What is the price we must pay for the recognition and respect of our human rights or for the return of our territories, the price is death, as we can see today, with the murder by the police and the army of our brother, Jordan Liempi (23) and Iván Porma (44) who was shot and is fighting between life and death, it is what Patrick Henri[1] meant in his phrase “freedom or death”, surely it is what our brothers thought in their last breath.

By Diego Ancalao G.

It is the voice of a people that they are still trying to assassinate in the name of peace, in the best style of Cornelio Saavedra, who 140 years ago, under the euphemism of “Pacification of Araucania”, assassinated our grandparents. It was a time when they plundered our lands, which today are in the hands of forestry and agricultural entrepreneurs, protected by police and military forces, under the State of Emergency, enacted by President Piñera and supported by all political sectors in Congress. This is no coincidence, because where the exception takes root, uncertainty and total defencelessness arise, leaving life naked with no rights to protect it.

In fact, the Mapuche of Wallmapu do not live in a democracy; they live in a police state, which is characterised by the brutality of the carabineros and the military, they have the form and force of an army of occupation, whose aim is not to protect us; nor to look after our wellbeing; their only objective and cause is to protect the interests of businessmen, those who do not even live there.

It is the same conditions that prevailed in Algeria, Ireland and the Basque Country that drove those peoples to the noble task of throwing off the yoke by resorting to recessive measures against the invader. These conditions prevail today in Mapuche communities together with the rage and resentment of the people that grows, when we see that for the government, their murders are not violence, they are acts of “peace”, but when a Mapuche defends himself, he is treated as a terrorist and a criminal. This happens because the rules of the game, the laws, are made by the oppressors, to suit their privileges.

I would not be human if I were to stand here and tell you that the Mapuche who live in these communities and in these conditions are willing and determined to remain seated and non-violent, patiently and peacefully looking for some goodwill to change the existing conditions, waiting for manna to fall from the sky. The historical development of everything that is happening at the moment makes us think of a new and great Mapuche uprising.

But never a Mapuche uprising, which deals with the solution of the conflict in deep terms, should carry the values, which the political hegemonies of left and right have used to destroy the ñuke mapu (mother earth), under the name of civilisation and economic growth, because this is the centuries-old excuse for the indigenous segregation, and the impoverishment of the great social masses in the whole continent.

For, the Chilean culture derived from European Christianity, which is capitalist and imperialist, ergo, colonialist, therefore the Mapuche philosophy and way of life of Buen Vivir (Kume mongen) clashes with those linked to that historical repressive behaviour. Integration, which applies to lower social sectors, has therefore always been framed in terms of assimilation.

My voice is only one of many, but none of us believe in the filibusters of Chilean politics, who proclaim Mapuche greatness and at the same time approve or remain silent about laws that day by day undermine the dignity of the Mapuche people. This double standard is irresponsible, because it has transformed the Mapuche cause into a personal, business and political business. I hope that this time, we will not see the death of our martyrs used to continue to survive their outdated leadership.

Can there be peace as long as they do not give us back our territorial rights, as long as they continue to murder innocent people? No, as long as they do not give us back our political, territorial and economic autonomy, which allows us to live with dignity.

Before I continue, I would like to clarify something about myself, I am writing at a time when I have paid a high price for defying power and my conscience does not allow me to remain silent in the face of the atrocities that continue to be committed by the same people who are trying to silence me. I am Mapuche Nagche, with a political conscience and a people’s conscience, who live the reality, I am not a follower of opinions, so my conscience obliges me to ask what course we follow, in my humble way of understanding the question at an electoral moment, it is the vote or the seizure with territorial control.

Martin Luther King was right when he said that protest is the voice of the unheard, through institutional channels, there is no doubt that politicians only listen to the voice of the money that finances their campaigns and parties. Our adversary is precisely that small group of political and economic power that legalised the usurpation and exploitation of Mapuche lands, those who impoverished the Chilean people by decree. So, we are not anti-Chilean, but we are anti-poverty, anti-segregation, anti-looting and anti-inequality.

It is not possible to solve our problems without addressing the political hegemony that has hijacked the state and democracy for its own petty ends. That every time they are confronted, they eliminate the protest, not the problem, their privileges are more important than the pains of Chile. Even so, the Mapuche people are the only actor who have confronted them for more than 200 years.

As for the vote, when Chilean society is divided and the indigenous have a voting bloc of their own, they can determine who will end up in La Moneda, this is a patent fear in fundamentalist sectors of politics of all colours. What they must avoid by any means, the union of the “Indians with the patipelaos” is unacceptable to the caste.

In fact, it was the Mapuche vote and that of other peoples that contributed in several governments to put in place presidents, which is why in every campaign programme there is a promise for the indigenous, and even each candidate has his own Mapuche to put as a flower vase somewhere. It is the ignorant vote that has put in place administrations that have made laws to harm you, and the leaders of their parties go around applauding saying “what a good president or presidential candidate we have”.

However, as they say in the countryside, today there is no one to vote for, because of the absence of statesmen, together with the existing asymmetry of power, where the Mapuche are the last link in the chain of distribution of power, will they return our territories to believe in the democratic way, will it be possible to arm ourselves with words when the state offers bullets, will it be possible to arm ourselves with words when the state offers bullets? We need deeds, not words, it is about recovering the Treaty of Trapihue and returning the heart of a people through its territorial claim, about recovering the capacity to recognise agreements between peoples, it is about dignity and peace, it is the first dialogue and gesture to defend life, in a scene that today we witness as mortuary.

Furthermore, as a native nation, I would dare to propose the need to give substance to a Mapuche nationalist programme, whose aim is for the Mapuche to control the politics and politicians of their own people, to ensure what politics should give them, rights and freedom. For the vote is like the bullet, if it does not have a target within its reach, it will be lost. Under this banner we would unite with anyone, anywhere, as long as it is to eliminate the political, economic, social and territorial ills that afflict our communities.

The philosophy that underpins it must comprise a programme that involves territorial, economic control and the suppression of social evils such as alcoholism and all kinds of drugs and evils that could destroy the moral fibre of our people, and which are introduced by invaders as a strategy of social control. This nationalism will never threaten the existence of any organisation, nor will it ever appeal to the supremacy of some over others, but rather it will be aimed at rescuing and promoting the ancestral philosophy and uniting with the non-indigenous movements that will allow Chile to change.

The primary goal and call to the candidates is to approve a statute of autonomy for the Mapuche people in the southern macro zone, Wallmapu, at whose negotiating table the nationalist movements, autonomists and communities (lof) will present a proposal for a statute.

During the process, a closed Mapuche congress is imperative, where they agree on the convenience of creating their own political arm, I mean a party, to be installed in parallel at the epicentre of power, if necessary to organise an army of political activists and a territorial one, under a single banner, so that the power of the vote and the power of territorial protest will be real. The arrow is as sharp as the word.

In the present conditions I would say “Rise up mighty race, you can get anything you want” (Malcom X), I see no other option.

[1] Patrick Henry was a prominent figure in the American Revolution, known and remembered primarily for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he was one of the most influential (and radical) advocates of the American Revolution and republicanism, especially in his denunciations of the corruption of government officials and his defence of the rights of man. He served two terms as Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.