Striker ends 112 days of fasting

Patricia Troncoso: "I am ending my hunger strike"

By Azkintuwe - Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Foto: Patricia Troncoso Robles

This Wednesday, Mapuche political prisoner Patricia Troncoso made official her decision to end the hunger strike that she maintained for 112 days to demand prison improvements, putting to rest the uncertainty which had surrounded her decision. Through a message put out by her spokeswoman, Sara Huenulaf, the woman thanked her supporters and justified the prolonged fast by the need to call attention to Mapuche claims.



Patricia Troncoso Robles

Agency Photo

CHILLÁN. "Today, January 30, 2008, I am ending my hunger strike, which lasted 112 days, obeying and believing in the role of the (Catholic) Church, for whose mediation we asked." With these words, Mapuche political prisoner Patricia Troncoso indicated, through a recording given to the press by her spokeswoman Sara Huenulaf, the end of the long protest she maintained until reaching an agreement for prison improvements with La Moneda this Monday, following the intervention of Archbishop Alejandro Goic as mediator.

Moments before her announcement, the Executive, through ministry spokesman Francisco Vidal, had considered the negotiations over. "The government has spoken this morning with Mr. Goic, who is guarantor of this agreement, and Goic has told us the agreement will take place. But along with this I want to say that the matter of the decision we made, of accepting Patricia Troncoso's request and relying completely on the mediator; for us it is a closed matter", he maintained.

With her strike, Troncoso said in her statement, "we overcame the pride and arrogance of the government and we generously left aside personal and petty interests for other, more united interests that will assure justice and liberty for all Mapuche and Chilean people, together impoverished and exploited by a predatory and inhumane economic model.

"I wish to make it clear," she added, "that the hunger strikes which have been carried out have no other purpose than to denounce the injustice to which we have yielded by demanding the right of the people to have land and autonomy; to denounce judges who did no respect due process; and to denounce the application of highly repressive laws, such as the antiterrorist law and the Law of the Interior Security of the State used by Pinochet in order to suppress."

Through the agreement reached with government authorities, Patricia will be moved during her recovery to Temuco Hospital , later to be sent to a Center of Education and Work (CET) in Angol. Likewise, beginning this March, she will be eligible for the Weekend Leave benefit, which will also apply to Jaime Marileo, while Juan Millalen will have Sunday leave. Her father, Roberto Troncoso, who had been apprised Monday about the end of the fast, was relieved. "My misery is over. My daughter is no longer on a hunger strike", he said, accompanied by the mother of Mat í as Catrileo, who is also at Chill á n Hospital .

It is not advisable to move Patricia to Temuco while her state of health is unstable, confirmed Gast ó n Rodr í guez, the doctor of the gendarmerie hospital unit. The decision, meanwhile, on the best time for her transport will be made together with the medical team that helps her. "We cannot give a diagnosis or projection at this time. We have to see her stabilize, and when we know that she is well, we will make the decision." He continued, "the process of reintroducing food upon completion of her fast will be slow and gradual as it is directly related to her tolerance; that is, if it is done too fast it could present a problem."

Governmental Strategy

After meeting with President Bachelet and the government ministry spokesman, Francisco Vidal, Minister of the Interior Edmundo P é rez Yoma said the case of the rebel will not set any precedent, but "this is a specific case, the Catholic Church has intervened and has asked us to have a special look into this matter and so we did and we are very happy". The minister stated that "the important thing is to see that we are confronting the problem in a manner that is comprehensive enough with the appointment of a presidential commissioner. This is not just about Patricia Troncoso, but the indigenous people of the country in general."

"The idea is to manage to have a comprehensive and better-developed policy, and I hope results can be seen in the coming days", he said to La Nación . For the head of the Interior, the main worry was the possibility of a fatal development due to "too many days on hunger strike". According to him, the Church's intervention "was fundamental, very crucial, and I believe it was very important to do as a sign of good will and reconciliation." Government sources recognized that an eventual death of Troncoso would have left La Moneda in the worst of scenarios, as Bachelet hopes to gain a seat on the UN Human Rights Council this April.

The key force of the step taken by the government was also denounced by the ex-sriker. "We do not believe in these supposed efforts the government makes in this way, because the wishes of the people always have been at the service of the expansion of forests, hydroelectric plants, airports, cellular towers, mining projects, plundering and exploitation of the environment, without considering if these put our small lands at risk and whether we keep our natural resources. We think these efforts aim to clean up the bad image of the government abroad", she stressed in her statement. / AZ

Source: Azkintuwe www.azkintuwe. org


Translated by: Jennifer Bovell
Mapuche International Link


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