It has been a dark week for the Chilean government which, among the many challenges it faces, must deal with the complex situation in the south of the country, specifically in La Araucanía and surrounding regions. Historical area of claim for indigenous lands, the demand has become more complex in recent years with an escalation of violence that includes murders, arson attacks, wood theft, drug trafficking and great firepower, with a State that sometimes seems absent.
President Gabriel Boric, who had resisted enlisting the help of the military, finally had to give in and apply a “limited” state of emergency, which in practice will allow the uniformed men to control the roads. In the hours prior to this decision taken against the grain of some sectors of his political coalition, however, the president has given contradictory signals that leave La Moneda in a bad position to control the complex situation that is taking place in the south of the country.
Last week, the leader of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator, a Mapuche organization dedicated to promoting political violence, made a call to “prepare forces, to organize armed resistance” against the Chilean state. The Government announced that it would file a complaint, as Minister Jeanette Vega, from the Social Development portfolio, explained on Sunday. In the following hours, however, the Minister of the Interior, Izkia Siches, and the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, dismissed the complaint and opened a new path: incorporating the antecedents into legal cases already opened against Llaitul in the past government.
President Boric, however, slammed the matter shut by pointing out that his government “does not pursue ideas or statements, it pursues crimes”, with which the lawsuit against Llaitul was ruled out in the midst of a conflict that has the population of the area in an extreme situation of insecurity, even to move from one place to another.
It was the Prosecutor’s Office itself that was pushed to contradict La Moneda. The spokesman for the Regional Prosecutor’s Office of La Araucanía, Luis Torres, confirmed that the Public Ministry cannot initiate an ex officio investigation into Llaitul’s statements without government action. “These latest declarations of new facts that can configure crimes contemplated in the Law of Internal Security of the State are treated, therefore, the Prosecutor’s Office cannot investigate them ex officio nor incorporate them into current investigations, unless the holder of the criminal action – which in this case is the government – do it, which has not happened so far,” said the spokesman.
According to the State Security Law, the Ministry of the Interior must file a complaint that allows the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate. In Chile, after President Boric described Llaitul’s words as ideas or declarations, an intense debate has begun among specialists, but the conviction prevails that calls to arms and threats against public order constitute crimes classified in Chilean legislation, especially when the armed uprising is already taking place.
In an official coalition that has deep internal differences about the strategy to deploy in the area, the government has given erratic signals that make it difficult to understand its objective. Parallel to the “limited” state of emergency decree to ensure free transit, it has launched an intersectoral plan that includes the purchase of land for indigenous communities, construction of roads and international observers in one of the poorest regions of the country. He called it plan B.good to live.
This was the context in which President Boric decided on Thursday to dismiss the military officer who was in charge of applying the state of emergency, Rear Admiral Jorge Parga Balaresque. He did so only 48 hours after he was appointed by the Government itself, on a proposal from Defense Minister Maya Fernández Allende.
Boric’s decision came after the publication of a letter sent by the family of a young man, Manuel Rebolledo, who during the social outbreak of 2019 was killed by a Marine who was repressing looting. The letter referred to the role of Parga, who before the sentence was known, supported the accused and pointed out: “The Navy is going to defend its officials because we are convinced that he is absolutely innocent.” Later, the infant was convicted of quasi homicide with a sentence of 540 days.
The government spokeswoman, Camila Vallejo, ratified on Thursday that it was the letter that prompted Boric to remove the rear admiral: “Given the background provided by the Rebolledo family, we believe that it is important to act quickly and make this modification and the president as well He has established it,” he said.
This second incident left the Government in a bad position, because it appears to be reversing its own decision. Incidentally, it complicates the Ministry of Defense, relations with the Prosecutor’s Office and the Navy itself, which, unauthorized, will live this Saturday its institutional party on May 21, where Chile decrees a holiday for the Naval Glories.
But they have not been the only contradictory expressions that show that La Moneda has taken the decision to have the military enter the area against the grain. Minister Siches said in the middle of the week that they did not want to be the government that ended with a dead Mapuche community member, as happened in the Administration of Sebastián Piñera (2018-2022), but later assured that if the Armed Forces are attacked “they will have to respond and defend his life.”
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