In an abbreviated procedure, which lasted two weeks, on December 14 lonko Facundo Jones Huala, a Mapuche authority of the Pu Lof from Cushamen, was convicted by the Chilean justice system for the crimes of arson and illegal possession of a firearm. A week later, Judge Francisco Olate of the Public Oral Court of Valdivia announced the sentence to 9 years in prison.
The ruling “presupposes” the participation of the defender of the indigenous territory in this deliberate fire to the estate Pisu Pisué in Río Bueno, which occurred in 2013. Four people had been acquitted of these charges and machi Millaray Huichalaf had been sentenced for one month for “covering” the deed.
Facundo Jones Huala is 32 years old. He is the lonko (political chief) of the Mapuche Cushamen community in Puelmapu, Argentina, province of Chubut. On June 27, 2017, a few days after the Wiñoy Tripantu (Mapuche New Year), he was arrested under an international warrant, accused of “terrorism”, with the intent of being extradited to Chile to be tried on this case, where charges had been acquitted for the other defendants four years before. Last year, on August 1, Santiago Maldonado joined a mobilization and roadblock calling for the release of Jones Huala. After a brutal repression by the Argentinian Gendarmerie and the eviction of the route without a court order, Maldonado disappeared on the banks of the Chubut River under a democratic government, and Jones Huala became a stigmatized public figure.
The extradition of lonko Jones Huala was achieved in March this year. In Valdivia he suffered the attacks of a judiciary that is increasingly performing political favors for the transnationals, according to social and human rights organizations.
Lonko’s brother, Fernando Jones Huala, said that there is no incriminating evidence but a set of clues. Facundo’s defender, Karina Riquelme, said that “the judicial power is an accomplice of the criminalization of the Mapuche people. Today they have condemned lonko Facundo Jones Huala without evidence. Litigating is in vain when sentences are written in advance. Macri, Bachelet and Piñera must be celebrating.”
Andrea Millañanco, spokesperson for the Pu Lof from Cushamen and partner of Facundo Jones Huala, said that the Mapuche people are living and resisting a “third invasion” in their territory: “First, it was the Spaniards; then the Chilean and Argentinian States, with what they called on the Argentinian side ‘the Conquest of the Desert’, even though there was no desert, but a territory occupied by our ancestors, and called by the Chilean side as ‘Pacification of the Araucanía’ to what actually was the killing of our people. And now we are facing the third invasion led by extractivist companies that use governments, politicians, judges and the police to meet their objectives. “
The police repress the struggles in the territories and the judges imprison, on both sides of the Andes mountain range, dozens of young people and Mapuche authorities, whose crimes, in most cases, are resisting projects such as “forestry, mining, hydroelectric dams and other extractive ventures”. The crime is, basically, not tolerating the land destruction”, said Millañanco in statements collected by Cítrica magazine.
That alternative publication also quoted Facundo Jones Huala’s mother, Isabel Huala, who underlined that this sentence marks a before and an after for the struggle of her people, since a lonko, “an authority that unites the people that was divided into two parts by Customs”, has been condemned and that is “being seen by the world”.