Chile's President Gabriel Boric Font said during his first visit as head of state to La Araucanía that the Mapuche groups carrying out terrorist attacks in the area were “cowards,” and likened their actions to those of the Nazis in the 1930s.
The Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM), the most radical of the groups demanding the restitution of their alleged ancestral territories rejected Boric's presence in the area on Thursday.
We began the tour to La Araucanía to strengthen inter-ministerial work based on the priorities of our government in the region. With the focus on people and their security, wrote Boric on Twitter from Temuco, 680 kilometers south of Santiago. Boric's trip was confirmed late Wednesday for security reasons. That same day, a series of arson attacks against cabins, a school, and a church were recorded, in addition to roadblocks in rural areas.
”Today they burned a newly inaugurated school, a church, there were roadblocks that generated traffic cuts. I want to say to the people behind these attacks that if they think that by depriving the children of rural Araucanía of education or (...) depriving them of access to water (...) they are going to intimidate me or this government, they are very mistaken. They are cowards. And we are going to pursue them with the full weight of the law, Boric said.
You know what the burning of the school and the church we saw today reminds me of? It reminds me of when in the 1930s the Nazis burned synagogues, it reminds me of when in September 1973 the dictatorship burned books in San Borja square, he added.
Asked if these qualified as terrorism, Boris replied that I do not want to enter into a semantic polemic regarding this, I think it does us a lot of harm. I believe that in the region there have been acts of a terrorist nature.
The CAM claimed responsibility for the arson attacks and issued a communiqué rejecting the president's first trip to the area: Boric out of the Wallmapu (Mapuche nation, in native language), it warned.
The organization argued that Boric's trip served the interests of the oligarchy, the power of the economic groups that directly confront the Mapuche cause, every time that under his government the structures of domination that we have historically fought against have been intensified.
The attacks occurred after the renewal of a state of emergency which has been in effect for just over five months in La Araucanía and the neighboring Biobío region, which allows the President to summon the Armed Forces if necessary.
Boric is a staunch detractor of the state of emergency and before assuming power in March had warned that he would not use it, but the increase in violence twisted his arm. He even reinstated the militarization of the area first decreed by former conservative President Sebastián Piñera and which the new leftwing leader had lifted upon taking office.
The vast majority of those who live in La Araucanía and the immense and overwhelming majority of the Mapuche people want peace and we are going to dialogue with them,” said Boric, whose approval rating stands at 25%, according to a recent poll.