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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Boric seeks to extend state of emergency in southern Chile

SANTIAGO ( Associated Press) — President Gabriel Boric won the support of the Chilean Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, and in the afternoon he hopes to receive the consent of the Senate to extend the validity of the state of emergency in two conflictive southern regions so that the armed forces continue to protect the highways, although he rejected opposition demands to expand the areas to be monitored.

Of 142 deputies present in the room, 126 supported the extension of the state of emergency, 7 opposed and 9 abstained. Because it is the second extension, the president needs the approval of Congress.

Hours before Congress began the debate on the state of emergency, unknown individuals interrupted several secondary routes in the Araucanía region with incendiary barricades or felled trees and set a couple of vehicles on fire. Some of the roads were run by the military.

The Truck Owners Confederation warned Tuesday that the cuts “interrupt the logistics chain, with predictable negative consequences for carriers, customers and consumers.”

Until recently, Boric was a staunch opponent of the use of the state of emergency to control the disturbance of public order in La Araucanía and neighboring Biobío, 600 kilometers south of the Chilean capital, and he refused to extend it on March 26, when it expired. a state of exception imposed by his predecessor, Sebastián Piñera. However, the increase in arson attacks and armed attacks forced him to give in.

In both regions, indigenous Mapuches demand the restitution of their ancestral lands. A minority does it violently –by burning trucks and forest machinery– whose actions are mixed with attacks by drug traffickers and thieves of millions of dollars of wood, according to the authorities.

Mapuche deputy Emilia Nuyado, from the ruling party, based her rejection of the extension of the state of emergency by arguing that “I am not willing to continue militarizing” the area. She added that the public policies of the different governments “have been to stigmatize, discriminate and criminalize” the Mapuche people. Her official colleague Emilia Schneider, who supported the government, stressed that Boric, in addition to controlling order on the roads, “is holding dialogues with various indigenous communities and promoting the return of lands.”

Figures provided by the Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches, indicate that a little less than a month after the start of the state of emergency, violent acts decreased by an average of 42%, especially arson attacks on vehicles and machinery. During its beginnings, hooded men murdered a forestry worker, who along with a score of companions was on his way to work.

Many of the deputies who voted in favor of the extension, from the opposition and from the government, unsuccessfully demanded that the military protection be extended to secondary roads and urban areas. Siches replied that “we believe that there are no major changes to be made.”

The head of the cabinet added that the number of soldiers deployed in La Araucanía and Biobío is greater than that set forth in the previous government. Opposition deputy Andrés Longton replied that there are now about 1,300 troops, while Piñera deployed just over 2,000.

World Nation News Desk
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