Thursday, August 13, 2009

Conflict with Indigenous Group Flares Up

Chile faces an increasingly difficult security problem with the indigenous Mapuche community, which has been clashing with landowners and police. In one of the most serious incidents of the rebellion, a Mapuche activist was shot and killed by police Aug. 12. The Carabineros national police say the were ambushed by armed Mapuches as they sought to evict them from a farm. The officer involved, who was hit by shotgun pellets, was held pending an investigation. Mapuches quickly retaliated by burning down an agricultural warehouse. Activists in the indigenous group have been attacking agricultural and forestry operations and taking over farms in the south of Chile, demanding the return of native lands. Security in the region is worsening. Truckers and journalists are traveling in convoys to avoid attacks. Earlier this month, Mapuches complained they had been attacked by a paramilitary group, raising the possibility of a widening conflict. Meanwhile, the government became alarmed after representatives linked to the Basque separatist group ETA visited Mapuche activists.

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