On Saturday, the Mapuche indigenous people of Chile protested Columbus Day. A press release from the Organización Mapuche Meli Wixan Mapu stated, “we have nothing to celebrate.” This Columbus Day marks the 521st anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, and to the Mapuche people, the beginning of the mistreatment of indigenous people by Europeans.
According to the 2012 Census, there are a total of 1.5 million people who identify as indigenous in Chile. The Mapuche people make 9 percent of the 11.3 percent indigenous population in Chile.
The Mapuche people have been fighting through courts and protests to repatriate traditional lands. Chile’s government has agreed to give some of it back but the perceived delay has not been received well by the Mapuche people, leading to regular demonstrations and, on occasion, violent protests — including arson attacks on disputed lands. As a result, some Mapuche people have gone to prison under Chile’s anti-terrorism law.
Patricia Lienlaf, spokeswoman for Meli Wixan Mapu, explained that the protest on Saturday was held at the Angol prison because that is where many of the Mapuche people are incarcerated.
Source: Santiago Times.