Incidents in a Mapuche march in Chile leave at least 10 arrested and 18 injured

Incidents between protesters and police left at least 10 arrested and 18 injured during a march in favor of the Mapuche people, the largest ethnic group in Chile, held this Sunday in the center of Santiago, the Police reported.

The “March for Mapuche Resistance and Autonomy of the Peoples”, convened through social networks, gathered about a thousand people near Plaza Italia, in the center of the Chilean capital, many of them representatives of communities Mapuches who wore ponchos, the trarilonco (Mapuche headband) and the Mapuche flag.

When the march was moving towards Alameda, Santiago’s main avenue, the Chilean Police dispersed the protest with a strong contingent of troops supported with water and gas launchers.

The protesters responded with sticks and stones in clashes that lasted for at least forty minutes, confirmed an AFP journalist.

The Police reported on Twitter “a woman injured by fireworks, 17 Carabineros injured of varying degrees, 9 arrested for disorders and 1 for carrying a blank weapon.”

During the march, posters with legends such as “Wallmapu (Mapuche territory) free” or “they will not stop our legitimate struggle” were observed, alluding to the historical conflict that the aboriginal people have with the Chilean State, which they demand the restitution of land in the South of the country that it considers its own by ancestral right and that were handed over to private parties, mainly to foresters.

The Mapuche territorial claim and the need for recognition by the Chilean state gained strength in the protests after the social outbreak of October 18, 2019 in Chile.

The Constituent Convention – which marks 100 days on Tuesday since it began to draft a new Constitution – is chaired by the Mapuche academic Elisa Loncon and 17 of its 155 members are representatives of 10 indigenous peoples.

Seven constituents represent the Mapuche people, who hope to resolve indigenous demands in the new Carta Magna.

The lack of a solution to the Mapuche claims has caused an escalation of violence in the last decade in the southern regions of La Araucanía, Biobío and Los Ríos, with arson attacks on private properties and trucks.

The presence of drug trafficking and self-defense organizations, as well as police operations allegedly mounted to blame the indigenous people, also came to light.

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