President Sebastian Pinera said troops were being sent to two southern areas affected by the recent violence.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has declared a state of emergency and deployed troops in two southern regions where clashes have broken out between Mapuche tribesmen and security forces.
Mapuche is demanding the restoration and self-determination of their ancestral lands.
“We have decided to call Bubio and the four southern provinces of Araucania an exceptional state for the deployment of troops to help control the deadly civil unrest there,” Pinera said in a speech on Tuesday.
The 711-year-old leader said the four provinces in question had “repeatedly witnessed incidents of violence with drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime by armed groups” and that innocent civilians and police officers had been killed in the violence.
Mapuche is the largest indigenous group in Chile. Their number is about 1 in the 1-million population of the country. million million and they basically live in the south.
Their leaders are demanding that the land currently owned by farms and logging companies be restored to them.
The lack of resolution of their demands has prompted armed groups to carry out attacks on trucks and private property over the past 10 years.
One person was killed and 117 others were injured in clashes between security forces and protesters for autonomy in Mapuche in the capital, Santiago, on Sunday. The ceremony was to mark the Dia de la King, which was previously known Columbus Day.
Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports from Santiago that armed Mapuche groups have “become more courageous” in the past few months, “arson, sabotage, [and] To occupy land. “
“The president has been under intense pressure for months now to call for a blockade of Araucania from other groups, including his own party, the Conservatives, and truck drivers, but he has so far been reluctant to do so,” Newman said.
Conflict is intensifying in the Araucania region, he added, “and many will say that the Chilean state has actually lost a lot of control in that region.”
Biobio in the Biobio region and Arauco province, and Maleko and Coutin in Arauccania, have been the exception in the last two weeks.
“Today we are living in a very complex situation where the police are overwhelmed by heavily armed groups,” Luciano Rivas, governor of Aurkania, the ruling party in support of the military deployment, told CNN Chile. Rivas said there was a “very deep security crisis” in the area.
But political analyst Lucia Damart criticized AFP’s decision, telling AFP that the troop deployment could escalate the conflict and lead to an “escalation of violence”.
“The government is unable to formulate effective and fair policies to address the existing problems in Araucania,” said Professor Damart of the University of Santiago.