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Chile’s indigenous groups decry discrimination on Columbus Day | Colonialism News



Santiago, Chile – Thousands of protesters have marched in Chile‘s capital, Santiago, denouncing discrimination against the country’s indigenous peoples amid the annual Columbus Day commemorations. 

Protesters brought Santiago’s city centre to a standstill on Saturday as they rallied for the release of detained activists facing prosecution for campaigning against extractive industries, including logging and copper mining, on indigenous lands. 

The crowds also called for greater rights for indigenous people and the return of ancestral lands seized by the Chilean government and sold off to farmers and forestry companies in the past.

The demonstration came on Columbus Day, a national holiday that commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas in 1492. Indigenous people, however, mark it as the beginning of their resistance against European colonialism.

It is officially known as the Day of the Meeting of Two Worlds in Chile. 

Indigenous march Chile

 Chile’s indigenous groups mark Columbus day with celebration and protest [Amandla Thomas-Johnson/Al Jazeera]

Saturday’s march began with a small ceremony on a grassy patch of the central Plaza Italia, with a female shaman scattering dried corn as she prayed for protection. Onlookers blew animal horns, stamped sticks of bamboo on the ground and waved sprigs of the sacred Canelo tree.

Then, Belen Curamil, daughter of an indigenous leader detained for his activism against the construction of a dam in the Araucania region read out a letter from her father.

“Today we reaffirm that there is nothing to celebrate on these dates, but that we must make visible all the resistance that the community has made to the attacks of destruction that are being carried out by large national and international companies in our territory,” the letter from Alberto Curamil said.   

A range of political and indigenous groups came together for the march.

Black-clad anarchists from the capital walked beside twirling indigenous dancers from Chile’s north, as members of a Palestinian-Chilean football team lit flares and raised a banner featuring both Palestinian and indigenous political motifs. 

“We’re not here to celebrate the discovery of Columbus but actually the moment when we were invaded. We want to make ourselves visible and to show that we’re still alive,” said 41-year-old Jenifer Farias. 

Indigenous protests Chile

Palestinian-Chileans joined in the march waving symbols of Mapuche and Palestinian culture [Amandla Thomas-Johnson/Al Jazeera]

Manuel Rojas, dressed in a costume depicting a giant child, said he was marching in solidarity with his wife and children who are indigenous.

“I’m wearing this for the repression that is happening to children in Mapuche communities, because they suffer the most,” he said, referring to police raids that some communities say have traumatised their children.

Minor clashes broke out later in the day on the margins of the rally, with police firing tear gas and water cannon after some protesters threw stones and set fire to a bank. 

Some two million Chileans, or 10 percent of the population, identify as indigenous. The Mapuche are the largest indigenous group. 

In recent years, relations between the Chilean government and the Mapuche has become increasingly fraught because of mining and logging on land which the group claim as its own. Activists have increasingly turned to radical action, including arson, to reclaim the land. 

The Chilean government has cast branded as “terrorists”, prosecuting them through a Pinochet-era anti-terror law, even though United Nations experts have urged Chile to “refrain” from using the legislation against Mapuche people seeking to claim their rights.

“Our way is to let the land rest and not to exploit it, to fight against farming monoculture and mineral extraction and to protest the building of hydroelectric dams,” said Mapuche historian Claudio Alvarado Lincopi. 

“Our philosophy means that we do not believe that individual or governments can own the land.”

Daniela Millaleo, a 34-year-old Mapuche singer, said she was marching to celebrate “the simple fact of being alive”. 

“We are the descendants of those that they couldn’t kill,” she added. 




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Barcelona mayor pleads for violence in Catalonia to stop




The mayor of riot-stricken Barcelona pleaded Saturday for calm after violent protests by Catalan separatists rocked Spain’s second largest city for a fifth consecutive night.

“This cannot continue. Barcelona does not deserve it,” Mayor Ada Colau told reporters, adding that Friday’s violence was the worst so far.

Protesters clashed with police again later on Saturday despite efforts by some citizens to mediate by gathering between the two sides. There was also a skirmish between separatist supporters and police in a square in Spain’s capital, Madrid. Authorities are bracing for more protests in the coming days.

Radical separatists have fought with police every night in Barcelona and other Catalan cities following huge peaceful protests by people angered by Monday’s Supreme Court verdict that sentenced nine separatist leaders to prison for their roles in a failed 2017 secession attempt.

Pro-independence supporters scuffle with rioters trying to set up barricades on the street near a pro-independence demonstration in Barcelona on Saturday. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

More than 500,000 people gathered in downtown Barcelona on Friday in a massive show of support for the secession movement that is backed by roughly half of the wealthy northeastern region’s 5.5 million voters.

Before night fell, several hundred masked youths had surrounded the headquarters of the National Police and started a street battle that raged into the night in Barcelona, a popular tourist destination.

