Chile on edge over spate of farm attacks

2013-01-07 13:05
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. (File, AFP)

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Santiago - A string of arson attacks in a remote southern region of Chile where Mapuche Indian farmers are pitted against landowners and the forest industry has led to calls for the government to declare a state of emergency in the area.

In the latest attack, an elderly couple was burned alive in the remote southern region of Araucania on Friday while trying to defend their home. Their family's vast landholdings had long been targeted by Mapuche Indians who claim ancestral rights over the land.

President Sebastian Pinera flew to the scene shortly after the attack, doubled the number of police agents in the region to 400 and announced tough new security measures.

They include the application of Chile's tough anti-terror law, which dates back to the late General Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 dictatorship and allows for suspects to be held in isolation without charge, and for the use of secret witnesses and telephone taps that have been discredited by Chile's courts in previous cases of Mapuche violence.

But despite the government's tough stance, police reported six more arson attacks over the weekend, the burning of a lumber truck and an abandoned house by unidentified groups.

"For now, we think the anti-terrorist law is the most efficient," Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said after meeting with Pinera, police chiefs and Cabinet ministers on Sunday.

No claim of responsibility

"What we have here is a terrorist movement that is launching attacks in different places and in precise ways, and that's why we need police action and the collaboration of all citizens," Chadwick said. "We're not ruling out using any other legal tool provided by the constitution," a reference to the state of emergency.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for Friday's deadly attack and some Mapuches called it senseless and abhorrent, local business and land owners say they've had enough.

Right-wing politicians are demanding the government take strong action against the perpetrators and act to guarantee safety by declaring the state of emergency.

Under Chilean law, a state of emergency can be declared in instances of internal war or serious local strife. It allows the president to ban meetings and demonstrations and restricts movement of citizens for 15 days.

Pinera inherited the conflict in Araucania from successive administrations that, like his, have also been unable to successfully address land claims that have erupted in clashes with police.

Human rights and Mapuche groups criticise the use of the anti-terror law, calling it an abuse of power and say the government should instead focus on reaching out to the Mapuche.

Decades-old rebellion

Demands for land and autonomy date by the Mapuche date back centuries. They resisted Spanish and Chilean domination for more than 300 years before they were forced south to Araucania in 1881.

Many of the 700 000 Mapuche who survive among Chile's 17 million people still live in Araucania.

A small fraction have been rebelling for decades, destroying forestry equipment and torching trees. Governments on the left and right have sent in police while offering programmes that fall far short of their demands.

"The rise in demonstrations by our Mapuche communities are due to the lack of justice and the rejection of any type of productive dialogue on the restitution of our territory," Mapuche leader Juana Calfunao wrote in Mapuexpress, an online site that reports on the issues of the Mapuche.

- SAPA
Read more on:    sebastian pinera  |  chile
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Senior Test Analyst

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Switch Consultants (Pty) Ltd
R38 000 - R42 000 Per Month

Internal Auditor

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Communicate Midrand Finance
R400 000 - R600 000 Per Year

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.