Mapuche spiritual leader ends hunger strike

Machi Celestino Córdova took the decision after reaching an agreement with the Chilean Government

August 21, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
After 107 days of hunger strike, Celestino Córdova is in a delicate state of health. He is confined in the Intercultural Hospital of Nueva Imperial in the Araucania region. Photo: Mapu Express

Mapuche political prisoner and spiritual leader, Machi Celestino Córdova, on August 18, announced to end the hunger strike that he had been carrying out since May 4 after reaching an agreement with the Chilean government. However, the 26 other Mapuche political prisoners in the Angol, Lebu and Temuco prisons, who joined their spiritual leader in his protest action, continue with their strike.

Córdova has repeatedly denounced that Mapuche prisoners face discrimination and harassment in Chilean prisons and that in the pandemic context, their requests for early release and parole are rejected despite meeting the necessary requirements. Córdova began the hunger strike to demand that they be treated like other prisoners and be granted humanitarian release due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He demanded that the Chilean government comply with the Convention 169 of the ILO, which recognizes Indigenous people and their rights and allows them to spend a part of their prison sentence in house arrest.

The Mapuche leader signed an 8-point agreement with Chilean authorities that includes a 30-hour visit to home for Córdova once he recovers, no disciplinary sanctions by the Chilean Gendarmerie against the prisoners on hunger strike once they end it, reviewing of prisoners’ requests for bail, house arrest and parole, among other measures.

The members of Mapuche Indigenous communities have been mobilizing in different parts of the Araucania region of Chile since July 28, demanding the release of their imprisoned family members and friends.

On the night of August 1, they were violently attacked by right-wing extremist groups in the four different municipalities in the Malleco province of Araucania. The violent racist and fascist acts were condemned by numerous national and international social movements and human rights organizations. Several protests in solidarity with the Mapuche people and against the violent episodes were held across Araucania in the following days of the incident.