Since October 2013 in occupied Wallmapu, a judicial crusade has developed against mapuche comuneros which as of december has condemned four youths to draconian sentences in two trials in the court of Angol.
In the beginning of October, Fernando Millacheo Marin was sentenced to 15 years and a day for repeated robbery with intimidation; Cristian Pablo Levinao Melinao to ten years and a day for robbery with intimidation, while Guido Bahamondes Gallardo was acquitted. On December 5th, another three youths were sentenced in Angol for similar charges in the case of the death of landowner Héctor Gallardo Aillapán.
But the processes don’t stop here, as at least two other trials are scheduled against comuneros in the rest of December: against the werkén Daniel Melinao, to begin monday the 16th, and in Lautaro, against comuneros of Lof Muko and Yeupeko Catrileo, on the 19th. In addition, they will soon fix a date in the case of the Machi Celestino Córdova, preparations for which have culminated in Temuco.
Daniel Melinao accused as “coauthor” of the death of corporal Hugo Albornoz
In April 2012 during a violent raid on the community of Wente Winkul Mapu, a seargant of the GOPE, Hugo Albornoz, was fatally injured. According to the women and elderly who resisted the police brutality of general Bezmalinovic for the umpteenth time, on that day several pickets of strongly armed police entered from different points into the small mapuche community in the valley of, shooting at anything that moved.
They say it was several times that the pickets entered and went through the community, going into houses and attacking everyone without discriminating whether they were young or old, man or woman.
Almost all the men were gone from the community when the police contingent was seen coming and several leaders had left early for the city. It is in this context that Corporal Albornoz was injured on the patio of one of the modest houses of Wente Winkul Mapu.
Police immediately removed him and later returned to the site to clean the area, and remove shell casings and all traces of the incident.
The media of the Chilean police institution declared that Corporal Albornoz had been injured in an ambush by unknown perpetrators on the public road that leads to the community.
They could not, however, clean up all the blood that the injured policeman lost, and the later expertise of the Investigational Police confirmed what the comuneros had said.
The treacherous raid where Corporal Albornoz died was not the first nor the last of the boorish attacks lead by Iván Bezmalinovic against Wente Winkul Mapu. There was so much extreme cruelty by the police against this community that the Supreme Court, on at least two occasions, had to explicitly order the police to especially respect the children and comply with legal procedure in their raids.
It is in this context, after more than a year of investigation and oddly without arriving at any result, that there emerged as a kind of divine revelation received by antimapuche prosecutor Luis Chamorro the imputation of “coauthor” of werkén Daniel Melinao in Albornoz’s death, the most public of the comuneros of Wente Winkul Mapu. And although no more is wielded against him than an elaborate interpretation of an equally elaborate telephonic know-how of Daniel’s cell phone, which would place him in the vicinity of the community that day, the antimapuche judicial enclave of Angol has kept him in jail for almost eight months to date.
On Monday the 16th begins the oral trial where the werkén is accused and, although without much expectation, we hope that during the proceeding the truth can come to light and he will be proven innocent.
The case of Machi Celestino Córdova
The case of Machi Córdova, the only defendant in the death of the Luchsinger-Mackay couple, is another case in which arrogance and a treacherous use of power seeks to imprison a comunero with no more evidence than the investigative team being “convinced” and the equal agreement of the biased judge about the participation of the mapuche religious authority in the act which culminated in the death of a settler couple.
The lack of proof in this case does not only make evident the ineptitude of the prosecutors, but also highlights the degree of underlying racial prejudice, not only in the chilean judicial system, but in all the state apparatus that maintains the occupation of Wallmapu since almost 150 years ago.
Piñera’s promise to his corporate peers:
President Sebastián Piñera entered office with the promise of taking a strong stance in the chilean-mapuche conflict and ending crime. At the end of his term, he has not been able to keep his word, but he has intensified his criticism and his pressure on the Judicial Power to get high penalties and lower probatory standards in mapuche cases.
After the electoral debacle of the right (and even before), Piñera has insisted on demonstrating a position of toughness, which leaves a suitable setting for getting convictions in emblematic cases. On the other hand, the new administration which will be installed in march will not want to take over the legal burden that looms, even from prior to the current government.
Scenario for conviction
This leaves for the period of november-march a favorable scenario to convict mapuche comuneros with little or no evidence. We add to that that in Malleco, and in general throughout the region, there seems to be a species of antimapuche enclaves within the Judicial Power, principally in Angol, where the Supreme Court has repeatedly voided trials in which mapuche had been given very high sentences in the first instance. This is corroborated in cases like those of the comuneros of Wente Winkul Mapu, in which, upon appeals to the Supreme Court, they have been acquitted, or in the case of slain Rodrigo Melinao, absolved after death.
Kids who believed in chilean justice are convicted without evidence
The most recent of these cases is that of the youths Luis Marileo, Leonardo Quijón and Gabriel Valenzuela, knowing that they were accused of the death of landowner Héctor Gallardo voluntarily surrendered to the courts to demonstrate their innocence, but were convicted in spite of a shortage of evidence and the obvious contradictions in that which there was.
This most recent conviction is a clear example of the chilean judicial apartheid in Wallmapu, where the justice system is used as one more tool in the political prosecution of mapuche citizens.
For mapuche youth and for all the citizens of Wallmapu, this is a very clear message that to trust in chilean justice is a grave error which can be costly and which is the reason for those who bravely resist in clandestinity.