Chile extends the state of emergency in the Mapuche area amid the wave of violence

After an intense debate, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate approved on Tuesday a decree sent by the government of Sebastián Piñera that allows the extension of the state of emergency in the southern part of the country.

The measure allows theFforces tosigned continue for another 15 days in charge of security tasks in the Biobío and La Araucanía regions, some 600 kilometers south of Santiago, where violent incidents have been recorded in the framework of the Mapuche conflict.

Piñera decided to declare a state of emergency for the first time on October 12 “due to a serious disturbance to public order,” which lasted 30 days. But to extend it, the president needed the approval of Parliament.

Thus, with the favorable votes of the opposition, the more than 2,000 army troops – supported by Mowag tanks, Cougar helicopters, airplanes and ships for maritime operations – will continue their work in the area.

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Of the almost 145,000 participants who voted in a non-binding citizen consultation carried out electronically between Friday 5 and Sunday 7 November in the region of La Araucanía, the 81.56% said they were in favor of maintaining measure.

Antagonistic opinions

Part of the roots of the centuries-old Mapuche conflict have to do with the loss of land of this indigenous people, the lack of recognition by the Chilean State and the discrimination suffering.

In recent decades, several Chilean governments have tried to address the issue, but various historians and analysts agree that efforts to find solutions have not been enough.

This time, the decision to declare a state of emergency by the Piñera government arouses strongly conflicting opinions in the Chilean political sphere.

During the debates in Parliament, those who did not support the extension of the state of emergency argued that this “Discard the dialog option”, which is “useless” and which only generates “more resentment and violence.” Given this, some called them “accomplices of violence.”

Mapuches protesting

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Mapuches protest after clashes between the military and members of their community.

In the Upper House, the Minister of the Interior, Rodrigo Delgado, acknowledged that the presence of the military in the south “does not solve the underlying problems” and stressed that the government is committed to both the state of emergency and dialogue.

According to a partial count presented to Parliament by the Piñera administration, during the period in which the armed forces have been in charge of security in the area, arson attacks, usurpations and land seizures, among others, have been reduced.

However, the violent incidents have not stopped.

The most serious was registered on November 3, when a confrontation ended with the death of a 23-year-old Mapuche community member. The circumstances are being investigated.

There was also sabotage of a railway line, after which a freight train was derailed and burned; arson attacks on houses and machinery.

Different Mapuche groups have claimed responsibility for these attacks through pamphlets and banners found at the sites of the attacks.

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