Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chile Deploys More Weapons Against Mapuches

As violence escalates in the conflict with the native Mapuches, Chile's police is adding 100 officers to the troubled region, and is redeploying a surveillance airplane to the area. The Beechcraft King Air B200G is normally used by the Carabineros national police in the north of Chile to battle drug trafficking. But now the plane -- equipped with thermal imaging cameras and other sensors -- is going to La Araucania. That part of Chile's south is where radical Mapuches have burned down homes, vehicles and buildings in their fight to reclaim ancestral lands now held by timber companies, ranchers and other landowners. The area had already been beefed up with police, and the fresh reinforcements arrive after incidents in which Carabineros have seemed overmatched. Three were hurt when they were fired upon as they escorted a family moving out of its property. (Some landowners have chosen to leave rather than endure further threats.) A frustrated government is demanding answers on why the police have not been able to get ahead of the attacks. The conflict dates back to 1861, with the Army's occupation of the tribal region, a recent article in the Miami Herald explains.

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