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Chile announces state of emergency as conflict between state and indigenous minorities escalates

Chile has announced a state of emergency in southern areas after being shaken by conflict between indigenous Mapuche groups and the state.

President Gabriel Boric’s administration declared the state of emergency after the violence escalated.

The military have been guarding routes and highways in areas in the epicentre of the conflict after interior minister Izkia Siches announced the constitutional state of emergency on Monday.

Several Mapuche groups demanded the return of ancestral lands where forestry companies currently operate.

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Citizens including Mapuche activists, security forces and forestry workers have been killed in the conflict, with the sabotage and the burning of homes, trucks and machinery increasing in recent years.

“It is evident that in recent times we have had an increase in acts of violence on the roads, we have witnessed cowardly attacks”, said Ms Siches in a press conference from La Moneda government palace.

The interior minister added: “We have decided to make use of all the tools of the state to provide security to our citizens.”

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She said President Boric’s left-wing government will allocate about $470m for public works projects in the area along with the plans announced previously to promote land restitution and create a ministry for indigenous peoples.

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The tensions have been rumbling for decades over land reform and discrimination.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project (ACLED), indigenous communities are a minority making up 12% of Chile’s population and 79% of these are members of the Mapuche ethnic group, making them the largest indigenous community in the country.

ACLED say the rights of indigenous people are not recognised by Chile’s constitution as they continue to face racial discrimination and live in poor, rural parts in the south of the country.

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