The Mapuche conflict in Chile deepens: an injured baby and new arson attacks

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The incidents occurred in the Araucania area. A 13-year-old Mapuche boy was shot while participating in the occupation of land in that southern region.

The violence derived from the ancestral Mapuche conflict continues to convulse Chilean Patagonia. This Sunday, a 13-year-old indigenous boy was seriously injured in the stomach while participating in the occupation of a piece of land in the Araucania region. Government spokesmen reported that the minor was operated on and was stable, in a new day of violence that shook the area this weekend.

On Friday, an arson attack culminated with five machines and two buses destroyed at the Los Sauces forestry company. On Saturday, unknown persons attacked a freight train in Victoria and burned two carriages. All evidence points to radical Mapuche groups.

The new wave of violence follows a particularly busy week with a truckers’ strike that paralyzed the country for seven days in protest of the continuous attacks that their formations are subjected to when they transit through southern Chile. The episode that triggered the protests occurred on August 9 when Monserrat, a 9-year-old girl and the daughter of a truck driver, she was seriously injured in a Mapuche attack on her family’s vehicle.

Government spokesmen in Santiago highlighted that the incidents continue to occur despite the fact that, as part of a negotiation that the Sebastián Piñera administration entered into, the Mapuche sector managed to relax the prison conditions of its leader, Celestino Córdova, sentenced to 18 years in prison in February 2014 for the fire that caused the death of the farmer couple Werner Luchsinger and Vivian Mackay on January 4, 2013.

“We are sorry for what happened. It is a serious injury, the young man underwent a successful operation and is not life-threatening, ”said the Undersecretary for Children, Carol Brown, when reporting on the bullet that the young Mapuche received at dawn. son of an indigenous leader from the Araucanía region (600 km south of Chile). The local authorities have not clarified if it was a pellet or a bullet and it was not known until last night who fired the shots.

The episode has as a context the so-called “Mapuche conflict” that confronts this indigenous community, the largest in Chile, with the State and agricultural and forestry companies that exploit lands considered ancestral in various southern areas. The indigenous community demands the return of their original territories that passed to the State after the Spanish conquest. Many of those lands were later given to large landownerss. In recent months, the tension between the government and the Mapuche has been reactivated with frequent occupations of properties, arson attacks on agricultural machinery and farms, racist marches and hunger strikes.

On Friday, radical groups seized five expensive agricultural machines and then burned two buses belonging to the Los Sauces forestry company, in southern Chile. In the place a pamphlet was found in the name of the group Nagche Territorial Resistance Body. On the occasion, several heavily armed hooded men intercepted the transports at kilometer 3 of Route 66, threatened the drivers and forced the workers to get out. Then they used accelerant and torches to start the fire, which completely consumed the machines.

The Governor of Malleco, Juan Carlos Beltrán, said that “as a Government we strongly condemn this type of situation. Today we see that once again we are damaging the employment source of many families ”.

For the so-called “Mapuche conflict” from 2014 to date 712 forestry companies have been burned, with 212 attacks in six years, to an average of three monthly attacks where an average of ten computers are burned. “That is the sad statistic. We have not been able to get the government to understand the issue. There is no control and that is regrettable. Democracy has led us to abuse it and ultimately all citizens are harmed, ”said René Muñoz Cox, manager of the Forest Contractors Association of the South zone.

On the Argentine side, over Neuquén and Río, there were also several episodes of land seizures between August and the current month, which replicated the trans-Andean Mapuche conflict with another intensity.

“A few weeks ago it was 9-year-old Montserrat. Today a 13-year-old Mapuche boy. Children and adolescents who are victims of violence that adults for years have not been able to stop. Only peace will reap justice “affirmed the Minister of Social Development of Chile, Karla Rubilar.

Entrepreneurs demand more firmness from the government and stronger criminal penalties. But the conflict worsens over time and seems a long way from an effective solution.

Source: AFP, EFE and Clarín

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