After a meeting on March 21 in Temuco, the capital of the southern Chilean region of Araucanía, indigenous leaders called for the rapid implementation of self-government for the Mapuche, the country's largest indigenous group. The leaders also repeated their rejection of plans announced by the government of rightwing president Sebastián Piñera for an indigenous council, a consultation process and a special law for Araucanía. Piñera, Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick and other officials made the proposals in January after an outbreak of violence in the region exacerbated a longstanding struggle between the Mapuche and settlers and forestry companies over lands that the Mapuche claim. Indigenous leaders responded to Piñera's proposal by holding a summit at the Cerro Ñielol park in Temuco on Jan. 16 and forming a new alliance, the Mapuche Pact for Self-Determination.
As of March 2 the Spanish-Italian electric energy consortium Endesa-Enel was calling for dialogue with indigenous Mapuche communities in Valdivia province in Chile's southern Los Ríos region in an effort to get clearance for the consortium's stalled $781 million hydroelectric project at Lake Neltume. The dialogue offer came in response to reservations that Los Ríos public service agencies expressed about the power company's latest proposal for the plant. Jorge Weke (also spelled "Hueque")—the werkén (spokesperson) for the Koz Koz Parliament in Panguipulli, a municipality that would be affected by the dam—rejected the dialogue offer, saying the company didn't understand the project's significance for the Mapuche.
Chilean authorities suspended a hearing for indigenous Mapuche prisoner Fernando Millacheo Marín on Feb. 12 after some 20 of Millacheo's supporters, including women and children, were detained outside the courthouse in Collipulli in the southern Araucanía region's Malleco province. Police agents attacked the crowd of about 50 protesters with a water cannon, according to Mapuche sources, and beat several women and handcuffed an 11-year-old. The detainees were charged with public disorder, and Millacheo's hearing was postponed to Feb. 15. The authorities said the protesters caused the clash by hurling rocks at police agents, but Mapuche activists countered that the detentions were part of a wave of repression that included the arrest of Jaime Huenchullan, werken (spokesperson) for the Temucuicui autonomous community, along with an unnamed French national, while they were on their way to the hearing.
On Jan. 27 a group of academics, musicians and human rights activists said they were planning an emergency visit the next day to two indigenous Chilean prisoners to try to find a political solution that could end a hunger strike the prisoners started on Nov. 14. The prisoners--Héctor Llaitul Carillanca, the leader of the militant Mapuche organization Arauco Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), and CAM activist Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán--were convicted in 2011 of arson and of attacking a prosecutor; this is their third hunger strike to demand a reduction of their sentences. They are now being held in a prison in Concepción, in the central Biobío region.
Chilean landowner Werner Luchsinger and his wife, Vivianne McKay, died in a fire set by some 20 masked attackers on Jan. 4 at their Lumahue estate in Vilcún, in the southern region of Araucanía. Luchsinger, who was 75 years old, reportedly fought back against the intruders with a firearm, wounding at least one. The couple, who owned some 1,000 hectares of farmland in the region, had resisted demands for land from the indigenous Mapuche community. Pamphlets were found at the site commemorating the fifth anniversary of the death of Mapuche student Matías Catrileo Quezada, who was shot in the back by a police agent on Jan. 3, 2008 during an occupation of an estate owned by Werner Luchsinger's cousin, Jorge Luchsinger.
By a unanimous vote, on Oct. 24 Chile's Supreme Court of Justice overturned the convictions of two young Mapuche prisoners for the attempted homicide of Gen. Iván Besmalinovic, a commander of the carabineros militarized police, in November 2011. The two prisoners had been on a liquids-only hunger strike along with two other Mapuche prisoners since Aug. 27 in the city of Angol in the southern region of Araucanía. After receiving word of the court's decision, the hunger strikers met with members of their home community, Wente Winkul Mapu, and on Oct. 25 they decided to end their fast.
Thousands marched in Santiago on Oct. 15 to demand respect for the rights of Chile's indigenous peoples—the Mapuches in the south, Aymara speakers in the north, and the Pascuenses (Rapa Nui) of Easter Island. The march, sponsored by the Meli Wixan Mapu Organization, the José Guiñón communities, the community of Wente Winkul Mapu and the Temukuikui Autonomous Mapuche Community, also demanded the release of four Mapuche prisoners who had been on hunger strike in the southern city of Angol for 50 days. Media estimates for participation ranged from 3,000 to 7,000.
Five prisoners from Chile's indigeous Mapuche group began a hunger strike on Oct. 1 in the city of Temuco in the southern Araucanía region, joining four Mapuche prisoners who have been on hunger strike in Angol, also in Araucanía, since Aug. 27. The Temuco strikers—Leonardo Quijón Pereira, Luis Marileo Cariqueo, Fernando Millacheo, Guido Bahamondes and Cristian Levinao--said they were protesting the conspiracy by the "state, the business owners and the large landowners to use the laws against us to keep us far from our families and loved ones." The prisoners are asking to be moved to the Angol prison, which is closer to their homes, and are calling on the government to end the "humiliating and annoying searches the Gendarmerie of Chile [the prison authorities] carries out on relatives and friends who visit us in the prison."