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Montevideo, October 22nd 2016 - 19:43 UTC

Piñera after political consensus to declare state of emergency in Mapuche territory

Monday, January 7th 2013 - 13:03 UTC
Full article 26 comments
The Chilean president described the Mapuche attacks as “terrorist violence” The Chilean president described the Mapuche attacks as “terrorist violence”

President Sebastián Piñera is considering declaring the state of emergency in the Araucanía region, in southern Chile, where six arson attacks which cost the lives of two people took place since Friday, Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick said.

The Chilean president is also holding a round of political talks with all parties with congressional representation to form a united front against what he described as “terrorist violence”.

One of the first measures was to put Carlos Carrasco, a top official within the Carabineros police, in charge of coordinating security in the region, plus sending 400 well armed riot police to ensure law and order.

Houses, trucks and agricultural machinery were torched down in six separate attacks since Friday, in a conflict that has affected the regions of Biobío, La Araucanía and Los Ríos.

A 75-year-old businessman and his 69-year-old wife were burned alive inside their home, which was attacked by around 20 people on Friday. Their family’s vast landholdings had long been targeted by Mapuche Indians who claim ancestral rights over the land.

Demands for land and autonomy by the Mapuche date back centuries. They resisted Spanish and Chilean domination for more than 300 years before they were forced south to Araucania in 1881. Many of the 700,000 Mapuche who survive among Chile’s 17 million people still live in Araucania.

A small fraction have been rebelling for decades, destroying forestry equipment and torching trees. Governments on the left and right have sent in police while offering programs that fall far short of their demands.

“The rise in demonstrations by our Mapuche communities are due to the lack of justice and the rejection of any type of productive dialogue on the restitution of our territory,” Mapuche leader Juana Calfunao wrote in Mapuexpress, an online site that reports on the issues of the Mapuche.

Chadwick said “the government believes the timeliest, useful and necessary decision is the implementation of the Anti-terrorism law” though he did not rule out the use of “any other legal instrument provided for by the Constitution and the law”.

Several ruling party lawmakers and businessmen demanded that the government declare the state of emergency.

Chadwick said Carrasco will be in charge of the “actions against terrorist violence” in the three regions affected by the conflict and that Piñera will meet Monday with the leaders of the opposition to discuss the handling of the crisis.

The president will also meet Monday with the head of the National Intelligence Agency (ANI) and the intelligence leaders within the armed forces.

The goal, Chadwick said, is to seek a “solid unity” against violence. Chadwick’s statement followed a meeting between Piñera and Ministers Cristián Larroulet and Joaquín Lavín.

Under Chilean law, a state of emergency can be declared in instances of internal war or serious local strife. It allows the president to ban meetings and demonstrations and restricts movement of citizens for 15 days.

Piñera inherited the conflict in Araucania from successive administrations that, like his, have also been unable to successfully address land claims that have erupted in clashes with police.

Human rights and Mapuche groups criticize the use of the anti-terror law, calling it an abuse of power and say the government should instead focus on reaching out to the Mapuche.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • pgerman

    The accusations of alleged genocide against the Mapuche by the Argentine Governments looks a lot different now....don't you think so?

    “two elderly-people were burned alive inside their home, Which was Attacked by around 20 people.” Are the “malones” back?

    Thanks God the Argentina had two Presidents like Nicolas Avellaneda and JA Roca who solved this issue once and for all.

    Argentina lived in peace during the Following 150 years since them onwards.

    Let's sse if the current political generations (CFK) can keep the internal peace, order and law. I really have my doubts !!!!

    Jan 07th, 2013 - 02:06 pm 0
  • ChrisR


    So Chile's problem justifies the glorious war of the desert by AG and killing the indiginous people (who only had hand weapons) with an 'army' who had firearms?

    No wonder AG is fucked at the citizen level if you believe this.

    And CFK aka TMBOA is going to restrain herself if more riots happen?

    Goddess TMBO will get rid of anybody who stands in her path to total domination of AG.

    You are all DOOMED I tell you, DOOMED.

    Jan 07th, 2013 - 02:29 pm 0
  • pgerman

    @2 I's sorry but your comments are proof of your ignorance.

    When the Argentine Army definitively occupied the territory of the Patagonia (in this case was the Campaña de los Andes) and established the sovereignty of a country with law, and civilized, rules the Mapuches had already bought the very same fire-arms as the Argentine Army.

    The famous “rifle patria” that had the Argentine soldiers were also sold to the chilean native people by the same amrs brokers.

    Please, I kindly invite you to read about Argentine history before posting any comment.


    Jan 07th, 2013 - 02:39 pm 0
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