There are many demands with which we come to this 8M. In this letter, we are writing to all the compañeras and compañeres who are organising actions in different territories of Abya Yala, to propose that the demand to the Argentinean government for the release of Machi Betiana Colhuan and the Mapuche women of the Winkul Mapu community who are in prison with their children be very present. As a community, of territorial and popular feminists, we are part of the demand to ensure the return of Machi Betiana Colhuan and the Winkul Mapu community to the Rewe.
We recall that the conflict with the community of Lof Lafken Winkul Mapu has as a precedent the violent eviction carried out by the Federal Police and Prefecture on 23 November 2017, by order of the federal judge Gustavo Villanueva, when they entered the lands recovered by this community, near Lake Mascardi, and arrested members of the community, including women and children, chasing those who were able to escape into the mountains. In this context, on 25 November, members of the Albatros group of the Prefecture shot and killed Rafael Nahuel in the back, wounding four other people. The persecution of the young Lautaro Curuhuinca, who brought down the body of Rafael Nahuel, continues from that day, and today he is still a fugitive from the racist justice system.
Judge Silvina Domínguez ordered a second eviction on 4 October 2022, in the framework of the case initiated by a complaint “for usurpation” filed by the National Parks Administration in 2017. The eviction was carried out by the Unified Security Command of the Federal Forces, and concluded with the detention of 7 women and their children, including a pregnant woman; 3 were given house arrest and four of them -Martha Luciana Jaramillo, Andrea Despo, Florencia Melo and Débora Vera- were transferred to the prison of Ezeiza (more than 1600 kilometres away from their families), with the argument that there is no federal establishment for women in Río Negro. In the face of widespread repudiation, they were then sent to the Airport Security Police (PSA) in Bariloche. In the operation, three teenagers from the community were also chased through the mountains, and the National Ombudsman’s Office for Children and Adolescents had to intervene quickly. Among those arrested is the machi Betiana Colhuan, who was taken from the Rewe located in the lot claimed by the communities as part of the ancestral territories that were taken away by the Argentine State. The Rewe, a sacred place of the community, is a medicinal, spiritual and ceremonial space.
Negotiations initiated between the communities and the government have stalled due to the lack of decision by the government – and especially by National Parks – to return the Rewe to the community, ensuring the freedom of the Mapuche prisoners. It would be enough for National Parks to withdraw the two lawsuits filed to criminalise them in order to secure their freedom.
It is urgent to ensure the return of the machi and her community to the Rewe, the freedom of the Mapuche prisoners, the withdrawal of the lawsuits filed by National Parks, and the demilitarisation of Mapuche territory. An end to colonial, racist and patriarchal violence, and the recognition of the indigenous genocide carried out by the Argentinean nation-state, with concrete measures that advance towards the recognition of pre-existing peoples, and the fulfillment of national and international treaties in this regard.
Feminists from all territories say this 8M: Freedom for the Mapuche prisoners. Return of the community to the Rewe. Demilitarization of Mapuche territory now.
Feminists of Abya Yala