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Terrorism

Chile's Boric prepares to hand over south to rebel groups

Boric announced that he planned on withdrawing nearly 2,000 military personnel as soon as he takes office on March 11

Mapuche violence has grown in southern Chile in recent months
Mapuche violence has grown in southern Chile in recent months | Shutterstock

January 26, 2022 12:00pm

Updated: January 27, 2022 8:51am

The government of Sebastian Piñera in October declared a temporary state of emergency in four southern Chilean provinces where radical indigenous terrorist groups have long used violence to push their demands for autonomy from the Chilean state.

However, as the nation prepares for a leader, tensions are growing between Piñera’s outgoing government and left-wing President-elect Gabriel Boric, who has vocally opposed military involvement in the tormented south.

On Sunday, the incoming Interior Minister Izkia Siches told local reporters that the state of emergency “has not achieved the objective of reducing violence” and that “there are non-Mapuche civilians who seem to benefit from the conflict.”

Later that evening, Boric supported Siches’ claims and announced that he planned on withdrawing nearly 2,000 military personnel as soon as he takes office on March 11. Instead, he promised to implement new platforms for dialogue between the Mapuche and the state.

“A state of exception cannot be normalized,” Boric told CNN Chile.

Violence has increased in Chile’s Araucania region in recent months and most incidents have been linked back to Mapuche militants who are demanding recognition of their community’s ancestral lands. Presently, arson attacks on machinery and land occur almost daily and the murder of civilians in common. 

According to Piñera, however, his government’s policies have helped reduce violence by up to 40 percent. “It is important to be well informed,” Piñera said in reaction to Siches comments.  

Some have wondered if abandonment of the south be prudent at a time when the Mapuche really feel they are at war with the state and continue to demonstrate a willingness to rely on civilian terror in order to achieve their ends?

Shortly after the former student leader’s election, a radical terrorist group in Southern Chile released a blistering article rejecting his election and calling for increased political violence as means of struggle in the already turbulent Araucania region.

In the article, leadership from the Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM) outlined the Mapuche guerrilla movement’s position before Boric’s new government – which it defines as “that new hippy, progressive and cool left.”

According to the terrorist group, Boric’s political aspirations were “born in the framework of the national and international inter-bourgeois relationship” and do not fit within the framework of Mapuche independence since “the Mapuche people have had their own political-military order since before the formation of the Chilean state.”

The article continued to explain that because the power structure in Chile has not changed, the CAM will continue to use force to combat “expressions of capitalism in the Wallmapu (Mapuche territory).

“We call on our rebellious Mapuche people to continue resisting and to reclaim political violence as a legitimate instrument of our struggle, against whoever is governing and whoever upholds the pattern of capitalist accumulation and its colonial scaffolding,” the article continued.