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.
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