1.- Introduction. Silently processing the hard moment.
Throughout these difficult days, and until today that I write this letter, I had decided to process in silence and in deep reflection, the circumstances of my frustrated presidential candidacy.
This decision goes far beyond the current context, it is about responding to those who have called me to support me, despite the public scorn and the temptation to judge without clear information, I am addressing them first, and it is related to the respect I owe to all those who believed in and committed themselves to the project of change that I seek to represent. It relates to my loyalty to my beloved Mapuche people, to the responsibility I assume before all the citizens who witnessed this episode and, of course, to the love that binds me to my own family, who have suffered this moment with me.
As I am sure you have, I too have experienced the ordeal of unintentional misfortune. When this happens, a large majority of people distance themselves from you and ignore you, many judge you a priori, influenced only by a kind of media judgement. This is very similar to a lynching in the public square; others categorically lump you into the “sack” of that political class that nobody likes anymore and that are largely the cause of the ills of our democracy. However, these circumstances also reveal true friends, all those who have always been with me with an unconditional support that has moved me and sustained me. To the former, I understand, and to the latter, I express all my best affections.
One of the things that have strongly affected my mind and spirit during this period has been the fact that I have felt part of the history of suffering of poor Chile and of my people. All this has strengthened my pride in being Mapuche and my immeasurable admiration for my ancestors. Because they are with me, the ones who forged the character of my territory, which has never stopped fighting to continue to exist. The attempted extermination and assimilation that we have suffered at the hands of the conquistadors first, and then of the State of Chile itself. Far from domesticating our will, it has consolidated our conviction to validate our right to be what we are and to inhabit our land according to our customs, worldview and culture.
I point this out, understanding what happened in the final stage of the sponsorship process, which should have made my candidacy possible. I am fully aware that there was a lack of greater care, which lies very centrally in the trust that I placed in the wrong people. I accept this misplaced trust in all its magnitude.
2.- The price of holding on to a dream.
Even with this weight on my shoulders, I perceive that I am also paying the costs of proposing a new political project to Chile and the risk of proposing Kume Mongen or “Buen Vivir” as a new vision of development. I speak of risk because those who were threatened by these proposals sought all possible means to undermine my candidacy and silence my voice, as soon as they realised that our campaign could find an echo in the hearts of a broad citizenry outraged by the abuses and inequalities of an individualistic system centered on the competitive logic of the market.
Those who have been privileged by this unjust and dehumanising system seek to maintain that position at all costs. This inbred elite, accustomed to using the “rules of the game” that they themselves designed to control power, today sees how the common people not only no longer trust them, but radically despise them. Given this judgement, which I share and which I have supported at its root, I set out to develop, aware of the difficulties, a process completely independent of these elites, without resources and only supported by the generous voluntarism of those who believed in us.
For those of us who come from the most acute poverty and who experience discrimination just because we are indigenous, everything is always more difficult. Our support networks are those who live our same experience of exclusion, with honorable exceptions, and that is where our reservoir of hope lies. But we took the long and rocky road, knowing that we would awaken the worst practices of the old politics. I believe that my voice became a dangerous sign, a critical alert because it represented a multitude of voices that for so many decades remained in the darkness of oblivion.
When the resources available are those that emanate from the sacrifice of many people convinced of the same shared dream, what remains is the work of volunteers who commit themselves, devoid of any personal interest. I recognise that I did not have the necessary control systems to see those who offered their support, hiding spurious interests and intentions full of betrayal and deceit; not only to me, but mainly to the project we are promoting.
But, taking charge of the resilience of my people, I understand all this as a great learning experience on how to continue this task. I see it more clearly now, and with a new and higher horizon. I refuse to believe that a tiny group of ill-intentioned people are capable of destroying the great project of good living. And this dream of Küme Mongen has not been a merit of mine or of many other like-minded people, but comes from the most ancient indigenous cultures that understood the human being as eminently worthy, the community as the source of harmonious coexistence. Because the focus is on shared goods as a means, so that no one lacks the essentials, seeing nature as “mother earth”, generous, abundant and equally available to all.
I denounce the attempt to assassinate my image without the right to defence and forgetting the presumption of innocence, as well as the People’s List. Indeed, the People’s List is an expression of that Chile that has awakened and is seeking its destiny, with difficulties and lack of experience, but with an absolute legitimacy in its origin and in its visions, which will not be demolished by its own or other people’s obstacles with which they try to scorn them. What is essential is that this deep, mixed-race and forgotten Chile maintains the strength that drove it to mobilise and that led it to represent itself, without intermediaries or representatives who forgot that they were mandated to serve the common good.
