Chile – Two dead in clashes between Mapuche aborigines and police

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Clashes between Mapuche aborigines and Chilean police after an arrest left two dead and three injured on Wednesday in southern Chile.

Two Mapuche aborigines, the main indigenous people of Chile, were killed and five others wounded in clashes with police and army in the southern province of Arauco, a militarized region under state control. emergency following a wave of violence.

“I can confirm so far two deaths and three injured people who were taken to different hospitals,” Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado said from the capital. The deceased, 23 and 44, died of gunshot wounds, according to the government, which also reported the arrest of three people.

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It all started when, earlier today, police and soldiers arrested two aborigines in a vehicle identified as stolen, on a road in the Biobio region. The arrest provoked the indignation of another group of aborigines who demonstrated not far against the militarization of this area. They attempted to free the two men, which led to a confrontation in which shots were fired.

Historical conflict

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According to the minister, the deaths occurred during two attacks carried out by hooded men who used “large caliber weapons” against the police. The police fired “with live ammunition to deter these people,” he said.

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The operations of this type are part of the traffic controls within the framework of the state of emergency ordered by the government of President Sebastian Piñera since October 12 in four provinces of Biobío and in the neighboring region of La Araucania.

The two regions are engaged in a historic conflict between the Mapuche people and the State, to which the indigenous people claim lands which they consider as their by ancestral right and which have been ceded to private owners, mainly logging companies and landowners. land. The lack of a solution to this conflict has escalated violence over the past decade, punctuated by arson attacks on private land and trucks.

The Mapuche, ie 1.7 million people out of 19 million Chileans, mainly present in the South, have long demanded the restitution of their lands in the hands of landowners or foresters. At the beginning of October, clashes broke out in Santiago between demonstrators and the police during a “March for Mapuche resistance and peoples’ autonomy”, leaving one dead and 17 wounded.

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