SANTIAGO – The Chilean landowner who threatened a group of Mapuche people with his gun has spoken out about his actions. Luis Gómez Guitterman interrupted a sacred ceremony on the shore of a lake, pointing and shooting his gun at the indigenous group. “If necessary, I’ll use it again.”
On Sunday, a group of Mapuche people in the commune of Leufu Challupen held a ceremony on the shores of Lake Calafquén. Gómez Guitterman was seen on video interrupting the ritual, pointing his gun at those participating. Among them were women and children.
The landowner, who is also the representative of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of the Licanray area, spoke out on radio Cooperativa about his actions. Gómez claims to be the rightful owner of the land the Mapuche were performing their ceremony on – a claim refuted by independent parties.
During a #Mapuche ceremony on Sunday, in the commune of Leufu Challupen, a local landowner interrupted, aiming and firing his gun at participating families. No one got injured. It remains unclear why the landowner used his firearm. pic.twitter.com/QMbLfyNKmL
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) November 12, 2018
“I will use the gun, no doubt about it”
Apart from trespassing, Gómez claimed the Mapuche were surrounding his wife, which made him use his gun. “That is what the firearm is for. The permit states ‘for personal defense only’. And if it’s necessary, I will use the gun, no doubt about it. I am no coward.”
On at least four occasions, Gómez went as far as firing his gun. No one got injured, but the Mapuche people have filed a formal complaint against the landowner. On social media, the photos and videos of Gómez clashing with the Mapuche went viral and sparked anger.
Stage of conflict
The Araucanía region, where the Leufu Challupen is located, has been the stage of conflict for decades. Ever since European settlers started colonies in the southern regions of Chile – native lands of the Mapuche people – the indigenous people of the south have resisted the occupation.
This resistance often results in the burning of forestry machinery and transportation trucks. In 2013, an elderly couple died after their house was set on fire by Mapuche extremists.
The government has responded by implementing the Anti-Terrorism Law, which originates in the times of the military dictatorship. The law gives government bodies the power to arrest anyone who is suspected of terrorism. International human rights organizations have expressed their concerns over this law and the way Mapuche people are being arrested and convicted.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.