By Nelida Tello
Earlier this month, Mapuche peasants carried out various armed actions against the reactionary Chilean State, imperialist companies, and large landowners in southern Chile. Many of the armed actions were carried out by the Mapuche guerrilla organization, Coordination Arauco Malleco as bold denunciations of the military operation launched by reactionary Chilean president Sebastian Piñera in October. While the peasants rise up in the countryside, the old Chilean state is currently undertaking a farcical election process, which opportunists are using to push illusions of constitutional reform as a solution to the ruling class crises.
In the early morning of November 2, Mapuche peasants from Victoria, located in southern Chile, successfully derailed a train transporting cellulose logged from Mapuche land. The peasants targeted the train to denounce the mass production of cellulose and the ongoing military operations. After derailing the train the peasants set it on fire. The reactionary armed forces were taken aback by the attack and could not reach the area with ease. The peasants left a banner with the message, “Military out! Freedom to Mapuche political prisoners!”
The Chilean military operates in the countryside to enforce the semi-feudal condition of the country, defending the interests of the big landlords, known as the latifundium. Against the old State’s attacks, the Mapuche people defend their historical territory and are struggling to secure land for Mapuche peasants to work and live on.
On November 3, in the province of Arauco, in southern Chile, peasants set a Jordan Forestry company bus on fire. Simultaneously, the peasants used a second bus to cut off access to a highway in the same region. The Jordan Forestry company is owned by Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (Arauco) and is one of the largest forestry companies in Latin America. Grupo Angelini owns mills and factories in Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. The company is seeking to expand the production of cellulose from 800,000 tons to 2.1 million tons a year in Arauco. Celulose Arauco y Constitution is a subsidiary of Grupo Angelini, which invested $2.3 billion dollars for the development of the forestry industry in the region.
Waychan Auka Mapu (Struggle of the Rebel Territory), a guerrilla group, released a video on November 4 demanding the withdraw of military troops from their land. The video starts with the guerrillas greeting the indigenous Mapuche people and the masses of people resisting throughout the world. The guerrillas brandish weapons in the video and state that the military operation launched by the Chilean State is backed by imperialist powers who want to exploit the natural resources in the region. They affirm that the reactionary armed forces will be met and defeated by the “strength of the Mapuche people in arms.” The guerrillas also affirm their revolutionary commitment to armed actions and sabotage against the capitalists that destroy their land. The video ends with the guerrillas chanting slogans and firing their guns.
On November 5, the house, vehicles, and other property of Jorge Rathberg, the representative for the province of Malleco, were set on fire by the Mapuche peasant organization Coordination Arauco Malleco (CAM). Rathberg was formerly the governor of the Province of Malleco and Regional Ministerial Secretary for Agriculture of La Araucanía under President Sebastián Piñera. While fulfilling this role, he sold land off to forestry companies. After setting his property on fire, the peasants left a message reading, “Forestry companies, out of Mapuche territory! Military out! Our dead will be vindicated. Free the Mapuche Political Prisoners. We will win, ten times we will win!” The Territorial Resistance Body of Mangillwenu, one of the CAM’s armed detachments, signed the message.
Also on November 5, guerrillas from the CAM burned Hancock Forestry property in Los Rios, a city in southern Chile. The Territorial Resistance Body of Williche Millalikan carried out the action against Hancock Forestry. The company is a subsidiary of the Canadian corporation Manulife Financial and US group John Hancock Financial. Hancock possesses 62,000 hectares throughout southern Chile and southern Argentina.
Both actions carried out by CAM come after the Chilean military murdered Yordan Llempi Machacan, a 22-year-old Mapuche peasant. Hector Llaitul, a leader of the Coordination Arauco Malleco, stated, “whatever has to be burned will be burned,” in response to the murder.
Machacan was shot at point-blank range by a military officer on November 4. The military opened fire against Mapuche peasants claiming they were ambushed, but Llempi was shot outside of his house in front of his partner Danitza Herrera. The military prevented Llempi from receiving proper medical attention. When asked about the ambush Herrera stated, “That’s a lie, they started shooting, the road was blocked, it wasn’t an ambush by members of the Mapuche community, that’s it it’s a lie!”
In Lautaro on November 5, a shed belonging to the National Forestry Corporation was set on fire by Mapuche peasants. The old Chilean State manages the National Forestry Corporation and is responsible for creating national parks. The peasants denounce that the government uses this claim to appropriate their land. A message was left at the scene, affirming that the action was retaliation for the assassination of Llempi.
During the night of November 5, 30 peasants from Ercilla targetted a police station with stones. The peasants then built a barricade on a highway and set it on fire as the reactionary Chilean armed forces responded to disperse the peasants.
The Mapuche peasant rebellion forms part of the struggle waged by the Chilean masses who demand an end to exploitation and imperialist domination, and who are not accepting the electoral illusions and reformism pushed by the opportunists and reactionaries of the ruling class. In the recent November 21 elections, neither false socialist Gabriel Boric nor comprador candidate Jose Antonio Kast received a majority of votes to secure victory and are now going into a runoff. Whoever wins, either will take their place at the head of the genocidal government, which the Mapuche people will continue to fiercely resist with flames and bullets.
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