group called the “Logia Lautarino” after Lautaro the great Mapuche “toque” (war chief) who possessed a genius and charisma capable of unifying the diverse Mapuche tribes and forming cohesive war strategies that even the Spanish had to admit, were ahead of his time.
  In 1851, however, things changed with the first civilian government and the President Manuel Montt who decided, along with the rapidly forming Chilean oligarchy, that the Mapuches were an obstacle to Chilean expansionist aims. They coveted the rich and fertile forests and valleys of Southern Chile with their abundant water and other natural resources.
  So began the infamous “Pacification of the Araucania” that was to last for 5 governments from 1851 to 1886 and consisted of systematic invasion and occupation of Mapuche territory. Far from being a pacification it was a war of terror and destruction.
   By the 1850’s the Mapuches, still fighting with lances, clubs and animal skin “armour” were at a severe disadvantage to a Chilean military that was equipped with modern artillery and even then it took 33 years to finally overcome the last drop of Mapuche resistance. Needless to say the Chilean army used many dirty tactics in order to demoralise the Mapuches, invading and massacring entire villages of women and children whilst the men fought elsewhere, man to man. They also stole thousands of cows, sheep, horses and other livestock as well as burning crops in order to starve out their feared foe.
  There are no exact figures to say how many Mapuche were killed but the numbers were in tens of thousands.
   At this time the Chilean population was not nearly big enough to expand toward the south and colonise the Mapuche homelands but such was the greed and expansionist aims that the government decided to offer “free land” to Europeans that were prepared to take the step of emigration to a distant and unknown land and consequently many Germans, Italians and English headed for the fertile Mapuche lands and begun to colonise the forested lands of this brave and fiercely independent warrior race. 
  The colonists themselves went in armed and in addition had full protection from a Chilean army bolstered by success in the War of the Pacific and thirsty for more blood. Many of the troops took advantage of the opportunity to loot and rape. Thousands of Mapuche women were taken as slaves or raped before being killed. 
  The surviving Mapuches were herded into some 3000 small reservations and relegated to the status of poor peasant farmers, forced to work as slaves or low paid work by the invaders who organised vast farms, cutting down huge swathes of native forest in order to plant pasture. 
  At this point, as the 19th Century came to an end, the Mapuche began the long trek toward “modernity” and assimilation into Chilean society with all the attacks on their identity, culture and dignity together with a diversity of forms of violence and humiliation that will be familiar to anyone that has studied the plight of Indigenous races around the world at the hands of the Europeans and North American whites.
  In the past 35 years they have suffered particularly with the intense neoliberalisation of Chile that begun with the military government of the murderous dictator Augusto Pinochet who vigorously and violently reversing all the work made by the socialist government of Salvador Allende to begin the labour of returning ancestral lands to the Mapuche and acknowledge their rights as a people.
  Pinochet opened up the Mapuche Lands to foreign Capitalist investment attracted by the possibility of planting vast plantations of Pine and Eucalyptus. A handful of companies such as “Forestal Celco SA”, owned by Italian business magnate Angellini (recently deceased) and others have felled thousands and thousands of hectares of unique native Chilean forest, home to trees sacred to the Mapuche, such as Canelo and Luma that are only found in Chile, in order to plant Pine forests that are used in timber manufacturing industry making a range of types of board such as MDF that use huge amounts of chemical solvents and produce toxic waste that is dumped in another place highly valued by the Lafkenche Mapuches (sea people), the ocean, not to mention the problems of loss of fertility and humidity, erosion and extinction of native flora and fauna caused by the plantations.
  The majority of what survives intact of the Mapuche homelands is now part of a system of Chilean national parks, open to the general public for recreational purposes, at a price, of course. 
  In Chile, with respect to the Mapuches racism is endemic. It is common to find people that believe that the Mapuches are ignorant and inferior. They say that it has been proven that their brains are smaller and they are a less evolved branch of the human race whilst they point to the poverty and social disintegration of many Mapuche families with problems such as alcoholism being common, as clear evidence that these people do not know how to handle themselves.
  I have even heard mentioned by apparently respectful white Chileans that if Chile really wants top progress it must do what all other developed nations have done, citing the United States as a particularly fine example
 that is, exterminate its original peoples entirely.
  Even those that concede the need to address the “Mapuche problem” and cede territory don`t believe that the Mapuches are capable of administering their ancestral lands without “supervision” from the Chilean government as if they were uncivilized cave men.
  This view of the Mapuches clearly doesn’t explain, that if they were so backward, why was an uneducated Mapuche boy like Lautaro of only 18 along with other chiefs like Colo Colo, Tucapel, Caupolican and Galvarino, able to outwit and plan, with a superior strategic intelligence, numerous victories against a force with much better weaponry and armour not to mention horses and a vast experience against the best armies of Europe.
