EspañolOn Wednesday, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) delivered a major upheaval with their ruling on the case of Mapuche indigenous leaders, members, and activists vs. Chile. The six on the court who presided over the case have mandated that Chile’s central government revoke the terrorism sentence and conviction against seven Mapuche individuals and one activist.
The case dates back to arson incidents in 2001 and 2002, which took place in the Biobío and Arucanía regions. The seven — including activist Patricia Roxana Troncoso Roble and one Mapuche who is now deceased — were indicted in 2003 under the Anti-Terrorist Law. The charges were for setting fire to trucks that were transporting industrial materials.
Now the Bachelet administration must revoke the prison terms and civil penalties, wipe their records, and grant them freedom without condition. In addition, they will need to annul any national or international record linking the individuals to terrorist acts.
According to the IACHR decision, “the state must adopt judicial, administrative, or other measures to revoke, in every way, the prison terms ordered.” Furthermore, the international court has determined that the state must implement measures to compensate those wrongly condemned, since “any violation of an international obligation that has caused damage must adequately remedy the damage caused.”
José Antonio Gómez, Chile’s minister of Justice, declared on Wednesday that Chile will comply with the IACHR ruling.
The executive director of the Intercultural Chile Foundation, Venancio Coñuepan, explained two relevant aspects of the ruling to the PanAm Post: “First, it restores the justice denied to the Mapuche people for a long time. Second, it solves the debate about the enforcement of the anti-terrorist law in matters related to the misnamed Mapuche Conflict, which will force the state to rethink public policy towards the indigenous community”
Compensation That Fits the Damages?
One of the most important aspects of the judicial decision is the need for restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and financial compensation to redress the victims.
Restitution measures refer to ways to void the legal penalties on the victims, and the IACHR includes this as a redress. However, if complications impede full restitution, the court mandates other measures to guarantee the violated rights and remedy the consequences of the infringements.
Rehabilitation measures include medical and psychological attention for the victims. The IACH requests the “coverage of all future medical expenses that the victims and their families will need as a consequence of the violation of their rights.” Even though the ruling does not indicate a concrete sum, it specifies “access to health benefits (both physical and psychological treatments) for the victims and their families. This must be done with an intercultural criteria.”
Satisfaction measures include publication and release of the decision, along with “additional compensation in the form of study grants for the children of the victims” to remedy “intangible damages.” In other words, the Chilean state will have to award study grants to public institutions that cover all the costs of their education until they finish their higher education, be it at a technical college or university.
The decision also includes financial compensation for material damages (monetary and physical) and non-pecuniary damages (psychological and sentimental), in addition to reimbursement for the costs and expenses incurred by the victims. The court determined that each victim shall receive US$50,000 in compensation for both kinds of damages. Taxpayers will also have to pay US$29,000 in fees and judicial costs incurred by the victims.
According to Coñuepan, the compensation measures are those that the IACHR could impose, given the details of the case. However, he says that Chile’s own public officials can do a lot more to address the Mapuche cause.
Next Stop: Anti-Terrorist Law Reform
Coñuepan believes that is necessary to reform Chile’s anti-terrorist law, since this latest case undermines its enforcement: “The legitimate demands of the Mapuche people must not be confused with terrorism,” he says.
He added that violence must always be condemned, no matter where it comes from. However, there are “indigenous territorial claims that possess the rightful title deeds that the state of Chile must first acknowledge, then respect, and finally restore.”
Coñuepan also claims that the anti-terrorist law is full of loopholes, making it an undemocratic tool: “The law does not clearly define the criminal offense of terrorism, and there are forms of proof, such as protected witnesses, that blur ethical boundaries. Besides, the law is inefficient, as the ministry of Interior Rodrigo Peñailillo acknowledged some days ago.”
Regarding this point, Chile’s minister of justice has indeed said that the Chilean state was already convinced — even before the ruling — of the need to reform the law.
According to Gomez, though, is not up to him “to evaluate whether it was appropriate or not to enforce the anti-terrorist law at that time.” He says that from now on all the correct measures needs to be taken so Chile can have a legislation that abides by international standards and protects citizens’ rights. He adds that the anti-terrorist law has been completely useless in terms of address the problems originally targeted.
EspañolJust like at the height of the Cold War, the socialist heads of Venezuela — Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro — have made names for themselves with their inflammatory, anti-imperialist rhetoric against the United States: the "empire" has received every kind of accusation, from conspiracies hatched with the support of the local opposition, to the ridiculous claim that the cancer that prematurely killed Chávez was injected. However, one should remember that the United States is neither a true empire nor has it behaved as such in recent years. The doubts and policy mistakes of US President Barack Obama demonstrate an extreme policy of indifference from the north towards the Venezuelan dictatorship, going back to the years of George W. Bush. But this does not mean that Venezuela, guided by unrealistic criteria and a completely mistaken vision of the economy, is becoming less dependent on other world powers. The main one is China, the one that calls itself communist, even though its economy has boomed on the back of free-market reforms and greater openness. China is attracting various countries, who now buy their products and receive Chinese investments. Venezuela is one of them. The country suffers a shortage of foreign currency, despite huge oil revenue: Chávez spent generously and recklessly on those countries that he wanted to join his bloc, while chavismo is characterized by a social policy of handing out money without adequate consideration. The regime has invested little or nothing in infrastructure; it has bought up once-successful private businesses with significant sums of money, while failing to improve the oil industry. PDVSA, the state-owned oil company lost almost 20,000 members of its most qualified staff when Chávez fired them one decade ago without any basis. Ever since, it has been unable to recover prior production levels, about 3 million barrels per day. That number stands at barely over 2.3 million barrels per day. China, therefore, is lending Venezuela the funds it urgently needs. In the last seven years, the South American country has received over US$40 billion in exchange for oil production, and two funds — the Chinese-Venezuelan Mixed Fund and the Chinese-Venezuelan Heavy Fund — were established to allegedly finance big development projects. The poorly managed investments by the local government have not yet paid off, and it remains to be seen that they will do so in the near future. The money arriving to the country, sooner or later, will have to be paid back to China. How does Venezuela, which has almost ran out of foreign-currency reserves, pay the debt accumulated with the giant Asian? She shall use none other than petroleum, the oil crude that could be sold to get the money urgently needed. At present, the debt is being paid with an average of 524,000 barrels per day, and the trajectory suggests that this amount will increase until it reaches 1 million barrels in a couple of years. This oil shipments to China, amounting to almost one quarter of the total oil production of the country, should be added to the approximately 100,000 barrels that Venezuela ships to Cuba on a daily basis. This supports the island's inefficient economy, and, by doing so, the Castro brothers' dictatorship. Petrocaribe, another initiative by Chávez, consumes an important portion of the total oil production, essentially given away for free with better conditions than those in the international markets. Amid these numbers emerges a daunting reality for Venezuela: oil production, the backbone of the national economy, is almost completely mortgaged for many years. After making payments to China, subsidizing local consumption, and fulfilling other political commitments, only 500,000 barrels will be available for sale at the present lucrative prices on the market. While China ensures the supply of the important raw material for their development at bargain prices, Venezuelans will continue to see their real income in terms of US dollars fall during the coming years. The economic crisis Venezuela is living today will deepen, with devaluations and out-of-control inflation as consequences. Without saying that the Chinese government will act as an imperialist power from now on, I will say, however, that they are making very good deals with Venezuela. They are taking advantage of the incompetence and ideological blindness of governments that still believe in the failed economic recipes of socialism. Translated by Adam Dubove.