A Chilean Court Tries a Mapuche Leader Who Brought Weapons and Ammunition From Cuba

Llaitul is famous for launching, on different platforms, several “declarations of war” against the Chilean State/ Infobae

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, March 21, 2024 — The Chilean Police revealed on Wednesday that Héctor Llaitul, leader of the armed organization Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco and imprisoned for his responsibility in multiple attacks, bought and transferred “large-caliber weapons” and “ammunition” from Cuba. The experts found on the accused’s cell phone “different conversations” about a trip to Havana to acquire weapons, which were presented in the trial against Llaitul in Temuco, in the Chilean region of La Araucanía.

A confessed defender of political violence, supporter of the regimes of Havana and Caracas, Llaitul kept on his phone information about efforts to transfer the weapons – “with their respective ammunition” – from the Island through the border of Chile with Argentina. The Police also showed photographs of different attacks taken by the accused, who sent them to the media.

Neither the Cuban government nor the official press – which usually publishes communiqués and apologies from the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator – has commented on the accusations against Llaitul for the time being. On the Island there are no private sellers of military weapons, and the arsenals are owned by the Army, so any acquisition and transfer of “large-caliber weapons” cannot have gone unnoticed by the authorities.

Llaitul was also a regular and “honored” guest in Caracas, where the regime of Nicolás Maduro has shown its “solidarity with his  causes and struggles several times   

Llaitul was also a regular and “honored” guest in Caracas, where Nicolás Maduro’s regime has shown its “solidarity with his causes and struggles” several times. During one of his last visits, in 2018, he was received by then Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza and Adán Chávez, brother of the late caudillo Hugo Chávez.

After hearing the report from investigators, the prosecutor stressed that the telephone messages will not only serve for Llaitul’s case, but will also serve as a background for investigations against others accused of violent acts and, subsequently, during the trials for other charges against the leader of the armed group.

“The content of the phone shows when instructions are given for the transfer of weapons and [conversations] to make decisions about who will participate in certain events or attacks,” explained prosecutor Héctor Leiva, who clarified that the current trial focuses only on the charges of theft, usurpation and violations of the State Security Law. If he is found guilty after the trial – which will last 29 days – he could remain in prison for 25 years.

Llaitul is famous for launching, on different platforms, several “declarations of war” against the Chilean State and exhortations to an armed uprising. During the trial, the Prosecutor’s Office read excerpts from his book Chem Ka Rakiduam [Thought and Action], written in the Mapuche language, where Llaitul affirms: “We are responsible (the members of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator) for political violence as a coherent response to our right to rebellion.”

Llaitul himself, in his long plea – it took him two days to read it before the court – declared on March 13 that he considered himself a “political prisoner” and the “visible face” of the conflict between the Mapuche and the Chilean State. He criticized the authorities for calleing him a “terrorist” when the United Nations invited him to speak in Switzerland five years ago.

“What for you is or can be a crime, for us is justice, a duty   

About political violence, he was clear: “What for you is or can be a crime, for us is justice, a duty,” he said, adding that he was not making “an apology for violence.”

In 2021, the Chilean Police wrote a report on the weapons used by armed groups in southern Chile, where Llaitul was suspected of being linked to the presence of weapons in the region. Llaitul was a member of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, an organization that opposed the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 80s and had weapons supplied by Fidel Castro.

According to police sources, Havana had then sent to Chile “80 tons of weapons and explosives, among which were Colt M-16 rifles, 5.56 caliber.” “This arsenal was seized,” the report said, but “not in its entirety,” so it was not ruled out that the Mapuches continued to use it.

However, this information is not mentioned in the trial. According to the Chilean press, the conversations found on Llaitu’s phone about the acquisition of weapons from Cuba are recent.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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