Chile’s Supreme Court rejects striking Mapuche leader serving his sentence at home

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Santiago de Chile, Aug 13 (EFE) .- The Supreme Court of Chile rejected this Thursday that the Mapuche leader Celestino Córdova, on a hunger strike for more than 100 days, serves part of his sentence under house arrest, a decision that comes when the conflict with this indigenous people is in full escalation.

The Judiciary reported on its Twitter account that the highest court ruled that the “machi” (spiritual guide) is already close to his community and rejected by four votes to one that “the deprivation of liberty that affects the protected person is framed in any of the hypotheses of illegality “.

Admitted since mid-July due to his delicate state of health in a hospital in the city of Temuco, in the southern region of La Araucanía, Córdova began a hunger strike 102 days ago to ask to spend six months at home while the pandemic lasts and renew your “rewe” or spiritual energy.

The machi, who already enjoyed that permit for a few hours in July 2018, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the fire that in 2013 killed the elderly couple Luchsinger-Mackay farmers in La Araucanía.

In an audio broadcast by local media, Córdova warned on Tuesday that he would begin a dry hunger strike if the Supreme Court rejected his request and assured that he was prepared to “give his life” for his people.

In La Araucanía and other regions of southern Chile, the so-called “Mapuche conflict” has existed for decades, which confronts indigenous communities with agricultural and forestry companies that exploit lands considered ancestral.

In recent weeks the conflict has increased in intensity, especially since the beginning of the hunger strike in Córdova and another twenty Mapuche prisoners, with occupations of municipal buildings and violent evictions, racist shouts against the indigenous people, burning of trucks and machinery, road blocks and marches that end in confrontations.

The Chilean government, which has held negotiations in recent days with community leaders, rejects that the condemned are “political prisoners” and assures that it will do “everything possible to preserve and protect the life” of those detained on hunger strike.

The country’s president, the conservative Sebastián Piñera, presented a bill on Thursday that toughens the penalties for burning trucks and that considers life imprisonment in the event of fatalities.

“Without a doubt, we should have had this law long before, and that is why I want to make a call for us to be more alert, more attentive in everything that will allow us to better protect the health and life of our compatriots,” said Piñera .

According to figures from the last census, the Mapuches are the largest indigenous people in Chile and represent close to 10% of the population.

Among the historical demands of the Mapuches are greater representation in Parliament and the creation of an Indigenous Ministry, as well as the recovery of ancestral lands and the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples.

(c) EFE Agency

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