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FLASH ALERT: HIGH RISK OF POSSIBLE TERRORIST ATTACKS BY THE MAPUCHE LEVKENCHE RESISTANCE IN CHILE

FLASH ALERT: HIGH RISK OF POSSIBLE TERRORIST ATTACKS BY THE MAPUCHE LEVKENCHE RESISTANCE IN CHILE


Team: Stacey Casas, Jhamil Moya, Daniel Ruiz, SOUTHCOM Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Monday, April 4, 2022



Protesting the release of Mapuche prisoners in Chile.[1]



The Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT for the Chilean civilian population, with special attention to Contulmo City, Arauco Province, and the entire Bio Bio Region. This is following a terrorist attack by the Mapuche Lavkenche Resistance (RML), who adjudicated an arson attack in Cantulmo on Friday, April 1, 2022, in which 15 homes and two vehicles were set on fire in the Paillawe Sector. The RML has set a 48-hour deadline for Gabriel Boric, the President of Chile, to meet its four demands, also warning that if these demands are not met, more attacks will occur. The demands include: the immediate withdrawal of all the lawsuits in which the Government is the prosecutor in Mapuche cases; the dismissal of all lawyers of the Provincial Delegations who have litigated in the Mapuche cases; the immediate transfer to the Education and Labor Centers (CET) of all convicted Mapuche political prisoners who already meet the requirements and who have been trapped by the political decisions of the Gendarmerie; the Government to order their lawyers not to appeal the annulment petition being presented to the Supreme Court on Monday, April 4.[2] However, the undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, affirmed on Sunday, April 3, that the Government "will not dialogue with threats."[3] The current terrorist threat has a great short-term impact on national security, and in the long term, at the international level, given that the territories claimed by the Mapuche group include Argentina as well.


CTG is on HIGH ALERT due to the possibility that RML members will carry out additional attacks in the Bio Bio Region if the Chilean government does not comply with their demands. It is VERY LIKELY that the tensions between the RML and the Chilean government will increase. Although Boric has stated that he would like to "continue the path of dialogue," it is unlikely that he will be able to meet the short time frame set by the RML and the nature of the demands. The Chilean government's inability to meet demands will very likely lead RML members to increase attacks to pressure the administration into complying. However, the government has stated that under acts of violence there will be no possibility of dialogue or agreement with the government.[4]


The “Mapuche conflict” which pits the indigenous group against the government, is based on Mapuche’s claims that their inhabited lands are being taken by large agricultural and forestry companies.[5] Indigenous groups in Chile seek to strengthen the government’s recognition for greater autonomy, recognition of rights, and the return of historical lands.[6] The problem very likely began with the formation of the Chilean state, which caused indigenous groups to lose their territories. This loss caused them to pass into private hands for the exploitation of forestry, dairy, and agricultural resources. The lack of dialogue between the Mapuche and the Chilean government, despite multiple attempts, has almost certainly escalated social unrest and levels of protests and violence in the country. Unless President Boric is able to reach an amicable agreement between the State and the indigenous groups, it is very likely social unrest will continue. If social unrest increases, it is very likely that people will start protesting for the political rights of the indigenous community, which will probably lead to further instability in the Bío Bío Region.


The Bio Bio Region[7]


On Friday, April 1, just after 2000 local time, authorities were informed of a violent arson attack that damaged 15 homes and two cars in the province of Arauco.[8] According to eyewitnesses, about 40 hooded and armed men forced them out of their homes before setting them on fire. When security services tried to move to the area they encountered roads obstructed by trees blocking access to the location of the attack. These increased the risk of controlling the fire since both the fire department and the ambulance unit could not reach the affected area quickly. The fires were put out just after 2200 local time.[9]


The increase in violence and the frequency of attacks by the RML is almost a certainty since there is no positive response from the government to their demands. However, it is very likely that the left-wing president Boric will try to solve the Mapuche territorial problem through dialogue. The radicalization of this group will likely increase its pressure, almost certainly increasing the number of terrorist attacks in the region using guerrilla warfare, since the Colombian narco-terrorist organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-EP (FARC - EP) trained Mapuche radical groups in 2010 in this type of combat.[10] Said knowledge and its practice almost certainly mean that the conflict could last for decades, although it is important to consider that the most lethal guerrilla tactics, like attacking civilian or police locations, have not been used yet. Therefore, it is very likely that the conflict could also become bigger and more serious.


