Chile: Mapuche “terrorism” blamed in deadly forest fires

Following a wave of forest fires in the southern Araucania and Bio-Bio regions that left seven fire-fighters dead this week, Chile’s government suggested indigenous Mapuche activists may have been responsible. Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter speculated that the Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM), a Mapuche group struggling to recover land from timber companies in the affected regions, set the blazes. “Behind this premeditated and criminal conduct there is activity of a terrorist nature,” he said. The Mapuche Student’s Federation accused Hinzpeter of conducting a “media trial” without any evidence and of trying to “delegitimize” the indigenous movement. President Sebastian Piñera has invoked a Pinochet-era “anti-terrorism” law to pursue those responsible for the fires. (Clarin, Argentina, Jan. 7; BBC News, VOA, Jan. 6)

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