Chile: Two Deaths in Fire Reportedly Linked to Mapuche Protests


A landowner and his wife have been killed in a fire provoked by a group of 20 masked men, in Auracanía, South Chile, according to Chilean newspaper Ultima Hora.

Bernard Luchsinger, 75, and his wife Vivianne Mackay were reported dead by Luchsinger’s cousin Jorge Luchsinger on Radio Agricultura.

The Chilean government reacted strongly and instantly pointed towards the Mapuche community.

“We are in the presence, once again, of a terrorist act, of an extremely serious act against the lives of two people who have been a symbol of the fight for the defence their land,” said Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick.

A photo of the blaze posted by deputy Gonzalo Arenas on twitter

This week coincides with the fifth anniversary of the death of Matías Catrileo who was shot dead by a policeman during the occupation of an agricultural property in 2008. Catrileo is the 13th Mapuche victim since the conflict between private landowners and indigenous communities was rekindled after the return of democracy in the 1990s.

Reports have emerged of leaflets and pamphlets being found on the location of the fire commemorating Catrileo’s death. However no Mapuche group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Miguel Angel Velásquez, confirmed that one suspect was arrested in connection with the blaze. Velásquez added that the suspect, identified as 26-year-old Celestino Córdova Tránsito by El Ciudadano, was currently being treated at the Temuco Regional Hospital for a “minor bullet wound”.

The local newspaper also reported that violent retaliations are being carried out at the time of writing on Mapuche communities in the Cautín area. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera is expected to arrive in the region, 600 km south of Santiago, during the course of today. According to Infobae Piñera will then hold a press conference to outline the steps the government will take in relation with the case.

Earlier this week Interior Minister Chadwick had defended the use of an antiterrorist put in place by Pinochet’s dictatorship against militant Mapuche groups.

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