Two Mapuche Women Found Dead: Suicide or Homicide?

SANTIAGO – On Friday, Aug. 7, two Mapuche, a mother and daughter, were found dead inside their home in the Araucanía region. Relatives found them hanging. After autopsies were performed, the Legal Medical Service quickly ruled out the involvement of third parties and said the cause of death was suicide, but Mapuche organizations see foul play.

In the midst of the protests in the Araucanía region that have been going on for over a week, Iris Rosales (53) and her daughter Rosa Quintana (17) were found dead inside their home on Friday, Aug. 7. According to the Araucanía Prosecutor’s Office, the relatives who found the bodies had to break a window to enter because the house was locked. Both women belonged to the Mapuche community of Juan Pinoleo in Ercilla in the Araucanía region.

The Araucanía Prosecutor’s Office initially stated that both deaths had been by suicide. This was later confirmed by the Legal Medical Service after it performed autopsies. The service’s report concluded that the cause of death in both cases was asphyxia by hanging, and that there were no indications of any third parties being involved.

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Mapuche organizations question these conclusions. Some think this case resembles that of Macarena Valdés. Valdés was a Mapuche woman found hanging inside her home in 2016. In her case, authorities at first likewise said it was a case of suicide, but further proof demonstrated the involvement of third parties. She was dead before she was hanged. The case is still being investigated.

The organization Red de Mujeres Mapuche (Mapuche Women’s Network) said it finds it strange that in less than 24 hours authorities have already ruled out the involvement of third parties in the death of Rosales and her teenage daughter. “We demand clarity in the facts and that the complicit silence the State had in the murder of Macarena Valdés doesn’t repeat itself.”

The organization Mujeres Progresistas Tati Allende (Progressive Women) also issued a statement questioning the investigation and how quickly authorities announced it was a case of suicide. “Both women were Mapuche activists, defenders of the land, who had recently denounced the militarization of Wallmapu.”

According to the prosecutor, Enrique Vásquez, both mother and daughter died between 3:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. Vásquez interviewed some of the relatives of the victims who said that the last time they saw the pair was on Thursday night, Aug. 6. The prosecution is now investigating whether there was any motivation for suicide. Meanwhile, Mapuche communities and organizations all over the country remain suspicious and are demanding answers.

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