According to local media and witnesses, two Mapuche were shot by military in the south under the imposed State of Exception. Earlier on Wednesday, there had been protests by indigenous communities against the militarization of the region. The government has said the deaths were not the result of any law enforcement procedure.
Two Mapuche men died on Wednesday, Nov. 3, near Cañete in the Biobío Region, both as the result of gunshots. Six others were injured in a separate event. Testimonies from witnesses and local media say the victims were shot by soldiers who were patrolling the area. The Chilean army has been present in the region for several weeks, since the Piñera administration imposed a State of Exception in the south to combat rural violence.
According to Resumen.cl, the deaths were the result of law enforcement activity near Cañete, when armed forces tried to detain Mapuche men protesting on the side of the road. Soldiers allegedly opened fire on a vehicle passing by, resulting in the death of 23-year-old Yordan Llempi Machacan. Another 44-year-old passenger died later that same evening in a Temuco hospital.
In the aftermath of the alleged shootings, the route between Cañete and Tirúa was then blocked by the military. According to a witness, soldiers then opened fire on multiple vehicles, injuring several people, among them a nine-year-old girl. “First, the police and soldiers let us pass. I was behind a bus, I changed lanes to the right and a soldier turned around and shot us at point blank range,” the man said. “Inside the truck was a companion and a nine-year-old girl and they still shot at us.”
🔴 El testimonio de uno de los heridos en Cañete.
— T13 (@T13) November 4, 2021
Different official version
Backed by an army statement, Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado delivered a different version of what happened during a press conference on Wednesday night. “There were two events. One around 2:00 p.m. and the other around 6:00 p.m., very close to each other,” he said. The first shooting, according to Delgado, happened when police tried to dissolve a blockade put up by protesters. “Carabineros initially approached the blockade and were attacked with firearms. Carabineros at that moment were in a vehicle conditioned to be able to resist this type of attack.” According to the minister, the officials used their firearms to repel the attack. Delgado said the same thing happened four hours later, when an army patrol came under attack and opened fire in return.
Referencing the two different versions of what happened, Regional Governor Rodrigo Díaz told Cooperativa that an independent investigation should be opened as soon as possible. “The population, the majority of normal people who live in the territory, aspire to live in peace and what we want is to know what happened,” he said. “What we do not want is to live with contradictory versions, what we want is to know the truth and for justice to act accordingly. Complex problems are solved by making politics and politics is made by talking, summoning the different actors of the territory …. Unfortunately, the Chilean government does not engage in much dialogue.”
Mapuche constituents demand that Piñera resign
The National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) issued a statement calling for an independent investigation and sent observers to the zone and for “everyone to silence the weapons and seek ways of dialogue to overcome the current social and political crisis in the territories of La Araucanía and Biobío.”
At a press conference near the Constitutional Convention in Santiago, constituents representing the Mapuche people called out State violence in the south. The Convention’s president, Elisa Loncón, said, “We want to strongly repudiate this racist, violent policy of the State and the Government, which is affecting our communities.” Spiritual leader Francisca Linconao had even harsher words. “We received word that the Mapuche continue to be killed. There are many dead, many wounded and that is why we are issuing this statement,” she said. “I call on the government to withdraw their Carabineros and their military …. If the president doesn’t do it, let him resign tomorrow, let Piñera leave.”
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.