On 30 April 2020 I received a message from Red de Acción por los Derechos Ambientales RADA‘s Alejandra Parra that people were evicted from the Mapuche land re-occupation in Liempi Colipi near Curacautin, Chile. The re-occupation started in early November of 2019. Later that month, Alejandra, Anne Petermann and myself from Global Justice Ecology Project, and Biofuelwatch‘s Gary Hughes went to Liempi Colipi. We were traveling as a documentary team in Chile covering the peoples’ uprising.
When I heard that people had been evicted from this community, it struck home. The people in the community had been so generous with us. They made fry bread, and allowed us to take photos and video of one of their ceremonies–a rare privelege. They showed us around the beautiful land they live in, surrounded by volcanoes, and the next day we joined them on the blockade on US Thanksgiving Day.
That morning, 28 November, the Mapuche communities of Liempi Colipi defended their land occupation when Carabineros de Chile (national police) fired rubber coated metal pellets, injuring several people at the blockade. We shot a one minute video of a Mapuche who came back to the re-occupation the same day as he was shot. You can watch it here: “Thanksgiving Day” Mapuche Indigenous Land Occupation, Chile.
The following feature uses photography and video from the two days we were in the community, and includes an interview with Roberto Cheuquepan, the “Werken” (spokesperson) of the Liempi Colipi community on the recent eviction there along with news from Chile’s INTERFERENCIA.
Carabineros Special Forces move in to Liempi Colipi
– by Orin Langelle, Startegic Communications Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
in a statement sent to us, Werken Roberto Cheuquepan said, “Yesterday [29 April 2020] we, the Liempi Colipi community, were evicted by Carabineros (national police) Special Forces of the municipality of Pailahueque, following an eviction order on behalf of Ms. María Luisa Lyon, current “legal” landowner of the Fundo Santa Filomena that the community is in the process of regaining.”
The current tenant, José Miguel Chaín, has a lease contract for the Fundo and was implicated in the eviction.
The Werken continued, “Yesterday, when we arrived at the place of the eviction, where a family from Punto Fijo also lives, in a building used in the past by the caretakers of the Fundo, a Special Forces unit was evicting that family.” He added, “In the context of this pandemic that is affecting the whole world, we did not wish to confront the special forces, as that would mean exposing elder people and those with chronic health issues in our now already reduced Community. So there were no clashes or injuries.”
There is “a growing repression toward communities,” said the Werken. “This eviction continues as the Lyon family wants to destroy the houses that currently stand in the Fundo, but demolition could not be done yesterday as the special forces had to retreat and the heavy machinery could not enter the Fundo. But the community is currently threatened with the destruction of the house in which one of our families now lives.”
When asked what could be done in the U.S. regarding the current situation in Mapuche territory, Werken Cheuquepan said, “the most important thing now is to disseminate what is happening in the Mapuche communities in the context of this pandemic, in which the Chilean State is spending money and resources, sending Special Forces and exposing our communities to disease, without knowing if such forces have undergone any medical tests. It would be very important that what is happening in Chile, particularly in the La Araucanía region, where Mapuche communities, more than ever, are struggling to recover their lands and their Mapuche way of life, and to do so we also need to start recovering our territory, the lands that have been usurped by the landowning oligarchy, by colonists, by forestry corporations.”
From the site of Chile’s INTERFERENCIA regarding Mary Luisa Lyon’s riches in the forestry sector:
Maria Luisa Lyon has a pine plantation on the farm, shares in CMPC and is married to Manuel Montt Balmaceda, a descendant of the emblematic Montt family, founding rector and member of the Superior Board of Directors of the Fundación Universidad Diego Portales. The marriage has five daughters and eleven grandchildren.
Lyon is listed as a shareholder with less than 1% of the ownership of Empresas CMPC SA This is equivalent to 85 million dollars, since FORBES magazine (Global 2000) in its 2019 publication, reported that the market value of the company corresponds to $ 8.5 billion.
According to a BBC World article, these plantations are fast growing, just like eucalyptus, and although they pose a threat to native species, they exist for an economic reason…satisfying demand for products derived from forests, such as wood and cellulose, although they cause dryness in the soil and groundwater layers.
INTERFERENCIA reported that members of the Mapuche community witnessed a conversation between the Lonko (community leader) of Liempi Colipi, Juan Huenuhueque, and the owner of the estate Maria Luisa Lyon. The Lonko asked Lyon not to send in the Carabineros Special Forces into Mapuche territory anymore.
