It is time for the trial of racism against the Mapuche people; Gloria Naveillan could be stripped of her parliamentary immunity

In Chile, Law 20609 condemns discrimination, whether based on race, ethnicity or gender identity, but this law has not been widely applied or presented as an argument, let alone responded to the victims’ need for justice. In the case of the Mapuche people, discrimination and racism have repeatedly manifested themselves either at the structural level, through the judicial or economic system, among others, or at the symbolic level, through daily acts and hate speech. In the past, although deemed racist, these acts have not been condemned or even identified as such. This situation may be about to change as a Chilean state deputy, Gloria Naveillan, accused of uttering serious slander against a Mapuche Werken, Adán Huentecol, may be about to lose her parliamentary privilege, allowing her to be judged on the stipulated fee.

The Mapuche people are an indigenous people living in the south of what is now called Chile and Argentina. Since the formation of these states, the occupation of Mapuche territory on both sides of the Andes has served as a pretext to implement policies aimed at their physical, cultural and spiritual extermination. Invisibilization, loss of language, denial of autonomy, imprisonment and murder are just some of the genocidal strategies used. One of the most frequent and explicit has been the usurpation of their lands, an element that intertwines their worldview and their daily lives. In the struggle for the restitution of territories, many Mapuche communities have resorted to the recovery of their lands, which has been strongly condemned and repressed.

In areas of strong territorial claims and organization of Mapuche communities, the counterattack of Chilean or foreign landowners who do not want to lose the privilege of their occupied lands is latent and takes different forms. Organizations such as the Association for Peace and Reconciliation in Araucania (APRA), which claims to unite the victims of Mapuche violence, in fact provoke violence against the Mapuche people, intervening in the processes of self-determination to the detriment of disarticulation of communities, calling for violence and even taking part in fake news to spread their racist discourse.

One of the leaders of this organization, Gloria Naivellan, former member of the Republican Party and now deputy for Araucania, is accused of “serious slander and defamation” by the Werken (Mapuche authority) Adan Huentecol and his lawyer. Isabelle Figueroa. The deputy, before taking office, publicly accused the Werken of having made threats against the logging contractor Gerardo Cerda and of being responsible for the burning of machinery on his land. In her statements, she also urged that the Mapuche authority be prosecuted. After being charged with the above offence, she appealed to her parliamentary privilege to have the charge against her dismissed, despite the fact that the events occurred before she was elected to her seat in the House. . The appeal filed by Naivillan’s defense was not upheld by the court.

The history of Ms Naivillan’s racist actions goes back not only to this false accusation against Werken Huentecol, but to other actions as well. One of the significant events concerning her directly occurred in the early hours of August 1 and 2, 2019, when anti-Mapuche citizens were summoned to the municipal offices of Curacautín, Lonquimay, Victoria, Traiguén, Galvarino and Collipulli, in the region of Araucania (an area with a large Mapuche population) to expel members of the communities who “occupied” the offices in support of political prisoners on hunger strike for three months, with sticks and other blunt objects. The peaceful demonstrators were violently chased away by the police, the army and the civilians who responded to the call of the leader of the APRA.

Werken Rodrigo Curipan told Kurruf radio that this type of defamation by state officials or members of the Chilean political class is not something new in relation to the Mapuche people, but rather a daily practice that occurs continues since the beginning of the invasion of their territories. Werken Curipan said: “If we look at history, many other political figures have made careers out of controversial events in the Mapuche region…they use slander or the use of supposed victims to make people believe that the Mapuche are a problem for Chilean institutions. Werkén Huentecol added that these actions only aim to slow down the process of territorial recovery and autonomy of the Mapuche communities. With regard to MP Naivillan, both agreed that people like her have made their careers on unsubstantiated accusations that incite hatred towards the Mapuche people.

The situation in which Werken Adan Huentecol was put by Naveillan could have had fatal consequences, if he had been persecuted by sympathetic civilians of the anti-Mapuche cause because of these remarks. Without going any further, Werken Curipan also told Radio Kurruf that in this case “there were political and criminal persecutions against him (Huentecol)” and that his personal, family and community life was strongly affected.

Chile is a signatory to the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which condemns “practices of segregation and discrimination”, prohibits racism and discrimination and guarantees that signatory states undertake to “not engage in any act or practice”. racial discrimination against persons or groups of persons”. The state must ensure that its citizens and especially government officials do not engage in violations of this convention. The 2019 hate speech case had no legal consequences for those who promoted it. It is to be hoped that in the case of the insults and slanders against the Mapuche authority Adan Huentecol, it will be possible to demonstrate that the fascist acts and blows will not go unnoticed in the country, that on the contrary, they will find justice and reparation. The trial of the current deputy Naveillan would be a step towards demonstrating political will against racism and, at the very least, a sign that the Chilean state respects its own laws.

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