TIMBER INDUSTRY AND MAPUCHE CLASH OVER LAND

Temuco Regional Government Files Charges Of Security Law Violations

El Mercurio, December 3, 1997


Forestry companies and government officials in the Temuco area are seeking legal relief in the face of alleged violent attacks by indigenous groups attempting to reclaim ancestral lands there.
The governor's office of the Araucania Region filed charges before the Temuco Court of Appeals Tuesday, accusing Mapuche groups of violating domestic security laws.  Authorities are also preparing criminal complaints to seek those responsible for certain attacks.
The Region VIII office of forestry industry advocate Corma supported the regional government, saying that indigenous groups have declared a state of war, and have caused damages in excessof US$575,000 since October 13.  Corma said these groups have destroyed vehicles, sabotaged bridges and stolen small equipment.      
That figure does not include the cost of work stoppages, which have affected small and medium subcontractors of harvesting and transport services on at least four occasions, Cormasaid.  The affected companies, Forestal Alborada Ltda., Transportes Antilco Ltda., Transportes E. Ramirez Ltda. and Transportes AlerceLtda., said fear exists in their workforce and that their personnel have faced death threats.
The companies and government authorities say there isreason to believe the Pichi-Loncoyan and Pilin-Mapu communities have participated in the incidents.  Some 70 members of these and other indigenous communities have participated since October 13 in hostile attempts to occupy the 6,640 hectare Pidenco territory, which they claim ancestral rights to, and which forestry companies are harvesting.  Four hundred of these hectares are forested with radiata pine and the rest of the land is unforested.
Two months of tensions culminated Monday, El Mercurio reports, when Mapuche groups attempted to burn three lumbertrucks belonging to the company Bosques Arauco.  The truckswere passing through Lumaco, in the town of Malleco and near the Pidenco territory claimed by the Mapuche, when some 20 assailants blocked the road, forced the drivers out of their cabs at gunpoint and set fire to the trucks.
Emilio Urbe, head of the regional Corma office, said the assailants techniques suggest they are not only Mapuche, but also professionals who are directing the indigenous groups.
Alfonso Raiman, who is named as an instigator and intellectual author of the crimes in Monday's suit, says he no longer represents the Pichi-Loncoyan and Pilin-Mapu communities.  He said these communities were left out of an agreement which 24 communities around Lumaco made with theNational Indigenous Development Association (Conadi) to recover their lands.  The two communities became obsessed with recovering the Pidenco territory, and apparently sought violent solutions.
Raiman said that despite differences among the indigenous communities, the government cannot deny that it has failed to respond to the social crisis precipitated when large forestry companies enter rural areas and upset the indigenous way of life.
Conadi Director Domingo Namancura expressed regret Tuesday over the incidents, and said they were isolated cases which do not characterize indigenous communities.
 
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