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In 2008 the machi files a report against Sociedad Palermo Ltd. for cutting down many native trees, in violation of Article 5 of the Forests Act (Ley 20283 of July 11th, 2008); in 2009 she obtains a favourable sentencing by the Temuco Court of Appeal, confirmed by the Supreme Court. This was the first application in Chile of the ILO Convention 169, which in its Article 13 states the duty of the State to respect lands, territories and spiritual codes of the so-defined ‘indigenous’ peoples.
The State’s retaliation comes quick: on January 4th, 2013, during the investigation into the Luchsinger-Mackay case (a married couple of large landowners perished in the fire of their house set by three unknown men), la Policía de Investigación (Investigative Police, PDI) carries out a search in the machi’s house, inflicting her the humiliation of being stripped by force of her traditional clothes. In the following trial, which sees her charged of illegal possession of fire weapons, the machi gets a 3-month nightly house arrest and a 10-month prohibition to leave the region; on October 14th, 2013, the Temuco Civil Court finds her not guilty.
On April 10th, 2014, the machi files a reparation request against Chile for moral damage and loss of income, that is for the economic, physical, psychological and spiritual consequences of a one-year-long judicial proceeding on groundless charges; in October 2015 the Temuco Civil Court sentences the State to pay a $30,000,000 indemnity, judging that the police forces acted «sin mediar respeto» (disregarding) the machi’s traditional authority status – an indemnity which has NOT BEEN PAID YET.
In spite of those acknowledgments by the judicial authorities, the persecution continues: the machi stays charged (together with 10 other persons) of terrorist fire setting with lethal consequences (incendio terrorista con resultado de muerte). The procurator (Fiscal) invokes, when instead he could avoid it, the s.c. “Ley Antiterrorista” (Anti-Terror Act, Ley 18314 of 1984), having as only evidence the key witness José Manuel Peralino Huinca, who later retracted and reported confessing only because he had received death threats and ill-treatment by the PDI.
On July 22nd, 2016, the Temuco Court of Appeal rules for the machi to go back to prison – this is the second preventive detention period she has been serving during the preliminary inquiry into the Luchsinger-Mackay case.
Machi Francisca is in poor health conditions: she is suffering from some chronic diseases, weighs now less than kg46/lb101, and cannot receive adequate medical care while in prison, though, according to the procurator, the Gendarmería (the Chilean prison authority) has a contingency plan to take care of this kind of needs. The needed therapies and food cost $150,000 per month, and the trip by rural transport to visit her at the Temuco Women Penitentiary costs at least $100,000 per month – and these expenses weigh completely on the machi’s family, that is not receiving any external support at the moment.
The machi was the only economic support for her own family.
Hilda Llanquinao, president of the Fundación Instituto Indígena (Indigenous Institute Foundation, FII), qualified the whole story as torture, and stated that the real terrorists are those who usurped the mapuche ancestral lands in the region, making profit of the s.c. “pacification of La Araucanía” – a shameful euphemism hiding the imperialistic genocide, even from a cultural point of view, of the mapuche people, perpetrated by the young Chilean State from 1861 to 1883.
It is not casual this fierce persecution by the Chilean State – without distinction between Pinochet and all the following ‘democratic’ governments, including Bachelet’s – against the mapuche traditional authorities, men and women acting as political (lonko) or spiritual (machi) guides, who since at least fifteen years have been giving their decisive contribution in raising the political awareness of the mapuche people and supporting their struggle for the recovery of their own ancestral culture and lands, against the exploitation of natural resources by multinational companies (energy, wood, fish…) as well as by national economic élites (bankrolled by the dictatorial regime, and still perfectly in the pink nowadays), against the devastation of many natural sacred sites of great, touching beauty.
Only some recent cases: machi MARÍA CLAUDINA ANCAMILLA, machi ADRIANA LONCOMILLA, machi FIDEL TRANAMIL, lonko LEONARDO CALFULEO, machi GUSTAVO CURILLAN, machi CRISTÓBAL TREMIHUAL LEMUI, machi CELESTINO SERAFÍN CÓRDOVA TRÁNSITO, machi ALVARO HUENCHUNAO, machi MILLARAY VIRGINIA HUICHALAF PRADINES, lonko VÍCTOR QUEIPUL. Lonko JUANA CALFUNAO PAILLALEF.
