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Content News

Declaration 18.10 – In response to the demand for the creation of “District 29” for Chileans abroad

In view of the campaign for the creation of District 29, promoted by several self-convened groups and organizations of Chileans abroad, and considering that a large part of our members are of Chilean origin, we declare the following:

  1. Our organization is not part of this campaign. However, our members are free to join individually if they wish to do so.
  2. We are aware of the diversity and the migratory status of our compatriots living in the international territory; therefore, we believe that District 29 will not be able to guarantee either the pluralistic or massive participation of Chilean nationals. It will only give way to a space utilized by partisan interests.
  3. Our mission is to work to guarantee that the rights of Chilean men and women who fight in Chile against an oppressive system are respected. In that sense, much remains to be done, in areas such as equal access to justice, the release of political prisoners and reparations for the thousands of victims of human rights violations.

Thus clarified, we ratify our objective to organize and provide support from abroad to organizations of human rights defenders, supporting the denunciation and international dissemination of human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the States of the South American peoples, with the ultimate aim of achieving justice, truth and reparation.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

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Content News

Declaration from the International Organization for Human Rights 18.10 – Chile, One year after the October Uprising

Our international organization in defense of human rights was born as an answer to the state violence unleashed in Chile since October 18, 2019. Unjustified violence against anyone who was exercising her or his legitimate right to peaceful demonstration in response to the ever more profound injustices imposed by the neoliberal capitalist system.

Our condition as Chileans living abroad made us relive one of the worst moments in the history of our country and the impact it had on the lives of thousands of Chileans.

The shadow of Pinochet’s civic-military dictatorship

Today is the first anniversary of the October unrest in Chile. In these twelve months, renowned international human rights organisations have published six reports certifying the veracity of the complaints received by human rights defenders and disseminated through social media.

Chile Despertó!

Our organisation – at that time the Human Rights Committee within a self-organised network of Chileans abroad – coordinated the visit of a delegation of MEPs from 28 October to collect complaints directly from student associations, human rights defenders, trade unions, environmental activists and professional bodies such as the Chilean Medical Association.

Report of the visit to Chile

In December 2019 and January 2020, we published two legal reports with updated data, to denounce that the systematic violence committed by state agents and the lack of procedural guarantees for the victims had not diminished. Thus, on January 22nd, we had the opportunity to intervene in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights:

In August – in the midst of the pandemic – we published a third legal report, this time much more specific to denounce the serious violations of the human rights of children and adolescents.

The global pandemic led the social movement to find new ways of mobilisation. And it laid bare the elements that underpinned the October 2019 Upheaval. The people were confronted with hunger and the denial of equality before the law for members of the Mapuche communities, political prisoners, workers, shanty town dwellers, students and environmental activists became evident.

And the response emerged with creativity, solidarity, anger, but at the same time with hope.

The organization of communal kitchens under the slogan “Only the people help the people” gave us the energy to reorganize, and to remember that the struggle for social justice continues with or without a pandemic.

Starting in May, the ancestral authority Machi Celestino Cordova, together with a group of political prisoners, carried out a hunger strike of more than 100 days to demand the application of ILO Convention 169 and for the modification of precautionary measures for the Mapuche and non-Mapuche political prisoners who have been charged, and the political prisoners of the social revolt.

The referendum that is supposed to change the constitution inherited from the civic-military dictatorship was rescheduled for 25 October.

We have yet to win what we are fighting for…

Repression at the hands of an increasingly violent and corrupt police force, which does not even respect its own protocols, trained with the collaboration of the US and European governments, and supported by the highest authorities of Piñera’s government, continues to leave victims in the face of the indifference of the international community.

Today, 18 October 2020, we reaffirm our work to support human rights defenders in Chilean territory and wallmapu. We will not stop knocking on doors to make the international community assume its political and historical responsibilities in the construction of a more just and united world.

Gabriel Gajardo

Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Articles 15 and 16 of the American Convention on Human Rights, guarantees the right of assembly and freedom of association, therefore going out into the streets to demonstrate and protest is a human right that cannot be restricted by Member States.

