Chilean police fire convicted Mapuche killer

This is an AP article coming from Santiago, Chile. On Friday, the national police force fired Lt. Walter Ramirez, who was convicted of unnecessary violence after the shooting death of Matias Catrileo, a Mapuche Indian activist in January 2008. Ramirez was not jailed, and remained on the police force. In the face of violence on the anniversary of Catrileo’s murder, the government fired Ramirez, the official reason being that Ramirez damaged the image and prestige of the police force. According to the article, the Mapuches fought against Spanish rule for centuries, but were forced into exile in Araucania in 1881. A faction of Mapuches continues to rebel today.

This article touches on a theme we talked about last semester, the incompleteness of the conquest. The native movement in Chile is still active, and an important political force, even though it is repressed by the government. There are several possible explanations for the firing of this police officer years after the fact. The Chilean government may be becoming more sensitive to needs and civil rights of Mapuches. The firing may also be a reactionary move to put an end to recurring violence, rather than a sign of a sea change.

-S. Lilly