INTERFERENCIA said that according to witnesses Lyon replied that the Mapuche of Liempi Colipi have “a hatred against working people” and that she considers “what they have done to be evil”. In addition, according to these witnesses, Lyon told the community leader that “we are in a world of civilized people,” and that they must stop doing “wild” things. And Lyon said they would be forgiven…”if they know how to use computers– to update and be people.”
Special thanks to Alejandra Parra, Joám Evans Pim, Anne Petermann, Gary Hughes and Cassandra for their assistance in this post.
Please see the four minute video: Mapuche People Speak Out About Their Occupation of Ancestral Territories in Chile
a video made for participants at COP 25 – UN Convention on Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain VIDEO: STATEMENT TO COP25 FROM MAPUCHE & OTHERS IN CHILE – NO MARKET-BASED “SOLUTIONS”
Buffalo, NY: Due to the current public health emergency and recommendations for events not to exceed fifty people, the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art is postponing our April 3 First Friday event. The opening reception for our new exhibit, Chile: Peoples’ Uprising, will be rescheduled for a later date. We will be sure to inform you of the new date for the exhibit opening when we make that determination.
Chile: Peoples’ Uprising
Images from the Front Lines
Exhibit Opens April 3
BUFFALO, NY – The ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art will present documentary photography and videography from the ongoing peoples’ uprising in Chile that started in October of last year. The images were shot by the gallery co-directors, Orin Langelle and Anne Petermann in the months of November and December, 2019 from the front lines of the uprising.
The Opening Reception of Chile: Peoples’ Uprising will be held during Allentown’s First Friday event on April 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served at the ¡Buen Vivir! Gallery for Contemporary Art, 148 Elmwood Avenue at Global Justice Ecology Project space.
A massive popular uprising in Chile began on October 18, 2019, and continues to this day. Millions are demanding a new economic and political system in Chile and a new Constitution.Chile’s existing Constitution was written during the Pinochet Dictatorship, ushered in during a military coup supported by the U.S. in 1973.
Today Peoples’ Assemblies are taking part in all regions of Chile to create a process that will rewrite the new constitution. Chile’s President Piñera is trying to take control of this process and to crush the protests with extreme violence and repression.
Petermann and Langelle documented street protests including clashes between activists and Carabineros (national police) in the cities of Santiago and Temuco.
As of the first week of March of this year reports state that since the uprising began in October, 36 activists have died, more than 28,000 Chileans have been detained and 4,080 minors arrested. Additionally over 11,000 have been injured by the Carabineros. Shotguns loaded with rubber-coated metal pellets deliberately aimed at protesters’ faces have caused 445 serious eye wounds. Many people have partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes. In addition, several protesters have been run over by armored vehicles.
Langelle and Petermann also traveled to two indigenous Mapuche land re-occupations, where communities had taken back 1,500 hectares of their ancestral lands, stolen from them during the dictatorship. On U.S. Thanksgiving, they took photos and video interviews after Carabineros shot and teargassed people in the re-occupation.
On Tuesday, April 7, Jim Shultz, Executive Director of the Democracy Center, will launch his newest book My Other Country, Nineteen Years in Bolivia? in the BV Gallery from 7 – 9 p.m. The full moon event commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Cochabamba Water Revolt in Bolivia that Shultz was involved in and helped publicize.
The gallery is free and open to the public.
Contact: Theresa Church [email protected]
Santiago de Chile: Water cannons chase crowd. A caustic liquid was mixed with the water to irritate the skin and lungs. Water cannons were strategically used to target street medics and the Red Cross.
Santiago de Chile: Depicting blood and eyeballs in the hands of the government. This guerrilla theater on International Human Rights Day, December 10th, commemorated the (then) 350+ eyes injured, some permanently by the Carabineros de Chile (national police) who intentionally shot people in the face with shotguns filled with rubber-coated metal pellets during the protests.
This young Mapuche is from the community of Quilape Lopez, Chile, which is re-occupying stolen ancestral lands. Elders say the young are the future of the Mapuche, as is the land.
all photos by Orin Langelle / photolangelle.org
This video includes many of my photographs – Orin Langelle
This video was shot over the week of 25 November, during the trial of Mapuche Lonko Alberto Curamil over manufactured charges that he was involved in a robbery.
In fact, his arrest and subsequent year and a half in jail awaiting trial are understood to have been retribution for his role in leading a campaign that stopped two hydroelectric projects on the Rio Cautín, a sacred river to the Mapuche, the headwaters of which start in the snowfields of the Lonquimay volcano.
