Chile: Mapuche Coordinator denounces ‘political persecution’ after the arrest of its leader

Chile: Mapuche Coordinator denounces 'political persecution' after the arrest of its leader

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Police arrested Héctor Llaitul, leader of the Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM), one of the main radical Mapuche organizations that has claimed responsibility for forest fire attacks in southern Chile, and who demanded the release of its top leader.

The Police arrested this Wednesday the Mapuche leader Héctor Llaituln of the Arauco Malleco Coordinator (CAM), one of the main radical organizations that has claimed responsibility for forest arson attacks in southern Chile. For his lawyer, the leader is a scapegoat and a key political element in the face of the constitutional plebiscite on September 4 next.

“The detention has been treated profusely in all the media in Chile. In this it resembles an electoral political propaganda activity in the context of the September 4 plebiscite”, he assured. RFI Rodrigo Román, lawyer for Héctor Llaitul, leader of the Arauco Malleco Coordinator, who explains that the arrest would be for the crime against State Security.

The arrest of the Mapuche leader was received in general favorably both by those who defend and by those who criticize the new Constitution that will be submitted for consultation. For Llaitul’s lawyer, however, his client is a victim of the campaign.

“I believe that he is being used as a scapegoat in this political and ideological dispute that is taking place in Chile due to the plebiscite. From what I have been able to hear, neither Héctor Llaitul nor the CAM have any connection with the institutional political process that is taking place in Chile, for which I would not dare to say that it comes from Approval or Rejection, I believe both options, the political class in general, are celebrating with the arrest of Llaitul”.

The indigenous leader Llaitul militates for the recovery of ancestral lands and has been investigated since 2020 by the government of Sebastián Pinera, after arson attacks. Several Mapuche groups maintain a pulse in the south of Chile in order to expel the forestry companies from the Biobío and Araucanía regions. It is one of the towns where the current left-wing president, Gabriel Boric, obtained fewer votes in the presidential elections and a region that is preparing to reject the new Constitution promoted by the Government on September 4.

“No one is above the law”

During the night of Wednesday, the Chilean Police reported three different arson attacks on a farm and a road in the region of La Araucanía (719 km south of Santiago) in which two tractors and three trucks were burned, where the attackers also They erected barricades and left banners demanding Llaitul’s release.

The region of La Araucanía is the focus of a historic conflict between the Chilean State and the Mapuche who demand the return of lands that they consider their own by ancestral right and that are currently in the hands mainly of logging companies.

The arrest of Héctor Llaitul generated a wide police deployment to be transferred by helicopter from the town of Cañete, where he was arrested, to the city of Temuco in the region of La Araucanía, in the south, where on Thursday the Prosecutor’s Office will present charges in against him at a court hearing.

“Nobody is above the law. Our legal teams are going to participate in the hearing and we are going to request precautionary measures according to the verification of the criminal acts that may occur in this instance,” Interior Minister Izkia Siches said in Santiago. before the press.

The CAM issued a statement published by the Mapuche media outlet Werken Noticias in which it describes the arrest of its leader as “the materialization of political persecution” against his “political project”, “which has permeated communities that today hold the presence of the forestry industry mainly”.

Llaitul has recognized the recovery of wood and has called for armed resistance in the framework of the actions carried out to expel forestry companies from the territory they consider theirs in the Biobío and La Araucanía regions.

He also admitted in several press interviews that members of the CAM were responsible for arson attacks in the framework of the historic land claims.

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