Chile declares a ‘state of exception’ concerning Mapuche tensions
Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi
Modern Tokyo Times
The President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera, is alarmed by events in the two southern regions of Araucania and Biobio. This concerns the indigenous Mapuche people and ongoing clashes with the security forces.
Pinera said, “We have decided to call a state of exception.”
The Mapuche seek self-determination and for ancestral lands to be returned to the indigenous.
Clashes on Sunday witnessed the death of one person. Hence, after years of similar demands, tensions are once more increasing in this part of Chile. Therefore, it remains to be seen if the government will take the demands of the Mapuche seriously.
The sending of the armed forces to the region could escalate the situation even further. However, like in all areas of dispute – irrespective of sympathy to the embattled indigenous group – some people in Mapuche will welcome stronger action by Pinera.
The Governor of Araucania, Luciano Rivas, said, “Today we are living in a very complex situation where the police are overwhelmed by groups with heavy caliber weapons.”
The Buenos Aires Times, reports, “The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group but have suffered centuries of discrimination and marginalization.”
It is hoped that the government of Pinera will reach out to the Mapuche and take their grievances seriously. Henceforth, the sending of the armed forces will hopefully be limited in scope – and that a political olive branch will be part of his policy.
If not, the situation could spiral out of control.
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