CHILE: Mapuche Indians Set Up Autonomous Legal Defence Unit
By Pamela Sepúlveda
SANTIAGO, Feb 11, 2010 (IPS) - As tensions mount in Chile's Mapuche territories, the indigenous people have created a new legal defence body for cases involving resistance against the state, as they put little stock in the justice system for working out cases such as land disputes.
"Practically everyone in our family is in prison, and those of us who aren't are subject to restraining orders that restrict our movements," Antonio Cadín, "werkén" (spokesman) for the Juan Paillalef community 730 kilometres south of the capital, told IPS.
The Mapuche activist is serving a five-year sentence under which he is only locked up at night, for defiance of authority and disorderly conduct. His wife, Juana Calfunao, the "lonko" (maximum traditional authority) of the community, is serving four-and-a-half years on the same charges. Their youngest daughter, 12-year-old Relmutray, has applied for political asylum in Switzerland.