Liberty and Justice for Chief Juana Calfunao Paillalef

20th January 2006

Sample letter to be addressed to the President of Chile and/or copies send to the Chilean authorities listed below:

Sr. Ricardo Lagos
Presidente de la Republica
Santiago, Chile.
Fax: (+562) 690 40 20
E -mail:

Dear President Ricardo Lagos,

As a person committed to human rights, I wish to inform you of my deep concern at the continuing human rights violations being suffered by the Mapuche people. In particular I am concerned by the situation facing the Mapuche leader Lonko Juana Calfunao Paillalef, who is still in detention at the Temuco Women’s Centre for Penitentiary Enforcement and who has been on hunger strike since 10th January. Information received from various sources, and from the prisoner herself, give indication of the persecution, threats and attacks faced by the Lonko, as well as repeated arson attacks on her home. She has had to endure this situation during recent years without the necessary legal protection, leading her to take the drastic decision to endanger her own life.

According to the information available to me, on 21st December 2005 a police contingent composing special forces from Temuco and Los Laureles arrived at "Juan Paillalef" community, in the sector of Los Laureles, Cunco Comuna, IX Región del Wallmapu, to clear a private road blocked by Mapuche community members. These Mapuches were opposed to the expansion of the road that passes through the middle of their community. The members of the community are also demanding compliance with an indemnity payment from the Ministry of Public Works, promised when the road was first built. The police began to deploy tear-gas bombs at a smaller group of individuals taking part in the protest, and then went on to discharge firearms against the community members who were themselves unarmed. This resulted in the injuring of the horse that Lonko Calfunao was riding, and injuries to other community members.

On 23rd December, a police contingent of around 200 officers - according to the complaints - under orders from Cristian Alarcón, Captain of the 3rd Inspectorate of "Padre Las Casas", attacked "Juan Paillalef", community with tear gas bombs and bullets. According to the complaint, the police did not present the Mapuche leader with a clearance order as required by law, and, with extreme violence, proceeded to destroy the contents of Lonko Calfunao’s house, as well as brutally beating both her and her sister Ana Luisa. The two sisters were subsequently detained accused of “threatening duty police officers”.

The sisters were released on 24th December 2005, by order of Judge Luz Mónica Madariaga of the Rights Tribunal of Temuco, who took into account the various and evident injuries as presented by the Calfunao sisters. Furthermore, according to the information available, Judge Madariaga concluded that the process by which they were detained by the police in charge of the operation, was illegal and unreasonable.

Nevertheless, on 5th January 2006, at the request of the Public infrastucture Ministry, Lonko Calfunao was accused of an alleged “public order crime” and of “threats to police officers on duty”. The Public Prosecutor Alberto Chiffelle requested ''the preventative detention'' of Juana Calfunao, from the Juzgado de Garantía (Court) of Temuco alleging that ''her freedom was a danger to society”, after commenting in a racist way and in breach of any ethical or professional guidelines, that the Mapuche community was a "gang” and Lonko Calfunao its ''leader''. The Mapuche chief remains detained at the Temuco Women’s Centre for Penitentiary Enforcement and must appear, together with her sister Luisa, at the Tribunal in Temuco on 13th February 2006.

Lonko Calfunao’s house has been set alight on three occasions, and along with the various incidents we would like to highlight that the Chilean judicial system has ignored the appeals for justice from Lonko Calfunao, and the underlying abuses of power carried out by the police. It seems outrageous not to investigate, nor to sanction the police station no.2 of Temuco police officers responsible, who on 12th May 2000 tortured Lonko Calfunao and consequently caused her to have a miscarriage, and then accused her of “maltreating police officers on duty”.

We therefore request of the Chilean authorities:

For further information and photos of Lonko Calfunao, please click on the

Yours sincerely,


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals and/or copies in Spanish or your own language to:

Señor Luis Bates Hidalgo,
Ministro de Justicia,
Morandé 107,
Santiago Casilla 21,
Santiago, Chile.
Fax: 0056 2 695 45 58

Señor Ignacio Walker
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Fax: 0056 2 696 87 96

Señor Domingo Namuncura
Asesoría de Gestiones de la Presidencia
(Asuntos indígenas)
Fax: 0056 2 698 46 56

Señor Ricardo Patricio Celis Arraya
Intendente IX Región de La Araucania
Bulnes 590 piso 2, Temuco, Chile,
Fax: 0056 45 208 217


Back to top