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Chilean Medical Association says that Mapuche woman who gave birth while handcuffed was a victim of torture.

Lorenza Cayuhan

Lorenza Cayuhan

Lorenza Cayuhan Llebul, the Mapuche woman who gave birth to her daughter last Friday while handcuffed, was the object of acts “ consistent with the United Nations definition of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment”, confirmed a report made by the Chilean Medical Association.

The doctor Enrique Morales Castillo, of the Chilean Medical Association’s Department of Human Rights, together with the public administrator Rosa Villa Fernández and the INDH of Concepción’s Regional Chief Carolina Chang, went to the clinic where the 30-year-old woman could be found, to interview Lorenza Cayuhan, take record of the facts of the case and make up a report with recommendations to the authorities. The experts interview the Mapuche woman, detained since last September, according to the norms established by the so-called Istanbul Protocol, which sets out the procedures and international standards for the complication of information concerning torture and other degrading treatment.

Lorenza Cayuhan’s first person account was interrupted multiple times by the fragile emotional state in which she finds herself, because of the threat – that has now dissipated – of being separated from her child, and because of the effects of the degrading treatment that she endured during the entire process of labor, due to police staff members. A decision issued by the Court of Appeal in Concepción will allow the woman to remain with her newly born child in the Sanatorio Alemán Clinic.

Apparently, from the moment that the woman was taken out of prison in Arauco where she is serving her prison sentence, she either had chains around her ankles or was tied up to the stretcher on which she was transported due to her advanced stage of pregnancy. The police officers observed how she was unclothes for medical exams and one of her custodians entered the operating room where her Caesarean section was performed. “ There he was, looking the entire time”, the woman said.

The Chilean Medical Association’s report recommends that the acts, which Lorenza Cayuhan experienced, are investigated and cleared up by all of the institutions involved, at the judicial, ethical and human rights levels. The report adds that in accordance with the international treaties that protect indigenous peoples, the transgressions that this Mapuche woman, her newborn daughter and her family as well as her Mahuidanche community and the whole of the Mapuche People faced, “constitute an intolerable denigration“.

As far as the reports that follow, the INDH is requesting the tribunals that the Regional Hospital of Concepción submits the hospital’s clinical record in relation to Lorenza Cayuhan..

According to the INDH’s Regional Chief Carolina Chang, who has personally put forward this case, “the situation is sufficiently grave due to the threat against her dignity, against her reproductive rights, by having been a victim of obstetric violence as well as the threat against her integrity, by having been subjected to torture, due to the use of handcuffs being an exceptional measure which is not applicable to pregnant women”.

Chang confirms that in this case there has been a violation of the ILO Convention 169 – ratified by Chile – which establishes “that the family and community to which Cayuhan belongs should have been informed about the state of her health and should have participated in her labor in coherence with the Mapuche world view.

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The Revitalization of Mapuzungun

Date 21 October 2016
Time 16:00 -17:00  hrs.
Series Friday Afternoon Lectures
Lipsius Building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room 203


Mapuzungun is an indigenous language of South America, currently spoken in the southern-central states of Chile and parts of Argentina. Recent studies (see Gundermann et al., 2011) have revealed that Mapuzungun is becoming an increasingly endangered language in many parts of this area. Several factors are contributing to this development, for instance migration into cities due to massively reduced access to land.

Nowadays many young Mapuche are growing up in urban areas as the second or third generation, with only limited knowledge of their mother tongue, if any. Reacting to this drop in language knowledge, many Mapuche are implementing new ways to recover Mapuzungun. The turning point was the first Mapuzungun language camp which took place in 2015.

These Mapuche language camps (see are educational events that generate learning spaces and contextualize Mapuche knowledge through cultural immersion. Their primary goal is to create speakers of Mapuzungun as a response to the problem that is presented by the loss of the mother tongue. Besides revitalizing the language, another goal of the Mapuzungun language camps is to understand the Mapuche world view and to provide an idea of Mapuche religion. The language camps offer a possibility to actively reconstruct Mapuche history, feelings and understanding of the world that characterizes the Mapuche society.

