Mapuche violence is reaching unprecedented levels after the Arauco-Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM) claimed responsibility Tuesday for an arson attack against a forestry site in the commune of Lumaco, in the Araucanía region, 700 kilometers south of Santiago.
Up to August 9 this year, in the Auracanía area, 54 attacks by hooded individuals linked to the most radicalized Mapuche groups have been reported.
In 2021, 55 attacks were identified and in 2020, 28 of these events were recorded as the conflict is spiraling. The assailants, labeled as terrorists by the Judiciary, burn property and machinery, kill and injure residents, and seize portions of land.
The last sabotage action destroyed a skidder-type vehicle in the Pullahuen Alto sector, an area where the company Covilli has registered over 10 attacks since 2014.
A strong police contingent is directed to repress communities in the process of territorial recovery in the area, said the CAM through a statement, specifically one of its Organs of Territorial Resistance (ORT) called Anganamun.
So far, authorities are still trying to gain access to the site, located in the thick forest of the Nahuelbuta mountain range.
The CAM, whose first violent action was registered in 1997, is the most relevant organization of the Mapuche autonomist movement of the last 20 years, developing, unlike other radical expressions, a political line that aims at the national liberation of the Mapuche people, a position that clashes with the proposal of plurinationality contained in the draft of the new Constitution to be put up for voting next month.
There will be no truce with the forestry companies, radical Mapuche groups were quoted as saying. The so-called Mapuche conflict has been going on for decades, as indigenous communities oppose agricultural and forestry companies exploiting lands considered ancestral. The Mapuche people claim the lands were forcibly occupied by the Chilean State at the end of the 19th century in a process officially known as the Pacification of Araucania and now belonged mostly to powerful forestry companies.
Arson attacks on machinery and farms are frequent and the conflict has cost the lives of a large number of Mapuche community members at the hands of State agents, in addition to the death of police officers and hunger strikes by indigenous prisoners.
What is happening in Chile might end up happening in Argentina, especially in provinces the Mapuche regard as their ancestral territories: Chubut, Neuquén, Río Negro, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego.
Former Araucanía Prosecutor Francisco Ljubetic also underlined that the hooded Mapuches were using Argentine-built guns. He also argued that the Mapuche attacks were anything but random.
Many violent events in Argentine Patagonia have resulted in no arrests, which is encouraging for the Mapuche groups.
Ljubetic also pointed out these groups were helped financially from European countries.