In the video, his attorney Rodrigo Román speaks about the case and the greater issue of state repression against Mapuche people, whose land has long been the target of expropriation for industrial timber plantations. As another Mapuche Lonko explained, “first they stole our land, now they want to steal our rivers.”
Also please visit Mapuche Lonko Alberto Curamíl Acquitted of All Charges
2019 Goldman Environmental Prize winner to walk out a free man
22 November to 6 December 2019
I Can Still Spit
Field Notes – I landed in Santiago, Chile on 22 November from Buffalo, NY via Toronto with Anne Petermann. Anne is the Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project and we are married life partners. We crashed for a couple of hours in Hotel Forestal. That afternoon we met up with Gary Hughes from Biofuelwatch and we hit the ground running to start covering, exploring and understanding the peoples’ rebellion in Chile.
We are the team for CHILE CLIMATE NEWS. My photos start here in Santiago and the diaries cover that day of arrival and the street protest we joined, and are followed by our subsequent journey to Temuco, Curacautin, and the Mapuche land occupations at Liempi Colipi and Quilape Lopez, and eventually back to Santiago. In Temuco we met the other partner of the team, Alejandra Parra from RADA, the Environmental Rights Action Network. We met Alejandra back in 2004 when we first came to Chile to work with the Mapuche group KONAPEWMAN on the problem of genetically engineered trees and industrial tree plantations.
On this journey we covered marches against a toxic new waste-to-energy incinerator planned for Mapuche territory (being promoted as “green renewable energy,” a powerful women’s march in Temuco, land occupations in remote Mapuche territory where we spent good times with the kind and generous communities of Liempi Colipi and Quilape Lopez and the hard times when members of the Liempi Colipi occupation called to tell us the Carabineros de Chile (national police) had raided their community, using tear gas and shooting people with rubber coated metal pellets. We dropped everything and went to the community.
More copy after the video produced by Global Justice Ecology Project’s Steve Taylor.
I Can Still Spit continued…
Okay WTF does ‘I can still spit’ mean? Gary Hughes from our team told me early on in the trip that if you are afraid, as long as you can still spit, it’s ok. If you can’t spit, you better get out of whatever situation you’re in very quickly and maybe you shouldn’t even be where you are. I have questioned a few times if I should have been in particular situations. When the Carabineros came charging at us from the middle of nowhere, where people have been shot and then in other situations when I was choking from teargas, I did briefly question why I was there. But I could still spit. I had to be there because that is what I do. It is what I have done for 50 years now.
The reason I could still spit was because of the people. With the Mapuche, who welcomed us, not only into their community that also fed us, but onto the front lines when no one knew what the outcome would be if the Carabineros attacked the occupation. I could still spit because I knew and deeply felt I was part of something bigger than myself. I could spit because, although the adrenaline was pumping, although I fell and injured my leg climbing over a blockade, I was with strong, kind and generous people.
And then I knew I could continue spitting (at the elites and their police) back in Santiago the evening of 6 December when the Plaza de la Dignidad lit up with red flares, fires and lasers. The exuberance of the scene. The hope.
I’m putting these photos and diary together after International Human Rights Day on 10 December where I covered the activities in Santiago, and where the authorities did anything but honor human rights, including critically injuring a 15 year old girl with a teargas canister to her head. Visuals: How Chile Dealt with International Human Rights Day.
We originally planned to come to Chile when we heard the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP25 would be here. For Anne and I, after covering so many COPs, from our first COP in Buenos Aires in 2004, then to Montreal, Nairobi to Bali, Poznan, Copenhagen, Mexico, and our final COP in Durban in 2011, coming back to Chile was to stand up against the final nail being driven into life itself with the capitalist’s scheme for the total commodification of Earth and all its inhabitants. A scheme greenwashed with the name “natural climate solutions” – solutions for corporations to use nature to maintain business as usual while pretending to address climate change through biodiversity and carbon offsets. The same old same old, but with new shiny packaging. Plus, we knew Chileans protesters knew how to throw a party. This was before the uprising began. Little did we dream we would walk into a revolution-in-process.
I was accredited as media from the UN climate COP25 originally scheduled for Santiago, Chile. Due to the popular rebellion in Chile and the government’s desperate desire to hide its human rights crimes–like rape, torture and 350+ eyes lost to carabinero shotguns, COP25 was moved to Madrid, Spain. I also received UN accreditation there. I chose to come to Chile and photograph the people in resistance instead of going to Madrid.
Madrid is the uplifting of the neoliberal model to use false solutions to climate change – Chile is the fight against that neoliberal model.
I will still spit because I must.
