Chile: All Mapuche Prisoners End Hunger Strike

A general hunger strike by Mapuche prisoners prosecuted under Chile's anti-terrorism law reached its final closure today.

As Global Voices informed earlier, most prisoners ended their protest on October 2, but prisoners in the cities of Angol, Victoria and Cholchol had continued. Late on October 8, prisoners in Angol and Victoria put an end to their hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the government. Today, a Mapuche youth on hunger strike inside a youth detention center in Cholchol also ended the strike [es], thus ending the general strike completely.

Mapuche flag. Image by Flickr user Donmatas1 used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License

As usual, Twitter was a forum for emotions to be shared. Some thought the end of the strike was good [es], while others also hoped for a future with less discrimination [es]. Iglesia Joven (Young Church) (@pjantofagasta) expressed its joy for the news [es]:

Felices x fin total de huelga de hambre mapuche, damos gracias a dios por la vida d los comuneros mapuche, rezamos y trabajamo x soluciones

Happy for the total end of the Mapuche hunger strike. We give thanks to God for the lives of the Mapuche “comuneros”, pray and work for solutions. [In Spanish, the word “comuneros” means “community members.” In Chile, the word “comuneros” is widely used to refer to members of Mapuche communities specifically. Hence, people refer to the prisoners on hunger strike also as the “comuneros” on hunger strike.]

Miguel J. Pedreros (@mjpedreros) felt happy but expressed doubts about the promises of President Piñera's government [es]: Fin total de huelga de hambre mapuche. Piñera promete mucho (cambiar la historia de negacion a mapuches) ojala cumpla Total end to the Mapuche hunger strike. Piñera promises a lot (to change the history of negotiations with the Mapuche). I hope he fulfills that promise.

Partido Igualdad [es] (Equality Party) informed more about the end of the strike [es]:

“Si bien es cierto se ha llegado a un acuerdo, no es totalmente satisfactorio para nuestros hermanos. Desde un principio dejamos claro que no eran suficientes las demandas, pero claramente aquí se tomaron consideraciones de carácter humanitario y el avance en varios puntos”, expuso el werken Jorge Huenchullán. Finalizó adelantando que “consideramos que algunos gestos que hizo el Gobierno, como liberar a algunos comuneros, daba para bajar la huelga de hambre. Continúa la mesa de diálogo para tratar otros temas pendientes, como por ejemplo, el derecho a territorio.”

“Although it is true that we have reached an agreement, it is not totally satisfactory to our brothers [prisoners in hunger strike]. From the beginning we made it clear that our demands weren't entirely met, but we took humanitarian reasons and the progress on several points into account”, said the werken [messenger in Mapudungún] Jorge Huenchullán. He finished by saying: “we considered that some signals by the government, such as freeing some comuneros, was enough to end the hunger strike. The round-table negotiations will continue to address other remaining issues, for instance, the right to land”

The hunger strike had been in progress since July and was reaching a critical point. Though the hunger strike is over, the conflict between Mapuche in southern Chile, private timber companies and the government is far from over.

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