  The Mapuches that the Spanish found inhabiting Southern Chile were a race of tall and well built men. It is said that the warrior Tucapel was over 2 metres. They possessed an incredible agility and quickness of thinking that made up for the lack of weapons and armour and were able to use their knowledge of the terrain in order to lure the Spanish into areas where it was difficult for the Spanish to fight effectively.
  It is by no means an indication of lack of evolution that they lived wild in Mother Nature. They were adapted to their environment and knew thousands of secrets that helped them to survive. That is the Indigenous intelligence and strength, it does not obey the criteria of the white man. Nowadays if the Mapuche are not the same race that the Spanish found we can point to the effect of the poverty, the persecution, the denial of rights, basic nutrition and education in a culture foreign to them as things that have affected their development. It is obvious that if a child does not receive the right nutrition then he will grow less tall, he will receive less vitamins for his mental development and if he cannot grow and live in his tribal tradition he will lose the skills and knowledge of his forefathers.
  Many thousands of Mapuches were massacred and also many died of the diseases brought by the Spanish which also robbed the Mapuches of many of their racial qualities. 
  Despite this, however, they have been adapting and fighting against all these disadvantages and recuperating their strength, their culture and their warrior spirit.    
  Perhaps some would have thought that when the Pinochet dictatorship ended in 1990 the new moderate and democratic government would change things but apparent efforts to address the issue such as the forming of a government body called CONADI to address directly the rights of the Mapuches and other “original peoples” of Chile have proven to be little more than cosmetic changes to give a public image of “reasonableness” whilst slyly continuing with the same policies as before.
  CONADI has made many projects of education to raise awareness about the Mapuches and their rights but unfortunately the good intentions have not been translated into concrete actions and lasting changes. In this case CONADI with all its good words ends up being no more than a public relations exercise that serves to distract the intention of the gullable population and make them think there is a coherent policiy with regard to the Mapuche. Most of the Mapuche, meanwhile, have seen through the charade of modern PR politics and are fighting to reform their traditional forms of tribal organisation, so effective for 350 years, along with the recuperation of cultural and spiritual values, cosmovision and so  things have arrived at a point in which the re-organisation of the Mapuche race is frustrated by the neo-liberal politics of the current government and such is the extremity of neoliberal “ideology” some of the more combative elements of the Mapuche are being called
 terrorists, leading to the notion that this label of terrorist will be applied to a whole race, that is just by being born Mapuche you will be seen as a terrorist.
  Simply put CONADI does not go far enough, it appears to be the nice face of the Chilean Government designed to pacify the Mapuches because if their was any coherent policy on the part of the Chilean government they would not on one hand speak beautiful words about the Mapuche culture and form projects “to help them” whilst at the same time applying anti-terrorist laws against the same people they say they want to help.
  Indeed, in Chile events like the death of Matias Catrileo are a result of the fact that Chile applies its own anti-terrorist law to Mapuche protests and direct actions, thus arming the police with automatics and orders to shoot despite the fact that the Mapuche protesters are armed, as the Mother of Matias commented, only with their ideals. 
  The brave group of young Mapuches, fulfilling their racial and ancestral duty of protecting the earth against the rich capitalist exploiters, realised quickly that the must protect the body of their dead friend from falling into enemy hands and military autopsies. Experience has taught the Mapuches that all they can expect from the Chilean authorities are lies, cover-ups and impunity for the trigger happy Chilean policemen and so they protected the body of Matias whilst surrounded by “special forces” military helicopters etc. and contacted the revolutionary Radio Bio Bio that organised intervention from the local Catholic bishop to guarantee that they could return home safely and organise his funeral in Mapuche style. 
  The funeral was guarded by masked youths who kept the scandal hungry Chilean media away from another farewell to another Mapuche warrior who died defending the land from the Imperialists
  In this modern age the Mapuche people are showing a great example to the rest of the Chileans and the world in general by trying to defend the Earth from the Neo-Liberals yet they are labelled as terrorists.
  Clearly it is one more example of what is happening all over the world. The Imperialist beast uses the terrorist label in order to marginalise and attack ANY FORM OF PROTEST whilst using its sophisticated weaponary, military and police forces, supposedly formed to serve the public, in order to protect the private interests of the “owners of private property” and the exploiters of the patrimony of all people.
  The ancestral wisdom of the Mapuches says that Ñuke Mapu (Mother Earth) should be cared for and respected so that all beings can live in balance and that as sons and daughters of Mother Earth it is the duty of the Mapuche to defend her. According to this fundamental cultural orientation the Mapuches can justly prove that in defending the Earth they are merely exercising their religion but the Chilean state denies them their rights, their land, their culture and labels them terrorists.
  “Mother Earth should be defended by her children, the mapuche are Children of the Herat, the ancestros understood this because everything is made of the same substance, the mountains, the rivers, Stara, the people, the rocks and the Great Spirit. “ – Mapuche Wisdom.
  Inti, Rio Maule, Chile

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