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Latino Daily News

Saturday October 2, 2010

UPDATE: 34 Mapuches in Chile Continue Hunger Strike Day 83

UPDATE: 34 Mapuches in Chile Continue Hunger Strike Day 83

Photo: Mapuche's in Chile

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UPDATE: The Chilean Senate passed new reforms to the controversial anti-terrorism law this week, but they are not enough to end the Mapuche hunger strike that enters its 83rd day today.
When the Chamber of Deputies approves the reforms they will be come law. Changes include limiting the use of anonymous witnesses and lowering penalties for arson, two points the hunger strikers had pushed for.
“We hope to offer to the country a solution for this problem, which has gone on for many days and has distressed millions of Chileans,” Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said. He is also expected to meet with Mapuche representatives this weekend.
Protests and marches continue to increase in Chile as supporters attempt to raise awareness of the hunger strikers.

ORIGINAL: With the strike now approaching day 80, unprecedented media coverage has come to Chile’s “Mapuche problem.”
All the hunger strikers have been arrested for crimes committed in a campaign to reclaim ancestral land that was sold by the government without the Mapuche’s consent. The government has charged the Mapuches under its anti-terrorism law, which is one of the main reasons the hunger strike began.

The anti-terrorism laws we first created by the Pinochet government but more recently have been used to intimidate the Mapuche activists.
Supreme Court President Juica also admitted that there are problems with the law.
“The anti-terrorism law in its current form is an obstacle to reaching an agreement, and so we should look for a way to modify and moderate the law, to give it more relevancy in the democracy in which we live,” Juica said. “The law does not have a very good past because it was created and frequently used in an undemocratic government.”

In addition to protesting the anti-terrorism laws, the hunger strike is also against the militarization of the Araucanía Region (IX), where most Mapuche live, and the police’s use of excessive force against the Mapuche people.

Chile’s government said this week it would be impossible to meet demands by 34 Mapuche hunger strikers that all three branches of Chile’s government meet together to resolve the on-going hunger strike.

In a statement the activist’s plea, “It is urgent that the international public opinion knows and exerts pressure to save the lives of the Mapuche, who are only exercising their right to seek a fair trial.”