Autopsy reveals Mapuche activist hit in the shoulder by police bullet

By Pedro Cayuqueo – Temuko, Wallmapu – 14 / 08 / 2009

Postmortem examinations by Legal Medical Services in Angol have finally confirmed the claims made by members of the Requén Pillán Mapuche Community that Jaime Mendoza Collío was fatally struck by a bullet in the shoulder. This version had been serving as the principal working hypothesis for the PDI (Investigative Police) Homicide Brigade, entrusted with examining Mendoza’s body and producing the first expert reports in lieu of the facts. Reports and key testimony have undermined the police account of “legitimate defence”.

Postmortem examinations carried out by Angol´s Legal Medical Services finally confirmed the initial claims of the Mapuches from the Requén Pillán Community, who declared that Jaime Mendoza Collío, the young communal landowner who died last Wednesday from a bullet wound, was shot in the shoulder as he fled from police persecution. It has been revealed that this version of events was used as a working hypothesis by members of the Investigative Police’s,Homicide Brigade, entrusted with examining Mendoza’s body and producing the first expert reports in lieu of the facts.

According to informations, this reports, in addition to the failure to discover weapons in the area, has undermined the account of “legitimate defence” mentioned by the high command of the Carabineros (police) in defence of subofficial Patricio Jara Muñoz of the GOPE (Police Special Operations Group). The official, who fired the fatal shot while carrying out the eviction of the San Sebastián farm, today is under arrest in a police unit in the Mapuche Country. Jara was kept by order of Malleco’s military prosecutor, Rodrigo Vera Lama, who now has five days to decide whether to press charges for the crime of causing the death of Mendoza.

In addition, the newspaper El Austral has published a testimony from an eye-witness who claims that, from his property, he saw police forces firing on Mapuches, who, according to his account, were neither carrying arms nor wearing hoods. The witness also claims that the uniformed officers did not pay sufficient attention to the wounded Mapuche youth, as he lay for over an hour in the field where he finally died.

Sergio Cabrapán Millape, a smallhold communal landowner who witnessed the events, in his testimony he states: “I saw when the kids approached from the Sergio González farm, and that they were running away from the police who were firing at them”. In contrast to the official version of the Carabineros, the witness claimed that he saw one group of around eight Mapuche youths, who “came with sticks and boleadores,” while some fifteen Carabineros were firing from behind them. “My wife told me that one had been shot a while before and that none of the police went to see him, they looked at him from a distance,” he stated.

Rosende qualifies declarations

After being made aware of the new developments, the Under-Secretary for the Interior, Patricio Rosende, has qualified his initial support for the police action. “We are in a process of investigation, we will determine with precision the context in which the events have occurred,” he stated after meeting for nearly half an hour with the national prosecutor Sabas Chahuán. Rosende warned that “if it is determined that among the events there have been internal and institutional norms and rules that have not been respected, then we will apply the appropriate administrative measures and punitive sanctions.” In addition, he discounted the idea of implementing new measures in response to the latest mobilizations in the region.

Meanwhile, President Michelle Bachelet expressed her sorrow for the death of the young Mapuche and described the need for dialogue over the “legitimate demands” for the communities’ lands as essential. “Nothing justifies the use of violence in La Araucanía. And it must be understood that the only way to a solution to the legitimate historical demands of the Mapuche people is dialogue. We hope that the investigation moves forward and completely makes clear the facts, but I want to reiterate that nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies the use of violence,” she insisted, once again laying responsibility for the tragedy at the feet of the Mapuches communities.

Shortly after Bachelet’s remarks, La Moneda spokesperson Carolina Tohá announced that the Government will send a special delegation to the conflict zone, to “work on the ground with the people” and in so doing to “deepen” indigenous politics. “The task will be in the first place to insist on seeing that progress is made on our obligations. If there are situations where there are delays or difficulties, additional efforts will be made to overcome them,” said Tohá. She added that the purpose of the project is “to engage in dialogue and conversation with the communities, to see their faces and see how we are able to bring forward in full measure this policy and listen to any concerns.” She revealed that two of the members of the delegation will be the Presidential Commissioner for Indigenous Affairs, Rodrigo Egaña, and the Planning Minister Paula Quintana.

Mother demands justice

While the official version is gradually discredited by witnesses and the SML itself (Legal Medical Services), this morning in Angol relatives of Jaime Mendoza Collío, accompanied by around one hundred communal landowners and leaders of Mapuche organizations, collected the coffin and mortal remains of the youth from Legal Medical Services in the capital of Malleco, in a precinct located next to the city’s general cemetery. The dead youth´s mother, Rosa Collío, demanded justice from the authorities. “They killed him,” she said, blaming the Carabineros, and demanding that “the authorities administer justice for my son, who has a little child himself.” Later, there began a large funeral procession towards the Requén Pillán community, in Collipulli, where the body will be held in a vigil for three days in accordance with Mapuche tradition.

The bishop of Temuko, Monsignor Camilo Vial, has added his voice to the call of Mendoza’s mother, saying yesterday that “more police presence, more force and greater harshness” would not provide a solution to the Mapuche conflict, but would rather exacerbate the situation. “There are only a few places where violence exists, but when the political classes order more police presence, more force, greater harshness, with this we will not solve the problem but instead add more fuel to the fire,” declared Vial. “There is a death, there are wounded, there are breakdowns in trust and there is moral harm, and this blocks a solution to this problem which has dragged on for centuries.”

In the bishop’s opinion, “the first thing we have to do as Chilean people is to try to relate to the people with whom we are dealing with. We have not known how to live as two peoples in the same land, living together. Today, on the eve of the bicentenary of the Republic, it is important that every institution plays its part, encourages dialogue and works for an understanding between these two cultures.” Vial declared himself prepared to contribute to the search for a solution to the problem. “As a pastor of the Church that makes pilgrimages in La Araucanía, I know the Mapuche people, I defend their rights, I love and respect them very much, I value their culture very much, and they can always count on my support,” he declared.

Source: Azkintuwe


Translated by Alex Sharp
Mapuche International Link



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