AMERICA/CHILE - "Mapuche conflict": another church burned

Tuesday, 5 April 2016 violence   indigenous   area crisis   local churches  


Temuco (Agenzia Fides) – This morning a fire destroyed a chapel in Quepe, in the municipality of Freire, Chilean region of La Araucania. The chapel had been a reference point for the local faithful for 30 years.
According to the note sent to Fides, we are talking about arson. A contingent of special forces of Carabinieri, in addition to firefighters who worked hard to control the flames, arrived in the area. There was also a black canvas with white lettering, partially destroyed by the fire, that reported the letters "p.p.m.", an acronym commonly used to refer to Mapuche political prisoners.
"In Araucania there is a complex situation, said to Fides His. Exc. Mgr. Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B., Bishop of Temuco -On the one hand there is a historical debt with the Mapuche people. On the other hand, acts of violence increase and spread, with all the problems that this entails". The so-called "Mapuche conflict" surfaced in the 90s where some indigenous communities have been demanding that certain lands they claim for their own but which are now the property of logging and farming companies and individuals be turned over to them (see Fides 19/12/2015).
On 31 March 2016 another Catholic chapel in the area was burned, the chapel of Santa Joaquina. Even here a canvas with an inscription that refers to the Mapuche cause was found.
Earlier, a house had been set on fire in La Araucania (see Fides 07/01/2013), linked to the local Caritas Araucania (see Fides 25/07/2012) and a sanctuary and a home for spiritual retreats (see Fides 09/03/2016). (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 05/04/2016)