General comment No. 37 (2020) on the right of peaceful assembly (article 21)

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Background

Chile in Revolte

“Chile in Revolte” is the sequel to the documentary “Chile en llamas” by the Leipzig-based Chilean collective “Chile in flammen”. Based on various stories, this work shows the complexity of the political and social crisis that Chile is going through.

To support the work of “Chile in Flammen” the collective accepts donations through its gofundme campaign.

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Content News

New Report – Serious violations of the human rights of children in Chile

This report seeks to bring to light the vulnerability of children in Chile, analyzing the period from October 2019 to August 2020. The report was carried out by an interdisciplinary team and is mainly based on a review of official national and international written reports and documents, testimonies of children and adolescents, and journalistic investigations. All of the above ensures the reliability of this document, the contents of which are properly cited and attached in a transparent and clear manner.

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Content News

The Machi is Innocent

Machi Celestino Cordova, the spiritual authority of the Mapuche people, has been on a hunger strike for more than 105 days, demanding that the Chilean government of Sebastian Piñera allow the transfer of the location of where he is serving his sentence to his own community as well as for all Mapuche political prisoners. He is also demanding the release of all the Mapuche political prisoners who are on prolonged detention without bail – several of whom are also on hunger strike – as well as release of those on prolonged detention without bail who were arrested in the popular protests since October 2019. His demands are based on and in compliance with the ILO Convention 169, of which articles 8, 9 and 10 stipulate differentiated treatment for prisoners who are members of native peoples.

This film shows, once again, that Celestino Córdova is INNOCENT of the charges against him and that like many other Mapuche political prisoners, he was a victim of frame up, manipulation, prejudice and injustice, in the context of the racial persecution by the State of Chile and the usurpation of ancestral territory that its people have suffered for centuries.

No, the Mapuche are not guaranteed a fair trial in Chile, not only because of the widespread systemic and historical corruption in the Araucanía region, but also because of the specific effects from the application of the Chilean “Anti-Terrorism” Law, such as the use of witnesses with protected identity; prolonged secrecy of the investigation and inappropriate use of prolonged detention without bail. Other areas of concern regarding the right to a fair trial that are not directly related to the application of the “Anti-Terrorism” Law but are in a context of stigmatization against the Mapuche people include the harassment of witnesses and defenders and the use of evidence that has been reported as illegal, the allegations of which were not investigated.

A common thread running through all these violations of the right to a fair trial are the stereotypes evident in the decision of the prosecutors’ offices to classify the crime as “terrorist”, which not only violates the principle of the presumption of innocence, but is also the cause and result of structural discrimination against the Mapuche people.

THE STATE OF CHILE VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS

FREE THE MAPUCHE POLITICAL PRISONERS!

by Claudia Andrea Aranda

Santiago de Chile, August 16, 2020

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Content News

Public statement on the situation of the Mapuche people in Chile

International Human Rights Organization 18.10 expresses its concern about the political and social situation affecting the Mapuche people.
The serious and systematic violations of human rights, which involve violation of the right to demonstrate, arbitrary arrests, violation of the right not to be subjected to torture or physical violence of any kind, violation of the right to be tried by an impartial court, violence against Mapuche women and children, have been perpetrated since the time of the dictatorship.

The Mapuche community has been fighting for years for the respect of their right to remain on their ancestral lands, which have been unjustly usurped with the complicity of the Chilean State for the benefit of private individuals and multinationals.

The Chilean authorities, in particular the courts of justice, are completely unaware of ILO Convention 169, which was ratified in 2008 and came into force in 2009. Courts, judges, and the Public Ministry do not apply these regulations, and the same thing happens in the Executive and Legislative Branches, so it is the State that is not responding to the rights that should be guaranteed to indigenous peoples and, especially, to spiritual authorities.

As an organization that defends human rights, we believe that it is imminent that the international community will speak out against such injustices and challenge the government of Sebastián Piñera.