In this talk I will show a documentary called ‘Zuguleaiñ – we will speak’ by Kelly Baur (trailer: about the first language camp, which also shows the history and ideas of young Mapuche who wish to reconnect with their linguistic and cultural heritage.

Alina Rodenkirchen (Mapuche Coordinator at the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) & Coordinator of the Mapuche Network in Germany

Published by the Team of Crónica Digital – April 13, 2016

Police on Mapuche Territory

Police on Mapuche Territory

Stresses peaceful means for a just outcome

As men and women of the Church that work in Mapuche territory we would like to express our sentiments concerning another escalation of violence in the territory. Our faith in Jesus, Our Savior, and the Kingdom of justice and peace moves us to speak:

1. We feel profoundly affective by what we call an increasing pressure on the Mapuche territory, which is producing violence, lack of communication, mistrust and polarization.
In much of the territories where we offer our services, we see that this pressure comes from a way of life that is based on consumption and whose paradigm is the monopoly of lands and extraction of resources.
We see this in the current territorial conflicts for water (hydroelectric power plants), for the land (lumber industry), for the sea (industrial fishing), and – gravely – in landfills and power cables. These current conflicts are all related with the industrial activities that make a manner of intervention that is threatening the life of the Mapuche communities.

2. We regret and reject the violent acts that this pressure on the ancestral territory of the Mapuche is causing; the militarization of the territory, the judicial persecution of many of the community’s men and women, the burning of homes, the people injured by “confrontations”, boys and girls affected by this climate of conflict, intimidation and threats; and as we have seen recently with the burning of Christian places of worship, the only thing that this does is polarize society to an even greater extent as well as make relations more tense. These types of acts only produce more distrust amongst local and regional cohabitants, which does not benefit anyone.

3. We regret this deep chasm in the community. National and local society is ever more polarized. The atmosphere between the government and the communities is increasingly antagonistic. The lines of communication are too weak, worn out or even cut. This mistrust has also become entrenched between people, groups and in many cases, between communities. It would appear to many that the solution is to impose one’s own interests at all costs, excluding those of the other and discarding the constructs of the plural society in which we live.

4. This antagonistic atmosphere will neither create peace nor justice. It is neither a Christian logic nor a democratic one. From a truly Christian point of view, we need to rescue trust and openness to one another. We need to sincerely search for the grace of reconciliation and recognition instead of vengeance and exclusion.

5. We recognize the violence of the innumerable abuses carried out against the Mapuche nation. But it is clear to us that the answer and the solution is not more violence, more fires, more police aggression. It worries us that the conflict continues to polarize to subsequently further extremes through intentional fires, shooting firearms, repression of the communities by police, arbitrary detention, physical harm to inhabitants and armed police forces, the violation of the rights of children and a long list of events that destroy the community. The path to the judicialization of the conflict by the Mapuche communities’ reclamations has been clearly disqualified as a way towards a solution, by the same judges and specialists on the subject. Criminalizing the demands of a community that is looking to recuperate their rights, which are recognized by international treaties, will not lead to a real solution. The country should take over the political character of the Mapuche community’s claims, recognizing them constitutionally and generating real spaces that guarantee their participation in decision-making with regard to the topics that affect them and which they are responsible for.

6. We regret how the Catholic Church, that has been involved with the cause of the rights of the Mapuche people, is ever more distant and quiet, incapable of mediation or interpellation in search of a dialogue for the construction of justice that brings true peace. It seems as if we have lost the prophetic strength of the Gospels with regard to the challenges of a plural and intercultural society in which the indigenous communities reclaim their place. It is clear that the perpetrators of the violence in la Araucanía are diverse, but we all carry the responsibilities and the consequences and each one according to their place in society. The Church, because of its own vocation and historical responsibility to the Mapuche community, cannot avoid the role that pertains to it in this work of contributing to understanding and the search for the common good in the Mapuche territory. It is enough to collect the teachings of the Church’s Social Doctrine to recognize the permanent violence among the Mapuche communities in la Araucanía. From the plunder of their lands to their political autonomy, the poverty and social segregation have gravely damaged the Mapuche nation. In the last decades the growing damage to nature and its creatures in the ancestral territory, promoted by a corporate elite that cannot contain its eagerness for profit, it has become the battleground against an economic model that looks to conquer and colonize the last ancestral spaces of the Mapuche people. Pope Francis made this clear in his Encyclical Laudato Si’.