Our struggle, validated by the full exercise of popular sovereignty, has been built from the democratic system, with permanent dialogue, with the search for agreements and caring for social peace as a precious asset. But this “monster with a thousand heads” refuses to die and has set out to criminalise everything that threatens it, condemning it beforehand, without due process and using the propaganda means at its disposal. As Malcom X said: “The media can make you love the oppressor and hate the oppressed”. And that is, sadly, what is happening today.
So, the president of Servel with his curious but very well-orchestrated diligence, goes ahead and condemns me in a public statement. And he does it in an illegal and arbitrary way, without complying with the basic moral act of notifying me of the resolution, without giving me any space to know what it is about, without making use of the five legal days to respond or resolve; unlike what happened with the political parties. This is how columnist Luis Casado describes this injustice, with all its crudeness and Chilean clarity: “No hay que escupir p’al cielo, says the proverb. A few days later, the headlines in the press… leave the arrogant scornful arrogant people who mocked the weichafe with their asses in the air: Political parties and the Servel clash after the unprecedented rejection of more than 200 candidacies… Both blocks agreed in accusing the Electoral Service of technical problems and of an alleged ‘quota-taking’ by its Council”.
In these times of persecution and threats, it is an ethical imperative to make it absolutely clear that I am not a criminal, I have never committed a crime, according to the lies of the tabloid media, from which I will defend myself from persecution by the State and the powerful.
3.- The bad memory with its own defects.
The democracy we have known has been tailor-made for its creators. And I do not intend to slander anyone, but to expose facts known to all. The fraudulent financing of the party system, in which money and politics are mixed, and in general the acts of corruption of a large part of the public and private democratic institutions, have never had sanctions proportional to the causes pursued. Is this a coincidence or a deliberate act to maintain the status quo?
This same powerful caste, in keeping with the style of the old Pharisees, is today tearing at their garments to denounce acts that seem reprehensible to them. This certainly does not justify any lack of transparency or acts against public ethics, but I would ask for a little modesty from those who unscrupulously and with evident hypocrisy “see the speck in someone else’s eye and not the log in their own”.
When it comes to judging opponents who do not pursue the changes Chile needs, there is an underlying inequity and a kind of democratic dictatorship. As is well known, the various governments, regardless of their doctrinal domiciles, have demonstrated their lack of political will to protect the life and property of the Mapuche and indigenous people, versus protecting the interests of agricultural, forestry and real estate entrepreneurs. This is just one example of a fact that we had all assumed as a matter of course. When one concludes that a government does not protect the weakest, the big question here is who protects the most vulnerable? In Giorgio Agamben’s approach, this is described as a place that is not covered by law, a dangerous interstice in which there are no guarantees. This is the state of exception in its crudest reality, here the words of the law seem not to be observed, leaving these subjects in the condition of waste of the system.
4. – Chilean apartheid and the Buen Vivir, which impels me to choose the democratic path.
I speak as a person who sees Chile from an intercultural point of view, because I am Mapuche and at the same time I am from poor Chile. From here I speak to that segment of racist and careerist society, where it doesn’t matter how much we hear about democracy. It seems to me that the only difference between pre-Mandela South Africa and Chile is that there they preached separation and practised it, while in Chile they preach integration and practise segregation. A symptom of a profoundly sick society.
But I must say that I respect more those who attack me directly and not those who hide behind hired assassins so as not to get their hands dirty. As it happened to me. 99% of the legislative power is in the hands of the partidocracy, which defends corporate interests and political privileges. With less than 3% of citizen support they decide the future of 90% of independents, is this reasonable? So what are the means to achieve justice when governments and state institutions fail to do so?
Is it nobler for a person to suffer the blows and darts of the victims of herd psychology – as Nietzsche said – or of the powerful? For me the answer has always been the path of understanding and the search for the common good that we must strive for. This is precisely why I embarked on this hard political path I am facing, because I have always been aware of the consequences. Because if you sit and wait for the people in power to do what they should do, the wait will be too long.
I know that hard times are coming, but Ngenechen, our “Great Father”, has allowed me to climb to the top of the mountain, and I have seen the land of justice and equality that my people will one day reach. So today I fear no man, because I have seen the greatness of my ancestors and because once again my Mapu, this land lifts me up, just as Gaia (mother earth) lifted her son Antaeus with more strength to conquer, every time he fell.
“I lived in the monster and I know its entrails and my sling is that of David” (José Martí).
Diego Ancalao Gavilán; September 2021, from the heart of ancient Chilimapu.