The Chilean institutions’ discriminatory behaviour is clear, and has been documented and reported by countless human rights NGOs from all over the world, including Amnesty International. We mention only:
- the very frequent violent raids into the mapuche communities, carried out without any judicial mandate by PID, Carabineros and the military, mercilessly affecting elderly and children: e.g. tear gas attacks by armoured vehicles to primary schools, teenagers wounded by hunting shots and often left without medical care in detention (see the emblematic case of LEONARDO EUSEBIO QUIJÓN PEREIRA);
- a racist, suppressive application of the preventive detention, in cases where it is not justified by a risk of escape of the defendant or alteration of evidence, and frequently applied to children. Such a measure, when applied to members of indigenous peoples, constitutes a violation of the ILO Convention 169 (of 1989, ratified by Chile in 2008), which in its Article 10.2 states the obligation to give preference to sanctions alternative to prison (this interpretation is in conformity with the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the American Convention on Human Rights). More importantly, this rule applies, all the more so, to those defendants who are still awaiting trial, and therefore are subject to the principle of presumptive innocence;
- a racist, suppressive application of the 1984 Anti-Terror Act, which is a legacy from the dictatorial regime.
For a machi, the damage he/she suffers from detention is even more severe, because of his/her connection, both psychic/physical and spiritual, with Ñuke Mapu, Mother Earth – indeed, it is a damage affecting whole groups of communities, which look to the machi for a guide, spiritual comfort, the celebration of religious ceremonies, and healing through traditional medicine.
«[…] The basis of this rule [Article 10.2 of the ILO Convention 169] is rooted in the fact that indigenous peoples hold a distinctive cosmovisión [vision of the universe] and live in harmony with their own customs and traditions, which makes detention a more severe punishment for them, considering the special relationship these peoples hold with their land and its natural resources, that they charge with a spiritual significance, and consider as an integrant part of their cultural identity.
The mapuche cosmic vision is deeply connected to the mapu [the ‘earth’, seen as the physical world], therefore to this people detention causes a deep eradication, a cultural destructuration, putting at risk their physical and emotional integrity. Besides, according to the mapuche cosmic vision, the machi acts as a mediator between their people and the spirits of nature (wenumapu), and his/her mediation ensures the community’s health, welfare, serenity and prosperity.
In her quality of mediator between the material and supernatural worlds, machi Francisca Linconao is a political and spiritual authority for her people, and therefore, uprooting her from her land comes as a hard blow for her, for her local community, for her whole people. That is the reason why, in her opinion and in that of her community, as well as of all the people who care for indigenous issues and the mapuche people’s claims, the current worsening of her health situation is to be seen in a direct connection with the preventive detention imposed on her by the Temuco Court of Appeal. […]» (“Declaración de LEASur ONG ante situación de the machi Francisca Linconao” [LEASur NGO’s declaration on machi Francisca Linconao’s situation], August 4th, 2016, www.mapuexpress.org/?p=10296 – translation, notes and underscores by EcoMapuche).
«[…] [T]he underdeveloped capitalist States have been persecuting, or folklorizing, the [women] Machi, and recently integrated them into their public health systems through ‘intercultural’ medical facilities, by emphasizing their healing role, re-functionalizing them, and ‘sterilizing’ them, with respect to the Machi’s own context and social and spiritual role in their territories. Chile is precisely the country where, in January 2013, the persecution of the not yet ‘sterilized’ Machis began, by harassing, suppressing and incarcerating them, in the new suppressive strategy implemented by Chile and its ruling class against those who represent an emblematic synthesis of land, newen [energy, strength], and the contact with our ancestor and with the spirits animating our land. That land which was usurped by blood and fire from 1861 on, parceled, militarily invaded, ransacked of its production means. In the land claim and self-determination processes, the machi regains her critical importance, as her main concerns are the land with its bio-diversity (itrofilmongen), and people and relationships, and therefore they reinforce such processes in the spiritual and political dimensions in which they act as a guide. […] [It is] a relationship based on the model of a ‘witch hunt’ in the style of the mediaeval Europe, with the Chilean courts playing the role of the Inquisition’s judges, and with the recourse, as the suppressive instrument par excellence, to the illegitimate 1984 Ley Antiterrorista (enacted by the dictature) […] [and] used with the exclusive aim of suppressing social protest and the mapuche claims through disproportioned anti-riot modalities. […]» (Andrés Cuyul, “La machi esterilizada o la nueva caza de brujas en el territorio mapuche” [The sterilized machi, or the new witch hunt in the mapuche territory], El Ciudadano, February 13th, 2013, www.elciudadano.cl/2013/02/13/63513/la-Machi-esterilizada-o-la-nueva-caza-de-brujas-en-el-territorio-mapuche/ – translation, notes and underscores by EcoMapuche).
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