SANTIAGO — Mapuche spiritual leader Celestino Córdova has been on a hunger strike for 100 days and has recorded an audio in anticipation of his eventual death. Córdova was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of the Luchsinger Mackay couple and is asking to serve part of his sentence under house arrest. He is also demanding that the government comply with Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization.
This morning, Aug. 11, Mapuche spiritual leader Celestino Córdova released a four-and-a-half-minute audio saying goodbye to his community. “I am very sorry that I have to deliver my last message, in the last days I have left, for my definitive sacrifice, in what will be an honor for me to give my life for my Mapuche people.”
Córdova has been on a hunger strike for 100 days now. In 2014, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of the Luchsinger Mackay in 2013. Amid the Coronavirus crisis, the Mapuche machi (spiritual leader) is asking to serve six months of his sentence under house arrest, so that he can continue to practice Mapuche medicine in his rehue (Mapuche sacred place); and, despite his conviction, Córdova also claims that he is innocent of all charges and that his case is politically motivated.
As a result, aside from asking to serve six months in his rehue, Córdova is also asking that his case be reviewed and that Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization be followed (this international convention, ratified by Chile, underscores the special position indigenous communities have in societies).
Celestino Córdova 100 Days on Hunger Strike
Since Jul. 15, Córdova has been in the Hospital Intercultural de Nueva Imperial, and he is now extremely weak. In the audio he released today, Córdova also said he would again stop taking liquids. He also refused to continue receiving winka (non-Mapuche) medicine.
“Until my very last day I will remind the Chilean State that I am not satisfied with the massacring of our ancestors, with the spiritual, cultural and socioeconomic impoverishment that was cruelly inforced on our Mapuche nation since the invasion,” said Celestino Córdova in his audio.
At the end of the recording, the machi expressly requested that an autopsy not be performed after his passing.
This audio was filtered by the spokespeople of machi #CelestinoCórdova, who is in critical condition after 100 days of hunger strike. "It will be an honor to give my life for the Mapuche". pic.twitter.com/JXcAVzldv5
— Boris van der Spek (@BorisvanderSpek) August 11, 2020
Fernanda Gándara is currently finishing her journalism degree at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She’s passionate about writing, environmental issues and women empowerment. You can find her on Twitter as @FerGMarchant