PLEASE FOLLOW GLOBAL JUSTICE ECOLOGY PROJECT & THE BIOFUELWATCH TEAM IN CHILE:
On the morning of Thursday 28 December the Mapuche communities of Liempi Colipi and Quilape Lopez mobilized to defend their land occupation after Carabineros de Chile (national police) fired metal-filled rubber pellets and injured several people at the blockade.
After the photo essay, a short video follows.
All photos by Orin Langelle and video by Anne Petermann.
TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS VIDEO
We want to make a public statement to the Chilean territory, to Mapuche people, to the whole country, to inform about this situation where riot policemen have done things here in the Liempi Colipi community, in the district of Curacautín, La Araucanía region. They have entered the community today-the riot policemen-without any previous dialogue, any eviction order. When we reached them to have a conversation, they started shooting tear gas canisters. They started shooting at us, and one of them passed by no more than fifteen meters away from me. So, we make a public statement for you to be aware of this. There are more injured peñis, on their arms, on their stomach, in their tummy. So, we encourage you to pay attention to this, to be prepared because the riot police officers are coming after us again. Marichiweu! (We shall win a hundred times in Mapudungun!)”
April 17 – Mayday
University of Mount Union – Alliance, Ohio
Langelle will be a Featured Artist and Lecturer
Earth Month Exhibit: Extreme Weather – Portraits of Struggle
April 17th to May 1st, 2019
Hoover-Price Campus Center
420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH
Free and Open to the Campus Community and the Public
Artist Reception and Presentation
April 25th, 2019 – 4 p.m. to 6 pm.
Hoover-Price Campus Center Alumni Room
420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH
Free and Open to the Campus Community and the Public
For Immediate Release April 9, 2019
Available for interviews: Orin Langelle <[email protected]>
Photojournalist Known for Documenting Environmental
Justice Struggles Presents Images of Climate Change
University of Mount Union Showing
Buffalo, NY— Award-winning documentary photographer Orin Langelle shows his exhibit, Extreme Weather – Portraits of Struggle, this month at the University of Mount Union. The exhibit opens on April 17 and runs to May 1 in the Hoover-Price Campus Center, 420 W Simpson St, Alliance, OH.
Langelle’s body of work spanning over five decades specializes in social and environmental justice struggles. He was recently interviewed on WBDX in Southern Illinois about this exhibit at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The interview can be found here.
There will be an Artist Reception and Presentation on April 25, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hoover-Price Campus Center’s Alumni Room. Langelle will speak on the many social and political reasons why the Earth is facing climate catastrophe.
Langelle stated, “My photographs are united by the intertwined threads of social, economic or ecological injustice and peoples’ resilience or resistance to them. Showing how these issues are intrinsically linked is crucial to understanding the whole–to seeing the big picture–instead of compartmentalizing each separately. I believe we must understand that everything is interconnected. The root causes of these problems are often one and the same.”
Jeff Conant, Director, Friends of the Earth’s international forests program said, “Orin Langelle is one of the great documentarians of the last several decades…You look at his photos and you cannot forget that power concedes nothing without a struggle…and that this struggle takes place somewhere, somehow, everyday and everywhere”
Both events are free and open to the campus community and the public.
Grabbing by Capitalism
Buffalo, NY’s Anti-Gentrification Summit
plus land grabs, climate change connections
by Orin Langelle
On 17 November 2018, the OUR CITY coalition presented the Second Annual Anti-Gentrification Summit and said it would be “a day of inspiration and workshops that will help arm the citizens of Buffalo with the tools and information needed to combat the issues that matter most to us – the people!” The Summit took place at the East High School in Buffalo, NY’s East Side. The East Side is one of the most polluted areas in Buffalo.
Keynote speaker Jacqueline Patterson, NAACP’s coordinator and co-founder of its Environmental and Climate Justice Program, addressed the large diverse crowd on such themes such as climate change, capitalism and the power of the people to stand together in determination and love.
Some of the workshops scheduled at the Summit included ‘From Undocumented to Citizen: Building a City Where All Immigrants are Able to Live With Dignity and Their Rights Protected,’ ‘There’s More Than One Justice. How about Climate?’ along with ‘Collective Ownership for Community Wealth’ to name a few.
Global Justice Ecology Project‘s Executive Director Anne Petermann and I attended the conference after we were invited by Clarke Gocker, Director of Policy and Strategy of PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing). We both had heard of PUSH and knew a little about them, but started to know more about them when I presented last month in Resilience: Through the Lens, a photo class for the community, organized by The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. Clarke was one of the people who attended.