The Chilean State must respect the rights of the original peoples and the international covenants.

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Analysis Content

Chile: We will Live! We’ll be back! We will Win!

By Elizabeth Milos Rieloff
Photo by Javier Vergara (winning photo at the “Critics Choice Awards 2020”)

The Chilean people have been living very precariously in a relentless system for a long time: long work hours, minimum wage, job insecurity, crippling debt and poor health outcomes due to privatized education and healthcare, and retirement pensions that are one quarter the minimum wage. Neoliberalism transformed Chilean society into a consumerist, individualistic and “apolitical” world which many Chileans stubbornly endured but in October of 2019, Chile became very dangerous to the worldwide neoliberalist model.

Since the “transition to democracy” in 1990, the Mapuche continued fighting for their cultural, political and territorial rights against extractive industries which were sustained and defended by a succession of Chilean governments (both “socialist” and rightwing). The communities have continued to bear the brunt of state repression with incarceration, frame-ups, police killings, raids, military sieges, Pinochet-era Anti-Terrorism laws and mainstream media campaigns that depict the Mapuche as a “problem” group that doesn’t want “progress” for Chile. 

The other problematic sector for the successive post-dictatorship governments has been the student sector, especially the high school students, whom follow a long tradition of struggle against the privatization of education: in 2001 it was the “Mochilazo” (backpack protest), in 2005-06 it was the “Movimiento de los Pingüinos” (the movement of the Penguins, named after the appearance of their school uniforms) during which students carried out massive school occupations and started organizing political discussion assemblies regarding the educational situation in Chile. The university students joined in 2011 after which many of their main leaders became elected as the congressional representatives of this new generation. However, the judicial-legal state apparatus protected the privatized educational system and treated it as an “industry” instead of a right.

Then came October 18, 2019 and the rest of Chile woke up.

Initiated by high school students against a 30-peso metro rate hike, soon social media images of thousands jumping over turnstiles, getting arrested and beat up by police became viral. The cry was “It’s not 30 pesos, its 30 years!” Thirty years since “democracy” had come but also more than 30 years of an economic system that was wringing the life out of the population. More than 50% scrape by on minimum wage (US$426/month). Retirees from the privatized retirement plans (AFPs) only get US$125/month. The social upheaval became an immediate danger to the Pinera government because it was a self-organized revolt not led by any political party, which could’ve been brought into the political fold of quasi power. 

This self-organized movement had very notable characteristics: it was almost unanimously against any flags belonging to political parties and both Chilean and Mapuche flags were everywhere. It was a broad social movement, and the Mesa de Unidad Social (Social Unity roundtable, which did not claim to be speaking in the name of the entire movement) composed of leaders of unions, student, professional and feminist organizations came together to present a list of demands:  higher wages, job security, an end to the privatized retirement plans, and to privatized education and healthcare, a cancellation of all of the student debt, and of the transit toll debts (TAGS), an end to the privatization of water, and all of Chile’s natural resources, an end to the industrial sacrifice zones which leave people and the environment sick from dangerous pollution, and last but not least, to create a Constituent Assembly which would abolish Pinochet’s 1980 constitution, a major obstacle to meaningful change.

The social upheaval became like a giant tsunami and like the ocean, the waves of protests kept coming throughout the entire length of Chile. Pinera declared a State of Emergency calling the military to the streets, a new reality that up until now, only the Mapuche communities had suffered during these past 30 years. 

At the frontlines fighting the police and military were the “Primera Linea”, young men and women and even children, students, workers and youth from the poorest shantytowns, many of these brought up in the oppressive and sexually abusive Sename, Child Welfare Centers.  Medical students and nurses formed Medics Brigades to treat the injured. The millions that marched peacefully during Chile’s largest marches were protected by the Primera Linea, which literally blocked the police attacks by confronting the gigantic water cannons, armoured police vehicles with slingshots and rocks, neutralizing tear gas with traffic cones and water jugs. 

