Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Chile Resorts to Anti-Terrorism Law in Mapuche Attacks

The radical indigenous movement operating in the south of Chile has stepped up its attacks, burning 29 trucks in a single assault and launching other attacks that have left dozens of trucks and logging machinery destroyed. Mapuche activists have long been targeting logging companies in a violent campaign to win back ancestral lands, a conflict that's only growing worse. Since 2010, more than 250 trucks have been burned, but the toll has risen sharply since last year. Some churches and government equipment have been targeted, too. Chile's government says it will combat the violence with its counter-terrorism laws, which limit certain civil rights. The attacks certainly aren't of the severity of global terror organizations such as ISIS. In another context, these would be just criminal acts, but the political overtones make them fall under the umbrella of organized terror. Years of conflict, ineffective policing and little progress on the central issue of land holdings have combined to create one of Chile's biggest security problems, and one with no quick solution. The latest wave of attacks comes amid the trial of 11 Mapuches accused in the killing of an elderly couple whose home was set ablaze in 2013. Truckers, meanwhile, have threatened to strike unless the government can provide better protection.