SANTIAGO ( Associated Press) — Chilean President Gabriel Boric announced Tuesday that he is analyzing a modality that allows the armed forces to collaborate in controlling violence in the southern regions of the country, but reiterated his rejection of decreeing a state of emergency as demanded by groups of truckers.
The president made the announcement at a time when dozens of truck drivers are carrying out partial strikes in at least three sectors of important roads in the regions of La Araucanía and Biobío, some 600 kilometers south of the Chilean capital, to demand greater security in your transfers.
“We are working on installing intermediate states so that the military forces can protect, for example, the highways,” Boric said in an interview with the Cooperativa radio station.
“I ask all parliamentarians that we have the will to discuss it, with discussions that have to be very strict… (because) handing over powers to the military forces is not something that can be naturalized,” he added.
Most of the mobilized drivers, who only allow smaller vehicles or food and fuel transport vehicles, demand that Boric decree the state of emergency that the president refused to renew when it expired on March 26.
The drivers began their work stoppages, in which the owners of the trucks did not participate, after on April 22 hooded men shot and seriously injured a driver in the arm and in the back of the head. The tension grew shortly after when unknown individuals burned some thirty trucks in an attack that was claimed by the Weichan Auka Mapu indigenous group that demands the restitution of ancestral lands.
Arson and firearm attacks are common in these two southern regions, inhabited mostly by indigenous people, but have intensified in recent weeks.
Former President Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022) imposed a state of emergency in the south, which allowed more than 2,000 soldiers to collaborate with the police in security controls. Drivers demand that it be reinstated.
In order for Boric – who took office on March 11 – to create an intermediate state that allows the use of the armed forces, he needs the votes of the center-left and some of the right-wing opposition because his political coalition, Approve Dignity, is a minority in Congress. The opposition favors the state of exception.
12% of the 19 million Chileans are indigenous and most of them are demanding through peaceful means the restitution of their ancestral lands in the south that were taken from them in the 19th century.