Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Violence Increasing in Mapuche Conflict
Police in the volatile Araucania region received gunfire in a series of attacks that have escalated in the past several days. In the most serious attack, two officers were hurt by shotgun pellets during a confrontation with masked assailants Jan. 10. Earlier, a police vehicle and another carrying journalists also were hit by gunfire. In late December, an officer was shot in the arm as he escorted a logging company truck. Meanwhile, Mapuche leaders denounced police after a member of Carabineros scuffled with a woman holding a baby and aimed his weapon at her. The incident, captured on video, gave protesters evidence of excessive force Mapuches have been complaining about. Arson attacks have occurred in recent months too, as the conflict over ancestral lands shows no sign of abating. But it has not disintegrated into all-out chaos. Talks between government and Mapuche leaders continue, and the violence remains largely contained to certain hot spots. Still, it's a security problem Chile's leaders have yet to get under control.