The top leaders of Chile’s Mapuche people were arrested on Sunday during Huracán, a massive police operation that was supported by the Government and carried out simultaneously in both the Bío Bío and La Araucania regions, in the south of Chile.
All of the eight suspects are currently under investigation after, allegedly, burning lorries and forestry machines in the towns of Lautaro, Temuco and Padre Las Casas, in La Araucanía.
Two of them were also accused of arson terror, related to the burning of 18 lorries close to Ruta 5 Sur, a highway in Padre Las Casas.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office in La Araucanía believes that the organization to which the arrested belong -Coordinadora Arauco Malleco (CAM)- intended to burn up to 100 lorries by the end of the year.
Even though territorial issues have been present in the area for decades, violence has increased in the last couple of months with indigenous groups pressing the Chilean State to regulate the action of forestry companies in La Araucanía.
Four other Mapuche protesters, who were also accused of terrorism by the Government, have been on a hunger strike that, as of 25 September, has been going on for 111 days.
During Monday morning, one of them decided to stop drinking liquids after the Government’s Local Secretary, Vivian Fernández, confirmed that the accusations of terrorism they face are not to be lifted.
According to Fernández, they are stable considering how harmful starvation can result.
To show support towards those Mapuche affected, the main Catholic Cathedral of Concepción, capital city of the Bío Bío region and second biggest city in the country, has been occupied, its doors closed and masses taking place in a contiguous chapel.