Chile: alleged anarchists arrested in bombing

On Sept. 18 Chilean authorities arrested three supposed anarchists, Juan Alexis Flores Riquelme, Nataly Casanova Muñoz and Guillermo Durán Méndez, on charges of participation in the Sept. 8 bombing at a shopping center in Santiago's Escuela Militar subway station; 14 people were injured in the lunchtime blast. Public defender Eduardo Camus, who is representing the defendants, said they denied involvement. The arrests took place during an operation by more than 200 agents of the carabineros militarized police which included searches in six homes in the working-class Santiago-area communes of La Granja, San Bernardo and La Pintana. So far there have been some 200 bombings and attempted bombings in Chile in the past 10 years; most caused no injuries.

Also on Sept. 18, a statement appeared on an anarchist website claiming responsibility for the attack by part of an international network known as the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" ("Conspiración de las Células del Fuego," or CCF, in Spanish). The statement—posted at a URL which now appears to be inaccessible—claimed that the group called an emergency number "more than 10 minutes before the blast, waiting for police to react by evacuating, but they ignored it, detonating the device and causing several injuries, which we lament. Our target was not consumers or workers, but the structures, properties and enforcers of power."

The "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" seems to be mostly based in Greece, and the US State Department has reportedly labeled the Greek section a terrorist group, although the group doesn't appear on the State Department's official terrorist list. Anarchists and other leftists in Chile have denounced the Sept. 8 attack, and University of Chile history professor Sergio Grez, who writes about anarchism, questioned whether anarchists were involved. "To conflate anarchism and terrorism is not just a profound historical mistake but a politically motivated one as well," he told the Associated Press wire service. (Terra Chile, Sept. 18, from EFE; Radio Universidad de Chile, Sept. 18; Washington Post, Sept. 18, from AP)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, September 21.