WATCH: Mapuches Denounce Illegal Police Operations in Argentina

Mapuche Emilio Painemal speaks after a water ceremony in Chile in March 2017. Photo courtesy of PhotoLangelle.org

Indigenous Mapuche leaders have denounced that Argentine police entered their territory without a judicial order with the excuse of searching for disappeared activist Santiago Maldonado.

The Neuquen Mapuche Confederation said in a statement that police entered without consulting community authorities and trying to frame them for Maldonado’s disappearance.

“What until yesterday was a concern, today is an alarm in this Mapuche region of Neuquen,” the statement read.

“The government seeks to blame us for the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado. The police forces in uniform act without any limit.”

It’s been 45 days since Maldonado disappeared during a protest led by Indigenous Mapuches in Cushamen, where they demanded that the government return their land, which was given to the multinational Benetton Group company.

Matias Santana, a member of this community, claimed that he saw police detain Maldonado during the protest, a claim also supported by relatives.

“Only the quick reaction of the longko (authority) of the community prevented this abuse of power;” he said.

Despite centuries of resistance, the Mapuche people in the country are still struggling to maintain their lands and have their ancestral rights recognized by the government.

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