Message from Prince Philippe of Araucanía and Patagonia on the Mapuche Nation Day of Sovereignty

6th January - Mapuche Nation Day of Sovereignty.

Marri marri pu Lonko, pu Machi,
Marri marri pu Werken, pu Ngenpin,
Marri marri pu Weupife, pu Kona,

Marri marri kompuche

photo: Prince Philippe of Araucanía and Patagonia

It has not been my custom to address you on such a significant day as this for our Mapuche Nation, but the extremely grave events that we have to live through in Gulumapu force me to raise my voice.

On this date we commemorate the anniversary of the Killen Treaty of 1641, when Spain was forced to recognise our independence and establish the border between both nations, a border respected by the Mapuches until 1883, the date the armed struggle to maintain the territorial integrity of our country came to an end.

I do not intend on this occasion to comment in detail on the historical events that enabled the Mapuche Nation to ensure this achievement, without parallels in the history of Latinamerica, but only to highlight that it was the result of one hundred years of dignified resistance from a nation that refused to accept oppression and to live on its knees.


Image: Prince Philippe of Araucanía and Patagonia
Foto: MIL archive

It is this historic past, in which I repeatedly crown the armies of our nation with victories, which forged not only the pride of being Mapuche, but also national unity and the sense of belonging to Araucanía, as it was felt in Wallmapu, the ancestral land of the Mapuche nation. It is this historic past that today inspires and strengthens the defenders of the sovereign rights of our nation.

As it is widely known, the Mapuche struggle for the recovery of its land, the defence of its natural resources, the demand to take part in decision making regarding projects undertaken on its land, as well as the fight against environmental destruction are all justifiable claims based on solid foundations that deserve the support of everyone with a social conscience and sense of justice. However, as we know, these demands have been criminalized by the Chilean state, which has resulted in an uncontrolled and irrational repression in which men, women, the elderly and children have all been victims. These incidents have been widely documented by both national and international human rights organisations and denounced in thousands of pages from the Mapuche and social bodies from all over the world

The assassination of Matías Valentín Catrileo Quezada on the 3rd January 2008, once again demonstrates his bravery, the power of the Chilean state and the life of the Mapuche. At a peaceful protest to recover land usurped by the businessman Jorge Luchsinger but belonging to Mapuche communities in Yupeco, the police, always mindful of defending businessmen and landowners, opened fire, with machine guns, on the community as they were retreating, mortally wounding the young man in the back. I would like to express my most heartfelt condolences to the family, the affected community and to the Mapuche nation in general.

The Royal House joins in with the calls for the Civil Justice to investigate the death of our peñi and justifies its position of distrust towards the office of the public prosecutor, who will surely seek to find a way of absolving those guilty of such a vile and cowardly assassination of all responsibility. We must also not forget the assassination of young Alex Lemun. The verdict, reached by the military, was to absolve the head of the riflemen, Marcos Treuer of all responsibility. This is only one example of Chilean justice, whereby judicial blackmail, in order to absolve those guilty of attacks against the mapuche, whilst finding innocent mapuche guilty, is the normal practice of the state ruled by law in Chile.

Our thanks go to the bishops of Araucanía, Monseñores Camilo Vial y Sixto Parzinger for their participation in discussions between the mapuche and the Chilean authorities and for their solidarity in these bitter times for the mapuche, who ,as in the past, suffer from the despotism of a government that has decided to criminalize the justifiable claims of mapuche communities in territorial conflict and refuses to find a political solution.

It is of public knowledge that in the Chile of today, mapuche political prisoners have never been able to count on fair trials. Under anti-terrorist law or common law, when sentenced by a military court or criminal court, one is presumed innocent. However for detained mapuches this presumption of innocence is replaced by that of being presumed guilty. Any suspicion or accusation against a mapuche leader means immediate detention for as long as the investigation takes. This could be up to a year before sentence is passed. For those affected there is no compensation or damages of any kind for either injury or trauma suffered.

