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Juana Calfunao Paillalef, Community leader and human rights Defender; Her family members

August 20, 2004

Juana Calfunao Paillalef, a community leader from the Mapuche ethnic group, and her family, have suffered a campaign of intimidation, including the apparent murder of her uncle and an arson attack on her home.

On June 26, 2004, a fire started in her house which burned it to the ground. A charred body found after the fire was later identified as that of her uncle, Basilio Coñoenao, himself a community leader from the nearby community. Many in the community believe that he was killed elsewhere and his body left in the burning house.

For some days before the fire, cars from outside the community had been seen near the house at night, and Basilio Coñoenao and his nephew had received threats from landowners calling on the family to abandon their property. Basilio Coñoenao filed a complaint about this with the Regional Public Prosecutor (Fiscal Regional), but no progress has been made in the investigation of either the threats or the fire.

In July, Juana Calfunao Paillalef and her family were threatened and intimidated four times. Stones were thrown against their makeshift tin house and shots were fired in the air outside. They have reported this to the Carabineros (national police) in the town of Los Laureles, eight kilometres from Juan Paillalef. The authorities are not known to have ordered any investigation, or taken any measures to provide protection for the family.

In May 2000 Juana Calfunao Paillalef was imprisoned for three days. In custody she was beaten by Carabineros causing her to suffer a miscarriage. Again, no progress has been made in the investigation.


Letter written August 20, 2004 by Monique Pongracic-Speier, member of LRWC.


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