The Argentine province of Rio Negro has requested federal aid to control violent attacks from alleged Mapuche communities against people and property over the weekend.
A group of hooded men calling themselves “Mapuches” Sunday evening first tied up the caretakers of provincial highway property, then they left intimidating notes with threats and, before escaping, they set a warehouse on fire.
In a separate event, the Office of Tourism at El Bolsón was set ablaze Saturday evening.
The federal government has for now not taken any action regarding aid requests. Security Minister Aníbal Fernández has instead called for dialogue between the parties.
The Rio Negro government described the attack as a terrorist act and was also reported to be planning to file a complaint before the local federal judge in addition to requesting the presence of federal forces to control a situation which -they say- has been escalating for months.
Rio Negro Governor Arabela Carreras would invoke article 213 bis, aggravated by article 41 of the National Penal Code, which indicates that “imprisonment or confinement of five to twenty years will be imposed on those who take part in an illicit association, whose purpose is, through the commission of crimes, to terrorize the population or to force a government or international organization to carry out an act or to refrain from doing so,” it was reported.
The way is always speaking, finding a way out that fairly satisfies everyone and not having to take measures of another characteristic, which we do not intend to take, Minister Fernández was quoted as saying.
The events were not too different from others carried out by radicalized groups who often act under a hood and at night. Previously, Governor Carreras had asked the national government for help in the face of permanent complaints from neighbours, especially from Villa Mascardi.
Former Security Minister and current chairwoman of the opposition PRO Party Patricia Bullrich said the national state is part of the violence problem and warned that the government needs to make up its mind as to on which side it stands: in favour of the terrorists or against them.
”It is time for the country to follow the policy that we started (...) and to decide to fight terrorism by groups calling themselves Mapuches who set fire and destroy everything, which put the population in a situation of fear, said Bullrich in a radio interview.
Bullrich mentioned a report prepared together with the governors of Chubut, Neuquén and Río Negro in which 112 attacks were recorded before the presidency of Mauricio Macri, and agreed with Governor Carreras that these attacks be classified as terrorism.
The Argentine State, the Argentine organizations, they are part of the problem. That is why the governor is alone (...) She is alone because the national state is on the side of the terrorist groups, Bullrich said.
We must ask for the immediate resignation of all government officials who are part of the problem, we must replace every one of them. There must be a decision that there is no coverage of these violent groups, she went on.
Saturday night a similar attack took place against the new tourist information centre at El Bolsón. A can of gasoline has been found in a nearby building, which would confirm it was in fact “foul play.”
It is striking that this attack occurs in troubled days for our city. For this reason, I ask the Justice to investigate, act responsibly and swiftly, and be able to clarify these facts that threaten the growth and development of a city whose economic engine is the tourist sector,” El Bolsón Mayor Bruno Pogliano said.