The Fallen Weichafe State Violence and the Struggle for Indigenous Rights in Chile

About Weichafe

Camilo Catrillanca was a weichafe (warrior) of 24 years old of the Temucuicui community, grandson of historic Lonko Juan Catrillanca and son of the president of the Mapuche community “Ignacio Queipul Millanao,” of Temucuicui, Marcelo Catrillanca. Camilo had a 6-year-old daughter and his partner, who he was building a house with, was pregnant.

An activist and a believer in social justice, he always denounced the violence and discrimination against the Mapuche. In 2011, with only 15 years of age, he became a leader of a high school student’s occupation in the municipality of Ercilla, which lasted 13 days, through which an agreement was settled in which an intercultural high school would be built and more scholarships given to students.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018, Camilo Catrillanca was headed home in a tractor that was supposedly declared stolen. He was accompanied by a 15-year-old Mapuche. On the way, they encountered police of the recently formed “Jungle Commando,” who started shooting, first with rubber bullets and then with metal bullets. Camilo died after being shot in the back of the head. Meanwhile the minor was illegally detained and beaten by police.

The Jungle Commando was created by Chilean president Sebastian Piñera in June of 2018. It’s a group of officials of the Group of Special Police Operations (GOPE) of the police department, trained in Colombia and the U.S. to combat organized terrorist groups.

The first police official version of what happened was given by now ex-intendent of the Araucania region, Luis Mayol. He said that the police operation had started over the robbery of three cars in Ercilla and that Catrillanca was one the robbers. Also, he said it was a common crime and that Catrillanca had a criminal record.

This version of the facts resulted in being completely fake. Also, it was found out that the police involved had cameras. The police-involved first stated that the cameras were not used to record their operation. They were found to be misrepresenting the facts, as footage of the operation later emerged.

The killing of Camilo Catrillanca generated a wave of protests in Chile as well as in other countries.