Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police Step Up Efforts After Mapuche Attacks

The national police promised special forces, increased intelligence activities and "anti-guerilla" operations in a southern area where indigenous Mapuche groups have used violence to press their demands. The measures followed an August attack on a farm in which armed activists burned structures and assaulted a farmer. In the last 10 years, Mapuche activists have carried out more than 100 attacks on lumber operations, plus some 50 arsons and about 40 land takeovers. A prosecutor in the region says the movement has a diversified network of leadership, ready to step in with replacements if one is captured. It also has support from non-governmental agencies in Chile and abroad. Decades ago, Mapuches were stripped of most of their land and shuffled off to reservations. The movement seeks to reclaim those lands, much of which are now used for lumber harvesting.

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