RSF calls Mapuche journalist's detention in Chile political persecution

Chilean police detained a journalist for over three hours on Saturday, Nov. 24, on an old warrant, reported the website Diario Voz Populi. Pedro Cayuqueo, a Mapuche indigenous journalist, was detained by police in the community of Teodoro Schmidt because of a land invasion lawsuit from 1999, added the website.

The journalist tweeted to his followers that he was arrested because the court failed to send notice to the Civil Registry that he had complied with the charge. Cayuqueo, who was driving to the coast with his daughter when he was arrested, detailed the experience on Twitter has it happened.

The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French) called the journalist's detention a judicial scandal and police harassment, according to its report " Pedro Cayuqueo against arbitrariness: denial of justice in the name of censorship."

RSF summarized the journalist's several detentions since 2003, when he was sentenced to 61 days in prison and fined for "land grabbing" and "concealing lumber theft." The case was brought to court in 1999 in response to a protest occupation of Mapuche lands that were expropriated and given to the agro-business Forestal Mininco. The journalist paid his fine in 2004, the same year copies of the newspaper Azkintuwe were confiscated, a publication he founded in response to the land occupation, added RSF.

In 2005, when he was also the director of the Mapuche Times, he was sentenced again to 41 days in prison for not paying the fine from the first trial. "The detention of Pedro Cayuqueo is a sign of the discrimination community and online journalists--especially Mapuche--face as they desperately try to carve a place in the extremely concentrated media landscape," said RSF.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.