Today at 11am Chilean president Sebastián Piñera announced plans to address the challenges faced by the indigenous Mapuche. He was speaking after the social conference held in the capital Santiago which addressed development ideas for the region of Araucanía in the south of the country.
With help of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Social Development, the Plan Araucanía hopes to address various challenges that the indigenous group faces, over the span of the next 30 days, with the long-term goal of ameliorating economic and employment issues.
The plan will address education by adding a new technical, multicultural school in Ercilla. The president also announced that there will be more scholarships for Mapuche students and will provide more incentives for the students to complete their studies.
Additionally, five new hospitals are to be built to address healthcare issues.
Piñera also confirmed that proper compensation will be made for those who were assaulted over a week ago.
On 23rd July, an on-going conflict escalated to violent proportions when an estimated 200 Carabinero police from La Romana and Montenegro forestry plantations attempted to evict 60 indigenous people from a plot of land in Ercilla. Accounts say that the Carabineros used tear gas and fired buckshot into the Temucuicui community’s peaceful protest. Ultimately, the police took 12 people into custody, of whom three were said to be minors. Of the total reported injured, five were said to be minors.
Although President Piñera reported to have fully supported the police attacks, he said there would be further investigations into the incident.
The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group with nearly one million members. There is a history of conflict between the Mapuche and police forces, including those based on “extractive” industries or logging companies. The indigenous groups have been battling for their rights to the land, which they consider ancestral property that was taken from them in the late 19th century.