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Jones Huala: Santiago’s Disappearance Put a Spotlight on the Mapuche Problem

By | [email protected] | August 23, 2017 1:31pm

Jones Huala: Santiago’s Disappearance Put a Spotlight on the Mapuche Problem

As Santiago Maldonado remains missing after allegedly being taken by Border Patrol officers in the province of Chubut on Aug. 1, his disappearance also puts the spotlight on the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (RAM), a resistance group led by members of the Mapuche indigenous community in Patagonia that claims sovereignty of part of the Argentine and Chilean territory.

In a segment aired yesterday on LN+, the man who claims to be the leader of the organization, Jones Huala, gave an interview on the history of RAM.

Huala, currently in prison for burning down private property, says he is part of a “historic problem,” and that after attempting dialogue, his organization has come to the conclusion that a violent fight is the best way to reach its goals.

And these goals are clear: the destruction of capitalism and private property. He says he won’t rule out “any kind of fight” and accused Luciano Benetton – the largest land owner in Patagonia – of becoming rich “thanks to the effort of workers and the looting of poor people.”

Speaking from prison in Chubut, where he awaits extradition to Chile, Huala has a clear idea of what he wants. “I benefit from all this press. It’s good for publicity, even if what you’re saying isn’t true. It’s good publicity for my people.”

He said Maldonado’s disappearance has helped RAM’s case since it has brought their fight to the national stage. “It has made our problems visible,” he said. He assured that the kind of repression that Maldonado was a victim of “is the same one we’ve been suffering for the last 130 years”.

He argues that RAM was started due to the Mapuche community’s need to defend itself and recover its land. Since he’s no longer involved in its daily activities (because he’s in prison), he claims he doesn’t know its current strategy or how many people are active in it. He did, however, say that there’s a “high price to pay” for their fight, such as “the disappearance of an innocent man,” but it’s part of their struggle.