In November, Congress reached an agreement behind closed doors to hold a referendum on a new Constitution in April 2020. The referendum choice would be to either Approve or Reject a new constitution and if Approve, then two options would be available to draft this new constitution: A “mixed” convention composed of 50% members of Congress (from their respective political parties) and 50% independents or a Constitutional Convention (CC) composed of 100% independents. It was an agreement that didn’t include the Constituent Assembly option, which held more guarantees of true self determination.

Congress acted quickly to tie the hands of this future convention by passing a “reform” law that prohibited any decision regarding any other government entity (rendering the undemocratic Constitutional Tribunal untouchable) and keeping national assets like water (which is already privatized) and the Free Trade agreements (which also cover the privatized retirement system) beyond its scope. Youth under 21 couldn’t be elected as members to this convention, excluding the same high school age youth who had started Chile’s revolution. Negotiations continued regarding representation of Chile’s indigenous population and gender parity.

The government of Pinera quickly passed laws prohibiting wearing masks during protests, banned protests that blockaded streets or occupied schools imposing harsh 5-year sentences. It passed laws allowing the President to call the military to the streets to protect so-called “essential infrastructure” without having to declare a State of Emergency.

Each wave of protest was met with severe police repression costing dozens of lives and thousands of injured. The National Institute for Human Rights (INDH) kept an ongoing tally of cases denouncing torture and cruel treatment and sexual violence against men, women and children. The tally also started showing an alarming trend: police targeted protestors’ eyes with pellets and tear gas, literally blowing up people’s eyeballs. The Primera Linea, from behind their makeshift shields ingeniously used hundreds of laser pointers to try to prevent police from aiming their weapons against the protestors. 

Between October and March, more than 450 people had lost at least one eye and two people had lost both. It was the largest number of eye injuries during a social upheaval than in any other part of the world during the past 25 years combined. Though the number of people detained were estimated to be in the tens of thousands, the National Institute for Human Rights were able to visit at least 10,000 people in jails to verify the human rights violations. Between 2,500 and 5,000 are still awaiting trials in overcrowded, unsanitary Petri dish jails during a pandemic. Three international Human Rights organizations presented reports of systematic violations of human rights.

 March brought the half a million strong Women’s March and then news of the Corona virus began circulating. The government had been overplaying its preparedness level but as the number of infections and deaths increased worldwide, it took this opportunity to postpone the April referendum.

Throughout Chile, the same people and social organizations that had been protesting began making calls to stay inside and protect each other, even holding Cacerolazos (pots and pans protests) from home demanding a total quarantine.  Government response was abysmal, imposing only partial quarantines, a curfew creating more crowding for workers on public transportation, and also creating laws allowing corporations to lay off millions of workers, leaving them indigent in the middle of a pandemic. Meanwhile, hospital workers denounced lack of protective equipment and ventilators. Chile now has the highest new infection rate per 1 million inhabitants in the world. 

In May, Pinera finally ordered a shutdown of all of Santiago and other major cities, but this has caused a siege of hunger for the poorest sectors who can’t work from home and have no income. The neoliberal labor policies have unmasked the precarious situation of the workers under this system: no work contracts or permanent positions, just living day by day. 
Also, in May, Pinera began initiating legal mechanisms to release Pinochet ex-military/police prisoners, convicted of crimes against humanity, from their luxury jails using the pandemic excuse.

The latest dark chapter is the attempt to pass a new National Intelligence Law that places all other government functions under the Intelligence entities to monitor and punish political and social organizing.

The Mapuche in the south depend on selling their goods in vegetable markets to survive but police arrested Mapuche vegetable market sellers and destroyed their goods in Temuco. Hunger protests have erupted in districts like El Bosque, Villa Francia, La Legua, San Bernardo and Puente Alto.  Again, youth wearing masks and shields throw rocks at the newly purchased million-dollar police water cannons and armored police vehicles. Dozens of protesters have been arrested again.