7. We know that the Mapuche nation, increasingly aware of its rights, is not in favor of a violent solution, but nevertheless it will not accept the decades-long delay in the enjoyment of their territorial rights, cultural rights and rights of self-determination. How to achieve this? The governments have failed in succession. The document “Nuevo Trato” and its proposals did not achieve anything. This is an embarrassment considering that it was a document from the Chilean government and consisted of concrete proposals. Not to mention the successive “meetings to open dialogue” that the governments have failingly implemented in turn.

8. This path is not easy, but we must try to rebuild trust. It is clear that when a person has been hurt it is more difficult to speak of closeness, trust, reconciliation and peace. Yes, it is very difficult, but surely if we walk along the path of just reparation we can do it. This is hard, but not impossible. Slow, but not impossible.

9. We believe that there should be fundamental gestures to cement this trust. Two fundamental gestures taken by the State that could pave the way in order for “the word” to triumph over violence and can be the way to peace:

a) Restitution: Urging the State’s political power to concentrate in the restitution of the dispossessed lands and returning them to their sustainable productivity for the communities that have always lived in them and can claim their identity in them. So much energy and resources are wasted in looking for the perpetrators of violent acts instead of investing these resources in dialogue and a feasible way toward restitution.

The companies must be politically pressured to “give” or sell these lands. This implicates much audacity, because these companies have a lot of power; not only economically, but also politically, and they do not appear to see the effect of their avarice. Perhaps considering expropriation again as a last resort, as is proposed in “lnforme de la Comisión Verdad Histórica y Nuevo Trato con los Pueblos Indígenas”(pg. 577) given to the care of President Lagos (2003). These would be real steps toward a new treaty. This restitution should be the expression of forgiveness that we ask of the indigenous communities and all of those that have suffered the consequences of the occupation of Mapuche territory. We need to understand and say – to ourselves – that we have been mistaken; all of us, the State, the corporations, civil society and churches. We need to ask forgiveness for the evil that we have done by building a society that abused and continues to abuses the rights of the indigenous communities.

b) Reparation: This means redefining polices that promote profit when it comes to territory with another paradigm, one that is different to the economy based merely on extraction. We need to regain a view toward “our Common house” as Pope Francis invites us to do in his Encyclical Laudato Si’ and that the indigenous communities have been fighting for so long to maintain. It is not enough to have territories if the conditions of inequality are maintained and make it impossible to live on the land. For families and communities to truly choose what type of economy they want to have, it will be necessary to put in effort of great magnitude to offer alternatives sustainable products. Nutritional sovereignty is the right of the communities to produce their culturally adequate foods in a sustainable way, meaning, their right to choose their own nutritional and agricultural system. This consists in – at the very least – offering the same resources that have been given to the lumber industry to a sustainable agricultural model. Repairing the harm as much as possible will generate new possibilities for cohabitation; it is an act of justice that will bring peace.

10. These tremendous steps can allow us to come closer to one another and look at each other with trust. But it implies an enormous internal strength. To trust is to risk. It is about trusting and waiting for the result to be satisfactory for all and not for a few. This is about believing that without the other, however different they may be, it is not possible to construct a fraternal society.

Pedro Pablo Achondo SSCC, Rio Bueno
Javier Cardenas SSCC, La Unión
Juan Fuenzalida SJ, Tirua
Carlos Bresciani SJ, Tirua
David Soto SJ, Tirua
Oscar Gutierrez, Alto Biobio
Jaime Riquelme, Alto Biobio
Fernando Díaz svd, JUPIC Araucanía
Hernan Llancaleo, Coordinator of Pastoral Mapuche Concepción
Palmira Alcamán, CC de Vedruna, Padre Las Casas

Santiago de Chile, April 13, 2016
Crónica Digital


Translation: Mapuche Foundation FOLIL
Mapuche Foundation FOLIL