SANTIAGO – The images of the attack on the town hall in Curacautín on Saturday night ignited protests on Sunday. In cities across the country, large groups gathered and marched in support of the Mapuche people. On social media, similar protests were held – although some in support of the attack.
At a time when, around the world, protests are held against racism, with the Black Lives Matter movement as the primary protagonist, Chile might be living its own “George Floyd” moment after an armed mob attacked the town hall of Curacautín. The building had been occupied for several days by Mapuche activists and the chants sang during the raid and the publications released on social media afterwards indicate that this attack was racially motivated.
Chile is divided on many topics and the Mapuche conflict is one of them. This was clearly illustrated when several topics started trending on social media at the same time. Those in support of the attack started the hashtag #AraucaniaDesperto, a clear reference to the #ChileDesperto protests from last year. The main message: habitants of the La Araucanía region are rising up against the violence in the region.
Another hashtag #NoEsRacismoEsTerrorismo, showed they were targeting what they call “terrorist groups,” and not the Mapuche people as a whole. There were no mention, however, of state violence in the region by those using these hashtags.
Felicitaciones a los valientes de Curacautín. 👏👏👏 No podemos seguir esperando de brazos cruzados en nuestras casas, cómo unas bestias se apropian, toman y destruyen todo. Son ejemplo para el resto de los chilenos que aman la libertad. #AraucaniaDesperto https://t.co/B0IFJ37Km0
— Una nueva consciencia (@sergioulloa1) August 2, 2020
With the hashtag #wallmapulibre, those in support of the Mapuche demanded an end to the occupation of what was originally Mapuche land. With #MapucheLivesMatter they asked for end to the attacks on Mapuche people, which in the last 20 years have cost the lives of over 20 indigenous people in southern Chile, often without convictions for those responsible. The hashtag #AraucoTieneUnaPena refers to the famous Violeta Parra song, about the decades of oppression of the southern people by the Chilean state.
The protests on social media were one thing. On Sunday, in cities across the country, people also took to the streets, waving Mapuche flags, in support of the Mapuche cause. In Concepción, a large crowd gathered on the central square of the city to show their support. In Valdivia, things turned more violent when protesters clashed with police forces. Five people were detained.
In various neighborhoods in Santiago, barricades were put up by groups protesting against the racism against the Mapuche in Chile. In most places, the marches were held in a pacific manner, with some isolated incidents. At 9:00 p.m., a nationwide cacerolazo was announced, and protesters, especially those in the Chilean capital, took to their balconies to clang pots and pans for the largest indigenous group of Chile.
Ahora Huechuraba, La Pincoya pic.twitter.com/Z6jWkZdv9q
— Primera Línea Revolucionaria Chile 🏴 (@primeralineare1) August 3, 2020
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.