The fight for autonomy of the mapuche peoples in Chile has much to teach us, argues Contra Toda Autoridad in this article, originally written for Issue 4 of the collective’s journal and translated by Avalanche.
Contra Toda Autoridad tries to establish points of connection with the radical and anti-state expressions in the historical struggle of the mapuche . Unveiling some differences with their struggle strategies and marking some distances as anti-authoritarians, the text emphasises above all the continuity of a long lasting struggle in which the fights for autonomy and recuperation of territory develop trough resistance and offensive against the statist and capitalists interests in mapuche territories.
“Each individuality, group, tribe or original people have their own ways of resisting this system. However they have the same enemy who represses and oppresses them and the ultimate goal of their struggles is to live freely and autonomously.”
– Compañero Carlos Gutiérrez Quiduleo
Brief journey on a path of resistance
It is well known that the struggle of the Mapuche people has lasted hundreds of years. Even before fighting the Spanish conquistadors, they had already halted the advance of the Incan empire by preventing its advance towards the south of the territory now called Chile and forcing it to maintain its position in the central zone of ‘Chile’.
Also known are the battles and clashes with the Spanish conquistadors, where for more than a hundred years a war was fought that put in check the ambitions of the conquistadors to dominate the territory without any major obstacles, forcing them, after periods marked by extermination and captivity, to establish a border that allowed the Mapuche to maintain their territory south of the Bio Bio River. Once the Chilean State was created, the oppression in Mapuche territory was intensified in what the history of the powerful hypocritically calls the ‘pacification of the Araucanía’, which was in fact a mass ethnic and cultural extermination that deepened the dispossession by delivering Mapuche lands to German settlers with the aim of ‘civilizing’ the lands of the ‘savages’.
In recent decades, the logic of dispossession has intensified following the implementation of neoliberal economic policies imposed by the dictatorship, delivering ancestral Mapuche lands to forestry and hydroelectric
companies, clearing forests, flooding lands, planting pines that kill the native ecosystem and installing pulp processing plants that devastate the territory.
Dispossession, repression and resistance against the State and Capital.
With the arrival of democracy, the commercialization logic intensified, but as was the case in centuries past, Mapuche resistance returned to emerge with organizational proposals and direct actions that led towards
the autonomy of the Mapuche people through the reclamation and defense of their ancestral territory. This objective has been realized in recent decades via the cooperation between communities as well as direct action against diverse targets, such as incendiary attacks against the infrastructure of forestry companies, landowners, holiday homes of politicians, churches etc that are part of the interests of the capitalists and the Chilean state present in the area.
The movement that we call the ‘Mapuche Struggle’ is very heterogeneous. Existing within it simultaneously we find communities and groups that have been assimilated by the Chilean institutional path, discourses of
victimhood, communities in conflict, armed resistance groups, military political organizations, anti-capitalist/revolutionary proposals, ideas of national liberation etc. In the midst of this diversity the Chilean State seeks to solidify the resolution of the conflict via the institutional path, by projecting an image of respect for diversity by putting Mapuche people alongside the authorities during political speeches, inserting the Mapuche language (the Mapuzungun) in State buildings and school texts, appointing people of Mapuche origin to political posts in the ‘conflict zone’, etc.
Alongside this, a policy of intense repression has been underway for years against the Mapuche communities in struggle that have not surrendered to the impositions and offers from the State. They are attacked by the State with continuous raids, assaults on children, imprisonment, murders, torture, special prosecutors, surveillance, wiretapping, use of undercover witnesses, use of informants in exchange for benefits, militarized police, paramilitary groups and the whole range of counterinsurgency techniques that are at the disposal of the well resourced State and Capital.
Recovering the experiences of a struggle without truce.
In spite of all their repressive machinations, the State has failed to stop the most radical expressions of the Mapuche struggle, making us aware of the differences that separate us from any victimized or ethnocentric positions that do not pay attention to the existence of other tendencies in the war against State and Capital. Once certain distances are assumed, we can recover the permanent action against State and capitalist
interests and see how, despite the repression, this action continues and even extends and intensifies, surpassing all the anti-subversive policies deployed in the Mapuche area with hundreds of men deployed
and millions of pesos spent on human and technical resources for repression.
We can learn many lessons from studying the continuous radical Mapuche struggle, elements of which could undoubtedly contribute to the insurrectionary struggle against all authority. Its rhythm of war is already an
example to follow, intensifying and diversifying the combat, on the one hand against the centuries of dispossession that still continue, and on the other hand in response to the repressive assaults.
For example, in April 2016 while the State, its public prosecutors, police and intelligence agencies were still celebrating and boasting following the arrest of a group of communeros accused of participating in an incendiary attack where two landowners died (2015), Mapuche resistance groups carried out various incendiary attacks in defiance of the authorities, demonstrating that imprisonment is not synonymous with defeat and that the struggle continues and intensifies.
Something also important to consider is that this continuous action despite the arrests and murders of Mapuche comuneros, the raids and endless harassment of communities, and even the betrayal of Mapuches who
ended up collaborating with the State, does not necessarily have anything to do with a military professionalization of the Mapuche – although the authorities try to present it this way. On the contrary, it is individuals and collectives that with ingenuity and decisiveness take an active part in the radical struggle without giving truce to the enemy in a war that begins within the same communities that have made advances in reclaiming territory and resisting the police onslaughts.
Their attitude in the struggle, their rhythm of war, are an example for us. Bringing the war everywhere from our position of continual confrontation is something that is undoubtedly feared by authority. How much stronger we would be if more compañerxs had this attitude of breaking from their own routine and comfort, to unleash their rage against domination, to return the blows of the enemy and to give everything to
the permanent insurrection against power.
We have the experience close to us and the desire and conviction within us.
In the forests, fields and cities …To spread the war against domination!