Pinera Calls in Army to Counter Arson Attacks in Southern Chile
(Bloomberg) -- Chile will deploy its armed forces in the south of the country to counter an increase in arson attacks against forestry and transport infrastructure, and amid a string of shootouts between police and pro-indigenous rights groups.
President Sebastian Pinera announced a state of emergency in four provinces: Biobio, Arauco, Malleco and Cautin, which have been at the center of the attacks. The measure allows the deployment of armed forces in the area for 15 days to aid local police. The measure can then be extended.
Between 2016 and the first half of 2021 there were about 550 attacks in the region, according to a tally of legal cases presented by La Tercera. Many were claimed by groups backing the local Mapuche indigenous population.
The Mapuches are demanding a return of their ancestral lands taken in a series of military operations in the late 19th century, which some groups qualify as genocide.
As the Mapuches step up their campaign for autonomy and land, groups of truckers have been blocking highways in recent days demanding safer working conditions in the region.
“These acts of violence compromise public order, the rule of law and affect a peaceful coexistence,” Pinera said in a televised event. “The inhabitants of those areas live in constant fear and a profound sense of defenselessness.”
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