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50 arrested after violence in indigenous conflict zone in southern Chile

Araucania, ChileFifty detainees, fires and destruction in various municipal offices and other incidents were recorded during the early hours of Sunday, August 2 in localities in the La Araucania region, in southern Chile, an area of strong conflict between the state and the Mapuche ethnic group.

The incidents occurred when law enforcement officers vacated municipal headquarters, which have been occupied since the beginning of this week in support of leaders and members of Mapuche communities who are incarcerated and on hunger strike.The municipal offices in the towns of Ercilla, Curacautin, Traiguen, Collipulli and Victoria had been occupied in support of Mapuche prisoners, who want to access the benefit of house arrest in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Media reports indicated there were clashes between the police forces, members of indigenous communities and residents of the towns that oppose the occupation of the municipal offices.
The newly appointed interior minister, Victor Perez, has already travelled to La Araucania region this week where he called on mayors to request the eviction of law enforcement, but local authorities say they do not have the capacity to face these conflicts on their own.
La Araucania, where the population of Mapuche is concentrated, is one of the regions with the highest poverty rates in Chile. Members of the Mapuche ethnic group have long-standing disputes with companies in the area, mainly forestry, and the state in demand of restitution of ancestral territorial rights.

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