Chile: Mapuche activist found guilty of arson and murder

Development: On 20 February a court in the city of Temuco, the capital of Araucanía, found Celestino Córdova, a Mapuche activist, guilty of the murder of a retired couple in an arson attack on their home in January 2013, but did not, as the government had sought, define the incident as an act of terrorism.

Significance: There are long-simmering tensions in Chile’s southern regions of Araucanía and Bío-Bío, home to around 1.0m indigenous Mapuches, many of whom have long campaigned for the return of ancestral lands now occupied by farmers and timber companies. A radical faction of the Mapuches has attacked farms, while the police have also been accused of violent tactics such as shooting rubber bullets at Mapuche women and children. The court verdict, coming just weeks before the end of the current (conservative) administration, poses the question of how the incoming president Michelle Bachelet and  her leftist Nueva Mayoría coalition government will handle the issue.

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Source: LatinNews

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