‘It has been quite scary,’ Torontonian says

“The images of organized violence during the night in Barcelona have overshadowed the half a million people who demonstrated in a peaceful and civic manner to show they rejected the verdict,” said Catalan interior chief Miquel Buch, who oversees the regional police.

Rioters have burned hundreds of trash bins and hurled gasoline bombs, chunks of pavement, acid, and firecrackers, among other objects, at police. They have used nails to puncture the tires of police vans and fireworks to hit one police helicopter, without doing it serious damage.

Outnumbered officers in riot gear from both Catalonia’s regional police and Spain’s national police have used batons, rubber and foam bullets, tear gas and water cannon to battle back.

Residents and tourists have run for cover.

Catalan pro-independence demonstrators pack the street in Barcelona. (Manu Fernandez/Associated Press)

“It has been quite scary,” said Deepa Khumar, a doctor from Toronto visiting for a medical conference. “This place, it looks like a war zone.”

500 injured this week

Authorities say over 500 people have been hurt this week, including protesters and police. Eighteen people remained hospitalized, at least one in very serious condition. Police have made over 150 arrests.

Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said that 101 police officers were injured on Friday alone and that 264 police vehicles have been severely damaged in the week’s riots.

Refuse workers clean up following a night of rioting on Saturday in Barcelona. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

A small group of supporters of Spanish unity approached the police headquarters that has been the focus of separatists’ rage to give officers flowers and gifts on Saturday.

“We feel so anguished,” said 54-year-old economist Maria Jesus Cortes. “There used to be a nice atmosphere here in Barcelona. Everybody with their own ideas, and that was it. We used to live in peace.”

Interior minister wants explicit condemnation of violence

Minister Grande-Marlaska asked Catalonia’s regional president to explicitly condemn the escalating violence and express his support for law enforcement officials.

“We have gone five days in which there has not been a firm condemnation of violence” by Catalan leader Quim Torra, Grande-Marlaska said.

Torra has called on protesters to respect the non-violent tenets of the separatist movement that has surged over the past decade.

But on Saturday Torra and his vice-president, Pere Aragones, used a televised address mostly to criticize the Supreme Court verdict. Aragones also insinuated that the national police, which are controlled by Madrid, had acted too aggressively with protesters.

Catalan leader demands meeting with PM

Torra demanded to meet Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to push his agenda for secession and freedom for the prisoners.

“We ask once again the acting Spanish PM to set the date and time to sit with us at a negotiating table,” Torra said. “Today this is more necessary than ever before.”

The prime minister’s office responded that “the government of Spain has always been in favour of dialogue, but within the confines of the law.”


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Funeral for Atatiana Jefferson canceled after family dispute




A funeral scheduled Saturday for Atatiana Jefferson, who was fatally shot in her home by a police officer in Fort Worth, Texas, was canceled because of a dispute between family members.

The shooting of Jefferson, 28, on Oct. 12 reignited a long-running debate about police use-of-force tactics, especially in the black community. Jefferson, who was black, was shot through a bedroom window by a white officer responding to a late-night report of an open door at the home.

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported that a local court granted her father, Marquis A. Jefferson, a temporary restraining order halting the funeral. He had argued that he was excluded by other family members from planning the funeral, and he wanted to participate.

Atatiana Jefferson.Family Photo

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The Potter’s House of Dallas, which was to host the service, announced the cancellation Saturday morning.

Marquis Jefferson also said he can afford to pay for his daughter’s funeral, and that supporters had unnecessarily set up a GoFundMe account seeking cash for the event.

Lee Merritt, an attorney for Atatiana Jefferson’s mother, Yolanda Carr, told the Dallas Morning News that former Dallas Mavericks player Harrison Barnes, his wife, Brittany Barnes, and Philadelphia Eagles player Malik Jackson would pay for the funeral.

Family members were due back in court Monday. Merritt said he believed a funeral would be held shortly thereafter, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.

Merritt tweeted Saturday that Carr had “hired me to seek justice for her daughter.”

“She has been very ill & unable to make media appearances,” he said of Carr. “We worked hard all week to get her prepared to attend her daughter’s funeral. This has been extremely hard on her.”

Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew when she heard noises outside, pulled a handgun from her purse, and pointed it toward the window before she was shot.

Officer Aaron Dean did not appear to immediately make his presence known or knock on her front door before he headed around the side of the house. A neighbor had called a non-emergency line to report an open front door there.

Dean later resigned and was arrested Monday on suspicion of murder. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office is seeking an indictment of murder against Dean by a grand jury.

Jay Varela contributed.


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Gideon's Army meets on October 19th, 2019 to FREE AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!



Gideon’s Army meets on October 19th, 2019 to FREE AMERICAN POLITICAL PRISONERS!


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