ERCILLA – In the southern region of Araucanía, the situation between local authorities and Mapuche comuneros remains tense. Roads have been blocked, confrontations with Carabineros have erupted and at least two city halls had been occupied by activists. According to the latest reports, the city hall of Ercilla has been retaken by a large police force, while a police operation is underway in Collipulli.
In the municipalities of Collipulli and Ercilla, tensions have been at boiling point since the killing of 24-year-old Mapuche Camilo Catrillanca in November. Comuneros protest the presence of the elite force GOPE, the militarization and the occupation of their ancestral lands.
For over 12 days, Collipulli city hall was taken by a group of Mapuche activists. At the moment, a police operation is underway to retake the city hall. Earlier today, Ercilla city hall was retaken. The occupation of city halls will occur more often in the future, the Mapuche activist movement Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM) said.
In a statement released this Saturday, they claim to support land occupations, as well as the sabotage of forestry machinery as means to regain territorial control over the Araucanía regions, or Wallmapu in Mapuche language.
In the text, the CAM claims that “forestry activities are the main expression of capitalism in Wallmapu.” The movement calls upon all Mapuche communities to keep resisting both private and public institutions that exploit their lands. Furthermore, the group demands the release of all political prisoners of Mapuche origin.
Since the killing of Camilo Catrillanca in Ercilla by a GOPE-squad member, the region has turned into a stage of ongoing protests, clashes with Carabineros and occupations of forestry properties.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.