Catrillanca case: process against suspected Carabineros starts

TEMUCO – The four Carabineros, part of the so-called Jungle Commando, will stand trial for the first time today. They are being suspected of killing Camilo Catrillanca, the 24-year-old Mapuche man who got hit by a stray bullet. The process is the first juridical step in a case that takes Chile by storm.

Four Carabineros have been marked prime suspects in the killing of Camilo Catrillanca. All four of them took part in the shootout, that resulted in the death of the 24-year-old Mapuche man. One of the policemen even filmed the shootout but destroyed the memory card containing the footage. He later defended his actions by saying the memory card contained “intimate images of him and his partner”.

Two of the Carabineros are suspected of direct involvement in killing Catrillanca, while the other two will be investigated for “obstruction of justice”. They will also be investigated for an attempt of murder on the 15-year-old boy that accompanied Catrillanca during his last moments. The investigations will be carried out by the PDI (Police Investigations Department).

National crisis in Chile

Since Camilo Catrillanca (24) died while driving his tractor, during a shootout between armed men and Carabineros, Chile has been suffering a national crisis. All around the country, at universities and on city squares, protesters have demanded justice for Catrillanca and for the Mapuche people in general. They feel the Mapuche people, especially those living in southern regions such as La Araucanía, are being oppressed by the Chilean government.

During the Bachelet administration, the Anti-Terrorism Law was implemented to respond firmly to incendiary attacks to forestry machines, caused by Mapuche extremists. During the Piñera administration, an elite force of Carabineros was trained in Colombia to fight what the government calls terrorism in Chile.

This so-called Jungle Commando has become the symbol of militarization of the south, and their involvement in the killing of Camilo Catrillanca has made protesters demand the resignation of Hermes Soto, national director of the Carabineros, and Andrés Chadwick, minister of Internal Affairs.

Boiling point: The radicalization of the Mapuche conflict

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