SANTIAGO ( Associated Press) — President Gabriel Boric began his maiden visit on Thursday to La Araucanía, a region in southern Chile facing a wave of arson attacks claimed by Mapuche indigenous groups, the restoration of ancestral territories by force. are demanding.
The president’s agenda was kept strictly confidential to avoid attacks around the places he would visit, in the region of La Araucanía, 600 kilometers south of the Chilean capital. With heavy security, Boric arrived early in the regional capital Temuco where he met with Governor Luciano Rivas.
In a statement released a day earlier on social networks, the Arauco Malleco Coordinator, an armed organization made up of Mapuche groups, called for a boycott of the trip and criticized the fact that the president visits the region “exclusively and extremely by the military.” Protected” force, reflecting their position in favor of the militarization of the Walamapu (ancestral land).
Hours before reaching Temuco, unidentified men burned down a rural school and a chapel and cut down trees that they cut down at some points along the main regional highway.
In other arson attacks they destroyed a house, cabins, a truck, warehouses and a sawmill. The strikes coincide with the renewal of a state of emergency that has been in force in La Araucanía and the neighboring Biobio region for just over five months, which gives the president the authority to use armed forces to control main routes.
After his meeting with Boric, Governor Rivas confirmed that the latest attacks were “of a terroristic nature” and said there was “no excuse” to resolve the security crisis and move forward in repairing the victims.
Violence in the southern macrozone has been going on for more than two decades, with arson attacks on machinery and properties of forestry companies located on land taken from Mapuche in the 19th century. Most of the attacks are claimed by small groups of armed indigenous people, although most Mapuche pursue a single objective by peaceful means. Violent action is also taken by wood thieves and drug gangs.
Boric was a staunch opponent of the state of emergency and had warned before taking power last March that he would not use it, but an escalation in violence forced him to change his mind in May and to date he has renewed it 11 times. has done.
However, this limited the military to patrol routes, despite the fact that lawmakers, mayors and local unions called for it to increase preventive surveillance in semi-urban areas, without success.
Boric seeks to establish a dialogue with nonviolent communities and advances a public policy that includes infrastructure and resources for regional development and land restoration. Araucanía is one of the poorest Chilean regions of the country.
Violence in the South, growing insecurity in urban areas and an annual inflation growth of 12.8% – in a country that had lived with an annual inflation of 3% for two decades – translated this week into a new drop in Borik’s approval, which is 25. stood at. ,