The Mapuches and the struggle of the Chilean workers

Mapuche women (wikimedia commons)

The television, radio and Chilean press are permanently attacking and accusing the Mapuche people of “violent and terrorist” acts. All of this avalanche of false information is aimed at discrediting the mass mobilisations of the Mapuches, and justifying the unjustifiable, which is linked clearly with the running down of the Mapuche nation.


It is clear that we can expect nothing from the main mass media, which is in the hands of the same class which stole the Mapuche territory and exploit the Chilean working class. From this, they have made fortunes from the country. They are the same thieves that try to hide not only what they do today but what they did in the past.

There is a lack of information and the silence from mass media about the fact that the Mapuche people suffer worse today than they had to suffer under the Pinochet dictatorship. This black-out of information was conceived by the supporters of the ‘Concertacion’ – the Nueva Majoria – and the former Pinocheistas.

A slaughter called “Pacification of the Araucania”

Historically, the Mapuche people never attempted to invade other territories. This indigenous people never usurped the property of other peoples and only defended themselves against those who tried to rob them. Firstly, this was done against those who marched behind the Christian cross – the Spanish imperialists. Against them the Mapuche never suffered a military defeat, and the imperialists were compelled to accept that at least a part of the Mapuche territory should belong to the Mapuche.

Yet, the main thieves and usurpers of the Mapuche territory, called the Walmapu, were the oligarchical elite, and then the bourgeoisie of the Chilean and Argentinean states. They betrayed all without observing even the territorial boundaries agreed with the imperialists of the Spanish crown. They ended up invading the territories.

In the history books about Chile, these invasions were euphemistically known as the “Pacification of the Araucania”. Bu this was nothing less than the massacre of thousands of Mapuche women, children and older people. This slaughter had only one sole objective – to seize lands. We should remember that these crimes took place just over 100 years ago, and extended into the first three decades of the 20th century.

Following the massacre and defeat of Mapuche resistance, the Chilean state installed the Mapuche people in reservations and titles to marginal land. But the state did not write this into law and therefore the lands did not appear as Mapuche property.

To defend the land from capitalist destruction

The forestry industry and paper production are destroying the environment, contaminating water supplies, and destroying plants and wildlife. The contamination of the coast is destroying all the fish and shell fish on which the Mapuche people feed, along with the artisan Chilean fishermen. The concentration of rubbish dumps in areas where the Mapuches live is drying up underground water supplies and worsening the quality of life. The struggle of the Mapuche people to reclaim their land, to allow them to live as a nation, is also part of a struggle to save the land from an environmental catastrophe cause by capitalism.

Continual violence against the Mapuches

The Chilean state has applied systematic violence against the Mapuches, under both the dictatorship and under the bosses’ “democracy”. Under the Pinochet dictatorship, the Luchsinger and other colonies like them, that today present themselves as “victims”, “supported” the detention of Mapuches and Chilean workers who were executed by members of the armed forces.

The “colonies” that were installed by the Chilean state in the Mapuche territories did not limit themselves to the land that they had been given. They also assassinated some Mapuches to seize the little land that the state had left the Mapuches in “indigenas reservations”. This is another fact that they wish to keep hidden.

Today’s descendants of the ruling class-imposed “colonies” denounce the Mapuches as “violent” and use “anti-terrorist laws” against them. These reactionary forces, who thrived by robbery and usurpation, by the exploitation of agricultural workers, now condemn the Mapuches as “lazy” and “violent”.

The repressive apparatus – the police and riot police – committed hundreds of crimes against the Mapuches, as agents of the Chilean state.

The racism, cruelty and violence characterises the police force of the Chilean state. These repressive groups are experts in provocations. You cannot speak of “confrontation” when a group has a few stones and the police are equipped with the most modern means of repression. Until now, the only deaths from these false confrontations invented by the police are those of Mapuche youth. For this reason none of the Mapuches have been involved in bloody actions as a means of reclaiming their lands or against the forestry companies or land owners.

The tribunals of Chilean Justice are part of the dispossession

The judicial tribunals historically approved the robbery of the Mapuche territory, and judges gave a legal justification for this robbery. From the beginning, they were absolutely partial. Any notion of ‘justice’ is simply a joke given the treatment of the Mapuches when they present their claims or demands for their land to be restored to them. Some have even been sentenced to ten years imprisonment for setting alight grassland.

On Friday 26th April 2019 the Supreme court declared ineffective the rulings of the Inter- American Court for Human rights, CIDH, known as the case of the lonkos – (Mapuche tribal chief). The international tribunal had ordered Chile to annul the sentences imposed for legal reasons, the right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the principle of equality and non-discrimination. The Chilean legal system is full of such cases of injustice.

Immediate freedom for all Mapuche political prisoners

It is necessary to end the repression of the Mapuche people. In recent years we have seen that the repression has increased against the Mapuche communities. An important part of the Chilean repressive state machine is now concentrated in the Mapuche territories. In many cases they put up red-herrings, implying that some communities are full of delinquents, as an excuse to repress them.

The brother Mapuches that today are prisoners in Chilean jails are not delinquents. The delinquents are those that have stolen the territories and not those who are fighting to take them back. They are amongst the ruling elite of Chile.

Amongst the Chilean elite are the delinquents

The real delinquents are those which have appropriated the Mapuche territory, the owners of the forests, the wood and cellulose – and all the employers that appropriated the natural resources in the mines, the fishing industry and electricity generating companies. Representatives of this class are in the parliament, the judicial system and the repressive apparatus of the state.

The struggle of the Mapuche in the countryside and cities

The main task today must be to organize, in order to struggle for the right of the urban Mapuches, against all forms of racism and labour discrimination wherever it exists, to defend the language rights of the Mapuch and also to fight injustice and repression. To defend the natural resources and the land and to support the struggles of the Mapuche communities, as part of a struggle of all peoples against exploitation and destruction caused by capitalism. The indigenous peoples have much to bring to the world superior to capitalism, with their tradition of solidarity and support and use of natural resources.

Need for unity of the Mapuches, the workers’ and the poor

The treatment that the Mapuches receive is the same suffered by the workers and all of the poor in the country. Chilean workers and the Mapuches have the same enemies. In the case of the forestry workers, this is very clear. Those that exploit them are the same who have usurped the Mapuche territory.

We need to unify all of our struggles together. The workers’ and social movements of Chile need to have a clear concern and understanding of the demands of the Mapuche nation and not to repeat, even if unconsciously, the practices of the ruling class.

The liberation of the working class from the capitalist yoke must be accompanied with the respect for the right national rights of the indigenous peoples. We must end capitalist exploitation and also the oppression of other nationalities, such as the Mapuches, Aymara, and other indigenous peoples.

To build a democratic socialist society is more urgent today than ever, if we want to end exploitation, the looting of natural resources, and all the injustices and blows that are committed every day in Chile.


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May 2019