(Bloomberg) -- Chile arrested 11 members of an indigenous group accused of numerous arson attacks against businesses and houses in the center-south of the country — a boost for a government that has been accused of being soft on crime.
Among the members of “Resistencia Mapuche Lafkenche” were a retired police officer and another member in active duty.
Interior Minister Carolina Toha praised the security forces for the arrests and stressed the government’s support for their work, according to a social media post. “We’ll continue working in this line,” she said.
The conflict stems from the violent takeover of Mapuche lands in the late 19th century, when the government transferred their farms to Chilean and European settlers. Since the 1990s, several Mapuche groups have resorted to violence to regain those lands. The current government’s sympathy with their cause though has been eroded by the refusal of some groups to negotiate and continuous attacks on the local forestry industry.
President Gabriel Boric had vowed to improve conditions and speed up land transfers to Mapuches as part of his electoral campaign. However, shortly after taking office the then Interior Minister was received with gunshots in her first visit to the area. The intensity of the attacks increased and forced Boric to extend a state of emergency in the region, allowing for the army to intervene.
Read more: Oct. 10: Setback in Quest for Indigenous Rights Roils Chile (2)
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