In 'democratic' Chile, racism and discrimination against detained mapuches is the order of the day. Those detained have no guarantee of mental or physical security because their status as political prisoners is not recognised. They are confined, without any discretion, together with common criminals where they are attacked on account of their being mapuche. This has resulted in a number of attacks, those on Luisa Calfunao and Ernesto Lincopan to name only two. Neither should we forget the mapuche political prisoner Julio Huentecura, killed by the inmates of the high security prison in Santiago. Similarly, Lonko Juana Calfunao, currently detained in a Temuco prison, an appeal for protection was rejected by 'The Court of Oral Judgement' in Temuco on 14th December 2007 which once again shows how much the Chilean government holds the lives of mapuche political prisoners in contempt . Governmental repression is also extended towards minors, as in the case of 17 year old José Gavarino Lepicheo, whose detention contravenes his internationally recognised rights.

The injustice of convictions, racism and discrimination have pushed Patricia Troncoso to a state of desperation and to consider giving up her own life, having received promises which like last year have not been granted. She has not even obtained the minimum concessions and in spite of serving more than 5 of her 10 year sentence and her good behaviour, has not been granted prison benefits laid down in law. Today she is fighting for life on serum, which only prolongs her agony. We pay a tribute to Patricia and all those that over the last few years have gone on four long hunger strikes - models of dignity, courage and moral strength that prick the conscience of their prison warders. However, I beg Patricia not to sacrifice her life. The mapuche nation needs women of such calibre and dignity alive in order to continue to contribute to the fight for a better tomorrow.

This panorama of total helplessness that the mapuche political prisoners face has led to the longest hunger strike in Chilean history. Begun on October 10th by 5 mapuche patriots, it is precisely the strength that emerges from our glorious past and the dignity of the mapuche nation that both motivates them and their convictions of the justice of their fight. We regret the narrow-mindedness and myopia of the Chilean authorities that when faced with the just demands of mapuche leaders and authorities only respond with political and legal repression. It is a situation that only increases mobilisation, radicalisation and the urge to question the state ruled by law, the role of the security services and their loyalty to the Chilean state.

The destruction of some heavy-goods vehicles in the last few weeks, associated with or belonging to forestry companies, by unidentified groups supporting the fight against the usurpation of our land and the destruction of the environment, is the result of the criminalisation of a peaceful protest and the uselessness of Chilean justice. The Chilean government is responsible for this new phase of the mapuche struggle and by closing all the doors possible to an acceptable solution to genuine mapuche claims have applied anti-terrorist laws introduced during the Pinochet dictatorship.

To recover political and territorial autonomy is imperative.

As we have established before, the mapuche conflict is not only a problem of land and poverty, but also of territory and self-determination. In other words, it is a political and historical problem that began with the military occupation of Araucanía by the state of Chile, with the cost of tens of thousands of mapuche lives, the theft of 95% of their territory and political submission to the Chilean political class.

We firmly believe in and support the creation of an autonomous Mapuche Parliament with the main objective being to strengthen forms of participation in the economic, political and social arenas. This parliament will be able to introduce bills that will allow new mechanisms and procedures for autonomous and representative participation of the mapuche nation in both society and the state.

This right is inherent in our nation, recognised by some 30 international treaties, numerous UN documents and in a UN declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Populations of 13th September 2007, which was supported by the Chilean government. Only in this way can we speed up the recognition of the rights and the protection of indigenous people. Until now, the Chilean parliament has been incapable of legislating in accordance with international standards. The much expected ratification of the ILO Convention No. 169 has still not been crystallised and so constitutional reform and community laws have not prospered. As a result of the usurpation of territories and the lack of an economic development initiative within mapuche communities, an enormous emigration to the big cities has been the only way to survive. In these times of hardship, we must unite to confront the multiple attacks our nation suffers daily. Our history testifies that when confronted by strong aggression, our nation can rise up as one to win.

We are the sons and daughters of Leftraru, Kalfulikan, Fresia, Pelentraru, Janequeo, Kilapan, Kalfucura and thousands of others, celebrated or anonymous, who in a united front, gave their blood to achieve rights for our nation. Sacred and inalienable rights that our nation should never renounce. Today as the whole world looks upon the development of the mapuche conflict with unease, we must be worthy of our ancestry. We are unanimous in paying respect to ourselves and to our national rights!



Prince of Araucanía and Patagonia
Paris, 6th January 2008


Translated from Spanish by: Pete Wham

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