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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.



by Claudia Andrea Aranda

Santiago de Chile, August 16, 2020