Throughout Santiago, traditional soup kitchens have begun sprouting. It is the same soup kitchens that emerged in 1930 during the authoritarian regime of Coronel Carlos Ibanez del Campo (who organized the police force into Carabineros de Chile), and the same soup kitchens of the 1980s during the Pinochet dictatorship.

Pinera’s civilian dictatorship targets soup kitchens, raiding, arresting and destroying food. This hasn’t stopped the enormous solidarity among the most poor: the fishermen of Lebu donated 4 tons of fish to the poor neighbourhoods in La Pintana and El Bosque; the neighbours share what they have in their cupboards and in the territorial assemblies, those same ones that organized to discuss and create a new constitution from the bottom up have organized raffles and food pantries while the youth of the Primera Linea, covered in masks, gloves and protective clothing take food to the elderly and disabled.  In one social media video, a 15-year-old sharing food with neighbours explains that he works to support his little sister. The music in the background pleasantly surprises him and he begins to smile and chant to the song, “Con Todo Sino Pa’Que?” (“Give it your ALL, there’s nothing left to lose” which became the song of the Primera Linea since October 18th). Hashtags on social media and on the walls of Santiago promise, #ViveremosVolveremosVenceremos (We will Live, We’ll be back, We will Win).

(shorter version published in Taskforce on the Americas newsletter, May 2020)

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Analysis Content

Human Rights and a bit of political economy in times of pandemic

By Eugenio Bisama*
Photo by Carlos Candia Ayala

The two words in the concept of human rights never cease to attract my attention. Rights. Humans. The concept of rights is human: other than humans, no species, mountain, forest, or planet has developed a rights code. Rights belong to humans, no one else. Even those in the fifth generation.

At a time when a pandemic affects the planet, and we hear how for years scientists, and even politicians, have warned about how human presence “displace” other species and how, therefore, we could expect, for some time now “events” like this, rights continue to be human. We don’t even accept the possibility of “rights” of other species … or the planet.

How could we. For the dominant way of thinking, nature is a resource. We speak of “natural resources”. We speak of “development”, of “civilisation”, but in fact, we speak of human interests.

Those who govern in Brazil defend their right to burn forests to allow the development of agriculture. European citizens, who burned their own centuries ago,  speak of protecting them for the good of humanity. The native who lives in the forests migrates. Living beings of the forests die.
Not only in the forests, also in the sky and the sea.

More than a decade ago, the owners of capital found that they were paying workers in Europe and the U.S. too much and began moving their companies to Southeast Asia and, to a much lesser extent, to Latin America. The consequences were devastating for the workers of the North, their surroundings, and their families. To a lesser extent, the environmental movement managed to eradicate the most polluting industries from these countries… which likewise moved south. The generated waste was also exported to the south.

Logistics was developed. Displacement of goods and services grew exponentially. The price of the final product had and has, increasingly, lower production costs and more investment, distribution, and marketing costs. Maintaining growth requires, increasingly, more investment and more consumption. Those who lend money are those who earn the most. Things are made for one, two, or five years of shelf life. The debt remains. Those who lend money are those who earn the most.

Environmental studies indicate that CO2 began to increase exponentially after the industrial revolution. Subsequently, the horizontal and vertical displacements made it increase even more. The relocation of factories to the south (East Asia and Latin America) takes pollution to unprecedented levels, and traffic disrupts – increasingly -ecosystems which had not been affected.
The current pandemic has reduced this traffic to some extent, but still,
Those who lend money are those who earn the most.
Those who lend money are those who earn the most.
Those who lend money are those who earn the most.


* Eugenio Bisama is an academic at the Universidad Andrés Bello. Ph.D. in Economics and Business Management from the Universidad de Deusto (Spain), MBA from Tulane University (USA) and the Universidad de Chile, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

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Content News

Public Statement, Day #12

Temuco, Chile. May 15th, 2020

Mapuche Spiritual Leader, Machi Celestino Córdova, is on a hunger strike to demand the release of all Mapuche political prisoners. His health condition is worsening rapidly. His spokespersons have made the following statement on his behalf.

