Santiago, Dec 27 (EFE).- Santiago’s Mapuche community on Monday delivered a letter to La Moneda palace – the seat of the government – in which they asked for the resignation of Chile’s interior minister as the top political official in the fatal police shooting of an indigenous man.
Representatives of the Mapuche Coordination of Santiago submitted the letter addressed to President Sebastian Piñera in which they demanded an end to the Chilean state’s “repressive policy” against the Mapuche people, the country’s largest indigenous group.
“We come to demand that you, as president of the republic, assume your political responsibility and announce the immediate resignation of the interior minister, Andres Chadwick, for his responsibility in the murder of Camilo Catrillanca at the hands of Carabineros (Chile’s militarized national police),” the document reads.
Camilo Catrillanca died on Nov. 14 after being shot in the back of the neck – some would say “execution style” – while traveling on a tractor with a 15-year-old boy in the southern community of Temucuicui during a police operation to apprehend alleged car thieves.
Ricardo Inalef, the spokesperson for the Mapuche Coordination of Santiago, told EFE that delivering the letter is one of the activities that the Mapuche community will carry out on the national level as part of a 48-hour mobilization beginning on Thursday in response to a call from the dead man’s family.
Regarding Piñera’s announcement to withdraw the Carabineros special operations team from the area, Inalef said that the contingent deployed in the Mapuche heartland in the southern part of the Araucania region is still there.
“It remains with all its equipment, with tanks, helicopters and the weapons that have been moved to that area to intimidate our communities,” he said.
During the police mobilization, Mapuches have set up burning roadblocks in Araucania.
Catrillanca’s killing has resulted in the dismissal of Carabineros commander Hermes Soto and in the arrest of the four officers who participated in the incident and who are in custody while the investigation proceeds.
In recent years, the conflict in Araucania has led to outbreaks of violence in which a score of people have died – including Mapuches, police and settlers – while several dozen Mapuches have been convicted and sentenced for various crimes.
The 650,000-strong Mapuche nation demands constitutional recognition of its identity, rights and culture, as well as legal title to their traditional territory, largely snatched away in the late 19th-century during an “extermination” campaign in Araucania.