The following week Clarke and I got together at the PUSH offices to discuss the Summit. He thought it would it would be good if I could do a workshop during the Summit. Due to a variety of circumstances the workshop didn’t happen this time.
Clarke told me when we met at the PUSH offices prior to the Summit that he was inspired by my work documenting the resistance of communities, both globally and nationally. And how my photos on displacements–such as schemes to take Indigenous Peoples’ lands that would lead to the relocation of those communities, to other communities standing up to displacement due to fracked gas pipelines–could connect to anti-gentrification work. I never thought of my work relating to gentrification, but it made sense.
Most of my life I’ve worked to find and expose the intersections between ecology and economics; helping bridge one issue to other issues to help build anti-capitalist solidarity. But like so many others there is almost always is a disconnect of issues somewhere and gentrification was my disconnect. It is no longer.
Many of us who have worked for the planet, for communities and for the people have had instances of not finding, or unable to build, the bridges necessary for open dialogue. It happens far more too often than it should.
Gentrification and other Land Grabs can be bridges of understanding between those who live in cities and those who live in less populated communities. And like it or not, climate chaos is a bridge to the mutual aid we all must practice because I don’t believe the government will be of much assistance except to help the ruling class that is predominantly white.
An interesting article, HOW THE RICH WILL SURVIVE CLIMATE CHANGE DISASTER was published online in The Outline. Here is the final paragraph:
We are entering a dystopian future in which class-privileged white people are using privatized systems and their obscene wealth to avoid the catastrophic environmental effects of the racist capitalist system that they forced upon the world. While they are funding these privatized resource systems with the wealth they built off of marginalized peoples, wealthy white people are simultaneously supporting Trump in droves, who blamed forest management for [the California] fires and derided a United Nations report released last month finding that the world has 12 years to avert global environmental catastrophe. These fires and their disparate impact demonstrate a necessity for structural action on climate change and support for those who will be most harmed—poor people and people of color.
On a much brighter note it was great to see and talk, unfortunately only briefly, with Jacqui Patterson. Anne Petermann I have known Jacqui for over a decade due to working on Climate Justice issues nationally and internationally. Not many people can say that they’ve driven into a hurricane so they could be there to be of assistance. Jacqui can.
I was honored last week to present some of my photography for a class, ‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ to community photographers in Buffalo, NY.
‘Resilience: Through the Lens’ was organized by Rebecca Newberry, the Executive Director of The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, and Lauren Tent, the Education Director for the CEPA Gallery | Contemporary Photography and Visual Arts Center. My presentation to the class was held on October 4, 2018 at the CEPA Gallery.
I’m a member of CEPA and a co-recipient of Gallery’s 2017 Member’s Exhibition Award (please see the bottom of this post for further information regarding that exhibition and my subsequent solo show at CEPA’s Flux Gallery).
Although part of my presentation concerned my national and international photography that I have used to expose social, economic and ecological injustice, my main focus was my work with people of different communities. I showed photographs of the first concentration camp of Ayoreo Indigenous Peoples in Paraguay (above left), resistance in Amador Hernandez, an Indigenous village in the jungle of Mexico’s state of Chiapas (second above left) and most recently a detailed look into my work with Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by Freedmen and slaves.
The community of Union Hill is fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and a 55,000 horsepower compressor station planned by Dominion Energy. There are Freedmen and slave unmarked burial sites on or near the site where Dominion wants to build the compressor station.
Local residents see Dominion Energy’s disregard for their community as part of an established pattern of environmental racism in Virginia. The African American community fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a strong and proud community.
While at the burial site in Union Hill (above right) I was allowed to capture the intense feelings of the people present. To all it was a sad moment but, also a sense of closure to know where their ancestors are buried.
I discussed the impact that my photos and strategic communications had – and are still having.
This was no doubt one of my best experiences in sharing my images that are meant to foster social change while documenting history. The attendees at CEPA asked very pertinent questions and we engaged in an inspiring dialogue about photography and social change.
More on Orin Langelle and CEPA
On January 27, 2017 the CEPA Gallery (Contemporary Photography & Visual Arts Center) opened its yearly CEPA Gallery Members’ Exhibition. CEPA Gallery’s 2017 Members’ Exhibition featured the photography and photo-related work of some of Western New York’s most talented artists.
Photographers Natalie Dilenno and Orin Langelle received the 2017 Exhibition Awards.
The Exhibition Awards provided both Langelle and Dilenno to have solo exhibits at the CEPA Gallery in 2018.