Saturday, October 31, 2020

Shooting Death of Police Officer Underscores Endless Indigenous Revolt

 A 24-year old police officer was slain in an ambush, the latest death in an extended conflict between extremists and carabineros in the south of Chile. A 23-year campaign by indigenous mapuche radicals to reclaim lost ancestral lands is seeing the most violent year so far. This year alone, five police officers have been killed in incidents attributed to mapuche gunmen. Earlier this year, the conflict impacted the whole nation when truckers went on strike for a week and blocked highways to pressure the government. Truckers complain the government is not doing enough to protect them from countless attacks. Mapuches' most common tactic is to burn trucks that belong to logging companies in the disputed territories, sometimes stopping trucks at gunpoint. The first attacks started in 1997, and have only worsened. Every president in that time has failed to bring the crisis under control, which remains one of Chile's biggest security problems. Government programs to buy back land for mapuches have done little to appease the movement's radical elements. Chileans this month voted to draft a new constitution, which may end up providing specific rights to indigenous peoples.