Mapuche conflict groups have “military capacity,” says Chilean minister

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Santiago de Chile, Jul 31 (EFE) .- Chile’s Interior Minister, Víctor Pérez, traveled this Friday to the southern region of La Araucanía due to the latest violent incidents that occurred in the area in March of the so-called Mapuche conflict and said that these are groups “with military capabilities”.

“We are facing groups with military capacity, groups with financing, with operational and logistical capacity, who are determined that there is no peace,” said Pérez.

The minister said that the “Mapuche conflict” is a political issue “that must be resolved”, but pointed out that “violence takes advantage of conflicts not to resolve them.”

Pérez said that the La Araucanía region will be one of his main concerns as minister.

“I believe that all citizens, all men and women in this region, have the right to live in peace and tranquility,” he said.

However, his visit to the region on this day led to several protests on the streets of Mapuche communities.

For decades, the so-called “Mapuche conflict” has existed in La Araucanía and other areas of southern Chile, which confronts indigenous communities with agricultural and forestry companies that exploit lands considered ancestral.

Among the main Mapuche demands are the possibility of greater political representation in Parliament and the creation of an Indigenous Ministry, as well as the constitutional recognition of indigenous peoples.

In the last days, a series of incidents and violent attacks have intensified the “Mapuche conflict”, with fires and attacks with a firearm allegedly perpetrated by activists from this original town, as well as the occupation of some official buildings.

After the machi (Mapuche healer) Celestino Córdova completed 85 days last Monday on a hunger strike, indigenous organizations occupied six municipal offices in La Araucanía.

It was the beginning of a week full of incidents in that region, territory historically disputed by the Mapuche communities and the Chilean State.

The objective of the taking of the municipalities was to demand the release of eight Mapuche prisoners on hunger strike, including Córdova, convicted of the murder of a couple of older adults in 2013 and whose case has been the most mediatic among Mapuches deprived of liberty.

The machi has been hospitalized at the Intercultural Hospital of Nueva Imperial since July 15, given his delicate state of health.

In addition, there have been attacks on pulp companies, a freight train and a rural farm, among other incidents.

(c) EFE Agency

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