Fugitive indigenous activist Facundo Jones Huala detained in El Bolsón

The Mapuche leader hid from the Chilean justice for almost a year

Indigenous rights activist Facundo Jones Huala was detained in El Bolsón, Río Negro, after hiding from the Chilean justice for a year. 

A police team from Rio Negro found him in a house in El Bolsón, a town of 18,000 people, after several months of searching, in a raid carried out before dawn.

A court in Valdivia, Chile, sentenced Jones Huala in 2018 to nine years in prison for setting a fire at a farm in southern Chile’s Los Ríos region in 2013. In February 2022, the Chilean Supreme Court granted him parole, and he crossed the Andean cordillera and hid in Argentine Patagonia.

“We had information that he was around the area [El Bolsón], and the police found him at 4am after a tip-off that a neighbor was hearing noises where he was – he was in a hut near a house, searching for shelter. There was an Interpol blue alert on him,” said Rio Negro governor, Arabela Carreras, on TN. The province has made a request to elevate the alert to “red”, in order to facilitate his extradition to Chile.

Manuel Monsalve, the Interior Subsecretary from Chile, announced on Monday noon that they have initiated the extradition request for Jones Huala. 

Jones Huala, 36, has been involved in indigenous rights activism for most of his life. The authorities say he is the leader of the RAM (Mapuche Ancestral Resistance), which they say is an organization that opposes the existence of the Argentine and Chilean states. However, no members other than Jones Huala have been named and its appearances are often limited to leaflets at the sites of alleged attacks, prompting some Mapuche organizations to suggest that the group does not really exist. 

Disputes in Patagonia

In recent months, tensions over land rights have also intensified as communities protest the occupation of Lago Escondido by British business magnate Joe Lewis. Over a thousand activists marched into the area this weekend. “We’re marching for the opening of roads [leading to the Lake], and to denounce that there’s a British settlement there,” said Julio Urien, one of the organizers.


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