Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mapuche Conflict not Likely to Ease Under Bachelet

Former president Michelle Bachelet is facing a run-off with conservative Evelyn Matthei Dec. 15 to decide Chile's next president. The Socialist Bachelet is expected to cruise to victory. But don't expect a change in leadership to be welcomed by the country's Mapuche activists. At a campaign rally, protesters disrupted Bachelet and made it clear they hold her responsible for the deaths of several Mapuches during her 2006-10 administration. Meanwhile, the native group continues to clash with police, landowners and timber companies. On Nov. 17, election day, a group in the heart of Mapuche territory ambushed several police officers, although no one was hurt. In another part of the region, the trial of a Mapuche man charged in the killings of an elderly couple when their home was set on fire is continuing. A conviction could set off more confrontations. Mapuche activists have been seeking moral and other support from outside Chile, and this month the two brothers of a Mapuche found slain on a field last August sought political asylum in Bolivia. They fled Chile after a group of masked men threatened to kill them. One more killing, and the crisis could worsen. It figures to be one of Bachelet's biggest security challenges.

Posted by Juan Carlos Arancibia at 10:10 PM

Source: Chile's Defence & Military

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