|Photo: Rapa Nui wounded by Chilean forces on Easter Island in Dec. 2010.|
(January 13, New York City, Sri Lanka Guardian) The United States trains Chilean police and the FBI investigates Indigenous Peoples in Chile, according to a Wikileaks cable. Chile expresses concern over the “radicalization” of Chile’s Indigenous Peoples and whether they are funded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in the cable dated 2008.
The US training of Chilean police came under scrutiny after Chilean forces attacked Indigenous Peoples, Rapa Nui, on their ancestral lands on Easter Island in December of 2010. The violent and brutal attacks by Chilean police left Rapa Nui wounded.
U.N. Special Rapporteur James Anaya questioned the level of force used against the Indigenous Peoples occupying government buildings and hotels in the main town of Hanga Roa since August 2010.
The Wikileaks cable exposes the paternalism of the Chilean and US officials.
In the cable, US Ambassador Paul Simon wrote that Chile’s Minister of Interior Edmundo Perez Yoma asked the US to “follow the money,” to see if it leads to Chavez, or FARC, and to help with Chile’s “Mapuche issue.”
Ambassador Simons said the US has experience “integrating Indigenous Peoples into the broader society.”
“The U.S. has experience at both national and state levels on the integration of indigenous peoples into the broader U.S. society.”
Ambassador Simons, of course, did not state the path of this integration in the US involved first the murder, rape and genocide of American Indians, followed by the destruction of culture and families by forced attendance in abusive boarding schools, and finally, the continued oppression of Indian people and obliteration of Indian human rights in the United States.
In the cable, Ambassador Simons said he visited the new Minister of Interior, Perez Yoma, with the DEA Chief, on Feb. 6, 2008, exactly one month after Yoma took office.
“Interior Minister Perez Yoma told the Ambassador February 6 that he is concerned about the potential radicalization of Chile’s indigenous population, including funding from foreign terrorist groups and/or Venezuela,” Ambassador Simons wrote.
Perez Yoma also asked for details on the US training of Chilean police and security forces, including the national police (Carabineros) and investigative police (Policia de Investigaciones de Chile.) The Ambassador also pointed out that the US FBI was investigating Indigenous Peoples in Chile.
Ambassador Simons said Perez Yoma agreed with him that the bilateral security relationship is excellent.
“He preferred, however, to have his Ministry ‘more fully informed’ concerning the nature and scope of programs offered to Chilean police and security organs by individual USG agencies,” Simons wrote.
Ambassador Simons said the government of Chile would like to draw on U.S. experience in addressing indigenous issues. Perez Yoma said U.S.-Chile cooperation on security matters is excellent but would like his Ministry to serve as a central clearinghouse for coordination between the various agencies of the US and Chile, including training and information sharing.
Simons next comments were titled, “Indigenous Radicals Funded Externally?”
Perez Yoma raised the concern of the “Mapuche issue.”
“Chile’s largest indigenous group and one that has over the past several months seemingly taken a turn to radical and sometimes violent action (ref B). While intelligence is unclear, funding of the Mapuche by the FARC ‘and Chavez’ is possible although, he noted, he wasn’t sure some of the monies aren’t being funneled off to other activities since Mapuche radicals remain ‘weak and disorganized.’ Potential Mapuche ties to ETA are also possible,” Ambassador Simons wrote.
“I would like,” Perez Yoma said, “your help in following the money.”
“RAO Chief noted his agency is working with Chilean colleagues to identify FARC and ETA actors outside Chile who might have potential links to Mapuche radicals. Legatt added that the FBI is coordinating with the Carabineros to assist in identification and potential prosecution of actors within Chile.”
In closing, Ambassador Simons said President Michelle Bachelet was weak on public security.
“Perez Yoma was reportedly brought on as seasoned political operator intended to bring discipline and focus to Bachelet’s sometimes unruly administration. As Interior Minister he directs cabinet meetings when Bachelet is not present; press reports suggest he used his first meeting to hammer home the message he is in charge. He was all business in this initial call and very clearly concerned that the Mapuche issue has the potential to underscore Bachelet’s perceived weakness on public security, an issue that falls squarely within his bailiwick.”
After this cable was written in 2008, Chilean police brutally attacked the Rapa Nui, Indigenous Peoples in their homeland on Easter Island in 2010, opening fire on the Rapa Nui and injuring women and children.
In a second cable, in September of 2009, Ambassador Simons wrote that Easter Islanders seem to be “inspired by Mapuche activism.”
Ambassador Simons wrote, “The August 12 police killing of Mapuche activist Jaime Mendoza — and the subsequent reaction from indigenous communities — has catapulted indigenous demands to the front of President Bachelet’s political agenda once again. Mapuche activists held protests and blockaded a highway, while more than 3,000 mourners packed Mendoza’s funeral. When President Bachelet sent a government delegation, led by the Under Secretary of the Presidency, to meet with all parties in Araucania, the Mapuche community refused to meet with the group. Bachelet subsequently named a cabinet minister, Jose Antonio Viera-Gallo, as the government’s new indigenous policy coordinator, effectively capitulating to a long-standing Mapuche demand for higher-level government attention. Meanwhile, another indigenous group — Easter Islanders — seem to have been inspired by Mapuche activism, recently occupying the island’s only airport for 24 hours in a successful effort to gain government attention to their demands.”
The Ambassador continues his criticisms of Indigenous Peopes, their organizations and the Chilean government. He also describes the efforts of Mapuche to reclaim ancestral lands, and how non-Indian land owners gouge land prices and deter new efforts.
“Under Ricardo Lagos (1998-2004), the government approved the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Mapuche areas, despite more than a decade of strenuous objections from Mapuche activists. He later issued a last minute and poorly explained cancellation to what would have been the largest ever meeting between the Mapuche community and the Chilean President, angering thousands who had travelled from across the country for the dialogue,” Ambassador Simons wrote.
In a separate cable in 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expresses concern over whether Iran has established contact with Indigenous Peoples in Latin America.
“In addition to national governments, has Iran established ties with any nongovernmental groups or Indigenous Peoples?”
Clinton expressed concern over Iran’s relationship with the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The concerns included cultural centers, religious converts and possible training of terrorists in Latin America. Further, she expressed concern over whether Iran could be taking advantage of the dropping of visa requirements by Ecuador and other countries. Clinton asked for more information on Iran’s “enablers,” for the “Iran watchers.”
“Washington analysts assess that Tehran is reaching out to Latin American countries in order to reduce its diplomatic isolation and increase ties to leftist countries in that region that Tehran perceives may share its anti-US agenda,” Clinton said.
Feb. 7, 2008: Ambassador
Jan. 9, 2009: Clinton
Sept. 9, 2009: Ambassador
Brenda Norrell is publisher of Censored News, focused on Indigenous Peoples and human rights, http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com, and a human rights columnist for Sri Lanka Guardian.