Sunday, October 17, 2021

Chile Sends in the Troops to Control Indigenous Revolt

President Sebastian PiƱera used special powers to deploy the military into Chile's most troubled region. The so-called southern macrozone has been plagued by armed attacks on ranches, forestry operations, truckers and others, with acts occurring almost daily. In the past couple of years, armed groups of Mapuche fighters have elevated a yearslong campaign to regain lost ancestral lands, a conflict that has claimed lives of Mapuches, police and citizens. Under the decree, an Army general and a Navy rear admiral will command forces, which will patrol and provide support. The order runs only 15 days, after which the president needs reauthorization. The move is controversial, with opponents saying the militarization of the zone will only feed a cycle of violence. For others, it's a necessary step to bring some order to the area. Authorities say organized crime and drug gangs are mixed in with Mapuche fighters. Why did it take so long to move the military into the area? For one, the armed forces are reluctant to take on policing roles, and had just ended months of deployment in Chilean cities enforcing a Covid-19 curfew.