Mapuche political prisoner Facundo Jones Huala ends hunger strike after 24 days

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Today Facundo Jones Huala ended his hunger strike after 24 days. This article, produced a few days back, features an interview with Jones Huala himself and his mother about his health during the strike as well as the broader context of his incarceration.

Source: Marcha Noticias / By Luz Ailín Báez and Manuel López Mateo / The Dawn News / June 21, 2018

Facundo Jones Huala’s hunger strike that began 21 days ago, has had a dire impact on his health. From the prison he spoke about his situation, Mapuche and educational struggles of province of Chubut.

Facundo Jones Huala waits in the Unit 14 of Esquel (a town in the northwest of province of Chubut, in the Argentine Patagonia) for the resolution of Supreme Court of Justice on his extradition to Chile. He began a hunger strike 21 days ago protesting against Judge Gustavo Villanueva, who ordered the arrest of Lautaro González and Jones Huala, the youth who brought Rafael Nahuel down the hill, after he was fatally wounded by the security forces in Villa Mascardi. He also demands authorization to celebrate the ceremony of Wiñoy Tripantu (Mapuche New Year) with his community.

He looked thinner and paler. “We are tolerating a lot here, I’m a little sick after several days of hunger strike and I would like to say to all the people who can hear me, that it is important to fight for our rights”, said Jones Huala three days ago from the prison.

Maria Isabel Huala, Facundo’s mother, said today that “the news is not good at all. The Lonko is vomiting since he got up and yesterday in the afternoon they weighed him again and he weighed 72.700 kg. Now in the morning when they weighed him, his weight was 71.700 kg. He has sent us a lot of newen (strength in Mapundugún), I too sent him newen. But, well, he is losing weight very quickly. We will have to keep initiating actions so that the judges wake up and together with a lot of newen we must fight to change the decision of the judges”.

On June 15, in a radio interview, Jones Huala said: “It is important to recognize that this government has given a series of strong and harsh blows from a policy of State terrorism that we have been denouncing from the beginning. Although the conflict in particular of the Mapuche people is more structural and exceeds the current political context, whether it be Kirchnerism or Macrismo, we could predict that this government was going to be as harsh as it has been. When we raised these questions people did not believe us and well, now we are seeing all the consequences.”

“In our case, what happened with Santiago (Maldonado) and Rafael (Nahuel), two deaths in a row, was very hard. It is the policy of State terrorism that they use with us and which they obviously want to use at the same time with other sectors of oppressed people, the working class, the poor and the rest of ordinary Argentine people. We know that the Wichí are fighting, struggling for their equal rights, just like the Qom,” he said.

Referring to the province of Chubut, he believes that there is also a symbolic issue: “I see it with concern but also with great eagerness that this can be a kind of school for all sectors in the struggle of employed and unemployed workers. I am very surprised, even in this city of Esquel, the level of mobilization that has been achieved. Beyond the historical No a la Mina, knowing the type of society that Esquel and Chubut are, I think it is encouraging.”

Strike and Newen

“Regardless of how ugly the economic and political situation of the country and the province is, it is encouraging to see that people are struggling for their rights. It is also encouraging to see that this struggle opens the way and the vision to other larger struggles. Knowing that a lot of teachers are of Mapuche origin and in the health sector many nurses are of Mapuche and indigenous origin. This is important to me, to see your people fighting, it fills you with pride and gives you strength to continue.”

“I am on hunger strike from several days, sometimes I feel worse than at other times, sometimes I suddenly fall down, but these things also encourage me. Crises sometimes are opportunities and this is what our people have to take advantage of, the opportunities to generate change and not the same vicious circle as always.”

In dialogue with Marcha, Soraya Maincoño -spokesperson for the Pu Lof Cushamen- shared that “Lonko’s health condition has deteriorated, not because of being on hunger strike days for several days but because of a spiritual reason”. Despite all the efforts made so that there is a possibility for him to celebrate Wiñoy Tripantu, Judge Villanueva rejected his petition. The community’s representative explained that today they will carry out the ceremony in the territory, with the hope to later accompany Jones Huala with guests from other communities within the U14. She also warned that “currently, Facundo Jones Huala has lost around ten kilos. He is on a dry hunger strike: he is not even consuming fluids, which worries us because we know that this will directly lead to death only”. Finally she asked for “solidarity and empathy of the society in general and of the native people in particular”.

Lonko student, teachers in struggle.

Since he entered the prison, Facundo “attends classes”. “I never finished school so I had to self educate myself.” In relation to the strike and camp that the teachers of the whole province of Chubut are doing, the Lonko believes that: “I understand the value of education: many changes throughout history have been given from conscious professors, of revolutionary teachers”.

“What we need to understand is that the power is actually in our hands, in the hands of the people, the oppressed. And that this is one of the most important lessons that the teachers are giving: the struggle. This has changed a lot of things. This is the best way of dealing with the powers that are there in the south in Patagonia. And I believe that this should not be lost. I encourage them from here. Obviously for the matter of my people and I send even more support to the people of Mapuche origin with the teachers of rural areas. I know that they are all mobilized and that is interesting because it opens the panorama for other discussions. Above all, the school in Chubut, my province, the one I used to go to as a child, was one of the most reactionary schools. It is interested to start questioning the contents of education, from a questioning of expository and progressive projection, and begin to give other types of knowledge, to expand the critical thinking of the students” he exclaimed.

“We know what it is to resist, to endure repression. I remember when I was a boy that we occupied offices and a bunch of old Mapuche leaders occupied offices to demand our rights. At that time, there were not many people. Nowadays there are a lot more. So, in this sense, we know what sacrifice is. We know that you harvest after you sow, when you are struggling for bigger things that take time, and that is a very nice thing.”

Facundo is heard loud, with the strength of one has the support of his convictions: “There is nothing more beautiful than the people who fight for their rights, more in a society of oppression. This is the opportunity that the teachers have: teaching kids, students, our people how to fight, so that we do not alienate ourselves so much. This will open new possibilities of projection in our struggle of reconstruction and Mapuche Nationa’s liberation.”

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