CHILE AND MAPUCHE
The SF Gray Panthers November 2012 Newsletter reported the painting over of the mural about Chile that was on three sides of the Bernal Heights Library. That mural included references to the Mapuche indigenous population of Chile. Today in Chile the Mapuche are threatened and persecuted by the government of President Sebastian Pinera much the same way as did Pinochet.
The Mapuche are an ancient indigenous people in southern Chile who matched the powerful Incas over centuries and kept hold of their various territories. The Spanish tried in vain to enslave them. Once Chile was independent from Spain it finally overwhelmed the long Mapuche resistance in the effort called “Pacification of Araucania.” This process in the late 1800s destroyed Mapuche agricultural and trading economies and created a system of Reducciones, similar to US Indian reservations.
Since the overthrow of the Pinochet government in Chile the Mapuche have been struggling to reclaim their territory, their language, their agricultural and horticultural skills adapted over the years to Chile’s incredibly varied terrain, and their own specific culture. The current Chilean government has resisted these efforts by increasingly militarizing areas, including such actions as army and helicopter attacks on the community of Temucuicui. Protests on the ground led to the arrests of some of the protesters led to widespread hunger strikes in Concepcion and Temuco in support of the arrested Mapuche. Subsequently, four men were convicted of killing a police officer. In October, the Chilean Superior Court annulled the murder charge due to “irregularities in the trial.” The Court left standing accusations of possessing arms and mandated a new trial.
Much of the information in this article was reported on line by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization. It was certainly not covered by the US mainstream media. Painting over the Bernal Heights mural about Chile under Pinochet is part of the selective re-writing of history.
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