Police attack after fire in Araucanía
The Chilean carabineros [militarized national police] early Sunday morning raided the Cacique José Guiñón community, in the commune of Ercilla, province of Malleco (in the Araucanía region), after a fire in a rural parcel of land that is considered a Mapuche conflict zone.
“We are in the commune of Ercilla, 100 kilometers north of Temuco, where close to 100 members of the Carabineros de Chile proceeded to raid the Cacique José Guiñón community early this morning,” reported César Parra, the TeleSur correspondent in the commune.
The correspondent specified that the raid took place after “a reported attack in the Pidima zone” in which hooded men set fire “intentionally to two houses, one belonging to the employers, the other to the caretaker.”
“According to witnesses and the carabineros’ account, [the hooded men] had shouted slogans in favor of land claims by the Ercilla comune,” Parra stated.
Police sources specified that the fire was set by five hooded men who entered the area carrying rifles and handguns. Later the individuals intimidated those they came across in the area and set fire to the buildings.
The TeleSur correspondent stated that during the Carabineros’ incursion an 18-year-old Mapuche woman suffered “serious respiratory problems from the inhalation of tear gas.”
“This commune member is eight months pregnant” and is in the medical center of a neighboring commune.
There are also Cruz Roja vehicles at the scene and it is known that there are injured Mapuche commune members, he stated.
The incident occurred during an official period of mourning declared by the government after the deaths of seven firefighters last Thursday as they were combating a fire in that region and whose funerals were held this Sunday.
In the Araucanía region alone, the flames have consumed more than 4,000 hectares. The fire is under control.
The Chilean government, presided over by Sebastián Piñera, has pointed to a Mapuche organization as being possibly responsible for the fires, which have been burning for more than a week in the center of this southern nation.
Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter and Intendant Andrés Molina believe that the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM – the major national Mapuche organization) is behind the events.
“The government has not hesitated to turn itself into the greatest racists against the Mapuche people. Mr. Piñera and Mr. Hinzpeter have become desperate, since without any credible evidence that allows them to see those responsible (for the deadly fire in Carahue), they have filed a complaint against the Mapuche people calling for application of the Anti-Terrorist Law,” said Santos Millao, national president of the Mapuche organization Admapu.
“I think it is a declaration of war for our people,” he added in reference to the central government’s filing a complaint invoking the Anti-Terrorist law because of the fire on the Casa de Piedra property. He is also advisor to the Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena (Conadi) and council member of Purén (in Araucanía).
Meanwhile, Natividad Llanquilleo, former spokeswoman for Mapuche political prisoners, told the local media, “This is being used to justify what they have been attempting to justify for a long time, which is the application of the Anti-Terrorist Law and the militarization of several communities.”
She stated likewise that the Piñera administration “is finding an argument, as former administrations have done in a brutal manner, for applying the State Security Law.”