Public Statement:

To the international and national community, to the pu machi (Mapuche spiritual leaders), pu lonko (Mapuche Chiefs), to the communities in resistance, to the people who are not Mapuche who resist and struggle and to the entire Abya Yala, we communicate the following:

Even before this hunger strike, the Mapuche political prisoners in the Temuco prison had already denounced the fact that the government had only freed prisoners convicted of crimes against humanity (from the Pinochet regime), anti-Mapuche criminals like the ones who assassinated Camilo Catrillanca and the nefarious agents of the Huracan operation (a police operation that tried to frame Mapuche but which was eventually uncovered). The government used the excuse of the pandemic to release them.

Is the life of the Mapuche people not important?

This is very clearly a political decision to keep the Mapuche in jail even though they qualify for the necessary requirements to have access to the benefits of early release, in some of the cases to avoid the risk of contagion.

The Mapuche extends their demands for the government to release all of the prisoners living in a prison system that keeps people in overcrowded conditions throughout the entire country. The pandemic has become fixated on a global level.

From all the jails, voices are crying out for protection and help behind those walls.  This complex situation of the pandemic forces all to see the collapse of the prison system with the risk to the lives of all who are deprived of their freedom when a few days ago, a riot by prisoners of the Puente Alto jail in Santiago broke out. Yesterday, the prisoners in Colina 1 in the District of Colina also held a riot and after being brutally beaten were transferred to prisons far away from their families.

From the jails of Temuco and Angol, our dear Mapuche brothers who are political prisoners either awaiting trial or convicted are also on a hunger strike, asking that their right to life be protected under the conditions of the pandemic, and that the government respect and apply Articles 8,9 and 10 of the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The demands are concrete and JUST. It is Just to demand the rights as Indigenous First Nation people who are deprived of their freedom, according to the clearly specified provisions of Article 10 of the 169 Convention.  

A. Change the site where the sentence is completed and that this place be at home.
B. Change the way in which sentences of both Mapuche and non-Mapuche people are completed and that they be allowed to complete them in their communities or homes.
C. Change to the “preventive measures” (in jail awaiting trials) for all of the Mapuche political prisoners and all of the political prisoners from the social upheaval (of Oct 2018) who are being held awaiting trial.

The responsibility of both Gendarmeria (the military police in charge of managing the prisons and borders) and the government of Chile is very clear because they have known for many years that they should comply with the ILO Convention 169 statutes. Today, their responsibility is even more clear because they have failed to take measures to save the lives of all of the prisoners, nor are they capable of doing so. The government of Chile has the opportunity to show a political gesture in favor of the Mapuche people by respecting and complying with the 169 Convention, removing all of the obstacles by Gendarmeria, and free all those prisoners  who are still in jail, who are close to or have complied with all of the requirements that qualifies them to be released.

Today, the life of our Spiritual leader Machi Celestino Cordova is in their hands. This week his health has deteriorated significantly. His cardiac rate is 43 beats per minute, when the normal range is from 60-100; his weight is 85.7 kilos and has lost 9 kilos so far. He had a fever yesterday which today is under control. All of this points to the need for him to be released to his home, to be with his family, his community and his territory.

In addition to all of this, the health emergency of the pandemic has become more and more complex throughout the entire country. These are all sufficient reasons to demand that the government comply with our request.

We call on all of the territories of the Abya Yala, all of the communities in resistance, all of the organizations that struggle for the oppressed peoples, all of our pu lamngen of the lelfun to strongly demand:

Freedom for all the Mapuche Political Prisoners!

Freedom for all of the political prisoners of the social upheaval!

Freedom for all political prisoners!

No more repression and displacement of the territories in resistance!

Forestry companies, Mining companies and Hydroelectric companies must Leave the Mapuche territory!

Families, friends and Support Network of Machi Celestino Córdova

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Content News

The New Legal Report of our Human Rights Organisation

We have released the full 2nd report of our legal group.

Second Legal Report – DD. HH. 18.10

Released on January 2020