March 20, 2019

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Killing of Indigenous Man in Chile Spurs Criticism of Security Forces

Killing of Indigenous Man in Chile Spurs Criticism of Security Forces
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Days later, the regional governor, Luis Mayol, also resigned.

In addition to the prosecutor’s investigation, the National Institute for Human Rights has filed a criminal lawsuit, seeking murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice charges against the Carabineros, as the national police force is called. Over the past seven years, the institute has filed more than 30 complaints over abusive police actions against the Mapuche. In May, it filed a criminal complaint against the national police force after four boys in Ercilla were stripped and interrogated.

The death of Mr. Catrillanca spurred protests in several cities and rural areas, and on Nov. 18, hours after thousands of Mapuche attended his funeral, demonstrators banged pots and pans throughout Santiago and other cities, demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick and the dismantling of the Jungle Commando police unit.

Since then, at least 20 protests, roadblocks and arson attacks have taken place in the Araucanía and Bío Bío regions in southern Chile, where most Mapuche live. Protests have continued almost daily in several cities, including the capital.

Members of Congress, opposition leaders and rights groups are questioning the government strategy to address what is often referred to as the “Mapuche conflict.”

The Mapuche contend that over the past century they have lost a large portion of their ancestral territory, which straddles the border between Chile and Argentina, as the government pursued policies that divided indigenous communities, took control of lands for which the Mapuche did not have formal property titles, and encouraged the sale of such land to farmers, lumber and energy companies, and other private owners.

Over the past couple of decades, Mapuche communities have occupied part of those lands, while others have sought to negotiate land transfers with the government.

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