If the current administration reaches an agreement with the Mapuche community, this will likely cause the administration to face backlash from private companies and large consortiums with investment interests in the area. This will likely cause a decrease in private investment, resulting in the loss of monetary income for the State, likely leading to reductions in social spending hindering economic advancement. Although private investment will likely decrease in the Bio Bio Region, this will likely increase Boric’s popularity among the citizens, very likely reducing the social unrest and violence it is creating in the country. Increased violence and political instability will likely lead companies to abandon the region, almost certainly having a negative impact on the economy and security of Chile.


The SOUTHCOM Team recommends that Chilean law enforcement authorities deployed in the Bio Bio Region actively monitor suspicious people and movement in the region in order to prevent further arson attacks. Local firefighters should remain on high alert to effectively respond to any RML arson attack. Additionally, the CTG recommends that local authorities reinforce security at critical infrastructure buildings such as power plants, oil refineries, and water treatment plants as they could be targets of terrorist attacks. Finally, SOUTHCOM and the CTG recommend that the Chilean government continue its efforts to strengthen dialogue with the RML and other Mapuche groups in order to agree on a peaceful solution to the conflict and mitigate the risks of further terrorist attacks in the country.


CTG assesses that the current climate of threat is HIGH in the Bio Bio Region and in areas with a high presence of Mapuche communities such as La Araucanía due to the high probability of the use of arson attacks against huts, vehicles, and infrastructure. If Chilean authorities react efficiently, arrests of RML members will likely occur. Due to the recent history of violence in the Bio Bio Region, it is very likely that instability will continue until the government and the RML reach an agreement regarding territorial disputes. It is important for the Chilean government to reduce this threat given that if any attack materializes it is very likely to affect public and private property and the lives of civilians and members of the security forces in the region.


Analysis indicates that there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that violence will increase from the RML group against the Chilean government and the private companies operating. This will almost certainly pose an increased risk for Chilean citizens and neighboring countries, such as Argentina, as civilians and private companies in the Bio Bio region will likely seek to flee the violence. Analysis indicates that the conflict will very likely have social, economic, and political impacts throughout the country, particularly if the government is unable to stop the rising violence in the region.

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[1]Freedom” by Edgardo Gomez licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

[2] Resistencia Mapuche Lavkenche se adjudicó ataque en Contulmo: Dan 48 horas para cumplir exigencias, T13, April, 2022, https://www.t13.cl/noticia/nacional/resistencia-mapuche-lavkenche-se-adjudico-ataque-incendiario-dan-48-horas-cumplir-exigencias (translated by Jhamil Moya)

[3] Gobierno de Chile dice que no dialogará con grupos radicales tras amenazas, SWI, April, 2022, https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/chile-conflicto_gobierno-de-chile-dice-que-no-dialogar%C3%A1-con-grupos-radicales-tras-amenazas/47488324 (translated by Jhamil Moya)

[4] Boric por situación en la Macrozona Sur: Quienes crean que la violencia es el camino están equivocados, Cooperativa CL, April 2022, https://radio.uchile.cl/2022/04/03/gabriel-boric-por-conflicto-mapuche-no-vamos-a-cejar-en-el-camino-del-dialogo/ (translated by Daniel Ruiz)

[5] Chile extiende nuevamente la militarización de la zona del conflicto mapuche, SWI, February 2022, https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/chile-violencia_chile-extiende-nuevamente-la-militarizaci%C3%B3n-de-la-zona-del-conflicto-mapuche/47374000 (translated by Jhamil Moya)

[6] Mapuche Movements in Chile: From Resistance to Political Recognition, SFS, May 2021, https://gjia.georgetown.edu/2021/05/21/mapuche-movements-in-chile-from-resistance-to-political-recognition/

[7] “Biobio in Chile" by TUBS licensed under Creative Commons

[8] Before the Mapuche conflict, the Chilean president calls for respect for the law, News Collective, April 2022, https://www.newscollective.co.nz/before-the-mapuche-conflict-the-chilean-president-calls-for-respect-for-the-law/

[9] Arson attack by 40 hooded men in Contulmo leaves 11 houses and 2 trucks on fire | National, NewsBeezer, April 2022, https://newsbeezer.com/chileeng/arson-attack-by-40-hooded-men-in-contulmo-leaves-11-houses-and-2-trucks-on-fire-national/

[10] La Fiscalía chilena recibe un dossier con supuestos vínculos de los mapuches y las FARC, El Mundo, August 2010, https://www.elmundo.es/america/2010/08/05/noticias/1281020569.html (translated by Daniel Ruiz)

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