The Mapuche

Posted on January 6, 2013


The Mapuche, an indigenous nation from South America, were never defeated by Spanish colonizers. The Mapuche are a decentralized or “circular” society and fought back against colonization much more effectively than the hierarchical Inca. In fact, after beating the Spaniards, their territories were recognized in perpetuity. This treaty was only broken in the 1880s when Chile and Argentina, backed by Great Britain (the greatest military power of the time) invaded the Mapuche lands simultaneously. The Mapuche continue to resist forcefully and they use direct action to recover their lands from timber companies and white landlords who have usurped them. The Mapuche often wear masks to protect their identities during protests and actions. The Chilean state often uses antiterrorism laws against them. Riots recently broke out in Santiago, Chile’s capital, as masked Mapuche attacked Spanish banks, highlighting the history of colonialism, in revenge for the murder of a Mapuche youth by police. (Note that in the BBC video, the British journalist mistakenly says that Mapuche lands were “allegedly” stolen 500 years ago, when in fact the British helped steal the lands just over a century ago, in a process of colonization by multinational companies that continues today).

Masked Mapuche attack a bank

Masked Mapuche attack a bank