2021-10-12 23:36:53 Chile declares state of emergency over Mapuche conflict | Indigenous Rights News

Chile declares state of emergency over Mapuche conflict | Indigenous Rights News

President Sebastian Pinera has announced the deployment of troops to two southern regions affected by recent violence.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency and sent troops to two southern regions where clashes between Mapuche Indigenous people and security forces have erupted.

The Mapuche are calling for the restoration of their ancestral lands as well as their right to self-determination.

In a speech on Tuesday, Pinera said, “We have decided to declare a state of exception” in four provinces in the southern regions of Biobio and Araucania, as well as the deployment of troops to help control “the serious disturbance of public order” there.

According to the 71-year-old leader, the four provinces in question have seen “repeated acts of violence linked to drug trafficking, terrorism, and organized crime committed by armed groups,” with innocent civilians and police officers killed in the violence.

The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group. They make up about 1.7 million of the country’s 19 million people and live primarily in the south.

Their leaders are demanding that they be given back land that is currently owned by farms and logging companies.

In the last decade, armed groups have carried out attacks on trucks and private property due to a lack of a solution to their demands.

On Sunday, one person was killed and 17 were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters marching for Mapuche autonomy in Santiago, Chile’s capital. The celebration commemorated Dia de La Raza, formerly known as Columbus Day.

According to Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman, who reported from Santiago, armed Mapuche groups “have become more and more bold” in recent months, “carrying out acts of arson, sabotage, [and] taking over land.”

“The president has been under tremendous pressure for months now from conservatives within his own party, as well as other groups including truck drivers, to declare a state of siege in the Araucania,” Newman said.

“Many would argue that the Chilean state has actually lost control of much of that region,” she added, referring to the conflict in the Araucania region.

Initially, the state of exception is due to the last two weeks in the provinces of Biobio and Arauco in the Biobio region, and Malleco and Cautin in Araucania.

“Today, we are living in a very complex situation in which the police are being overwhelmed by groups armed with heavy calibre weapons,” Luciano Rivas, the ruling party’s governor of Araucania, told CNN Chile, in support of the troop deployment. According to Rivas, the area is experiencing a “very deep security crisis.”

However, political analyst Lucia Dammert slammed Pinera’s decision, telling AFP that the deployment of troops risks worsening the conflict and leading to “an escalation of violence.”

“The government has been unable to generate an effective and fair policy to solve the problems that exist in Araucania,” said Dammert, a University of Santiago professor.

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Chile declares state of emergency over Mapuche conflict | Indigenous Rights News