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  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has stated that the Comando Jungla will be withdrawn from the Araucania, after the killing of Mapuche leader Camilo Catrillanca.

    Chilean President Sebastian Piñera has stated that the Comando Jungla will be withdrawn from the Araucania, after the killing of Mapuche leader Camilo Catrillanca. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 December 2018

Chilean president Sebastian Piñera has stated that the GOPE will be withdrawn from the Araucania region, where the Mapuche People are defending their claim to ancestral lands.

The right-wing Chilean President, Sebastian Piñera, stated Saturday that he will withdraw the Carabinero's Special Operations Group (GOPE), from the Araucania region, where the police have repressed and clashed with the ancestral inhabitants of the region, the Mapuche people.

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The measure comes after several weeks of unrest and tension in the Araucania region, a situation that intensified after the killing of Camilo Catrillanca on Nov. 14,  a Mapuche leader murdered by the Chilean police, known as the Carabinernos.

"We are going to withdraw the Gope, but we are going to reinforce the Special Forces in La Araucanía, which are forces that are in all the regions of the country and that are especially necessary in Araucanía," stated Piñera during his ministers' council that happened in Qullota, on Saturday.

He also explained that the Plan Araucania will be reinforced and will become a priority, which looks for better means of dialogue and development in the region, according to Piñeira. "Regarding the Araucania, we will reinforce the Araucania Plan in its four pillars: dialogue and agreements, economic and social development, revaluation and recognition of the indigenous peoples," he stated.

The killing of Catrillanca has resulted in four police officers being investigated, and now their lawyer is also being investigated for allegedly providing false statements. The officials said that the murder had occurred in the context of confrontations between community members and the police; also declaring they weren't carrying any cameras at the time. Both statements were proven to be false.

The assassination of Camilo Catrillanca has hindered the implementation of the Araucania Plan by the neoliberal government of Piñera. It also prompted nationwide protests against police brutality in the region. This brutality is being promoted by the Chilean state's anti-terrorism law, that was issued to prosecute the Mapuche people defending a claim over their ancestral lands.

On Tuesday, President Piñera stated that "many mistakes have already been made by many governments by blindly trusting the first version of the Carabineros." The Chilean Carabineros, created in 1927 but strengthened during the Pinochet regime, is known as one the most severe police forces in Latin America, that has repressed the Mapuche people for years, as well as different social protests.

The GOPE, also known as the Comando Jungla (Jungle Comando), "will be replaced with Carabinieros Special Forces because we have come to the conclusion that by strengthening and reinforcing the Special Forces of the area we can obtain better results in terms of security and give greater guarantees that the procedures used will always be the right ones," stated Piñera. 

Mapuche leaders have demanded the demilitarization of the region, on Saturday, December 2, stating, "We demand the current government to urgently dismantle and remove said police unit (Jungle Command) considering that this constitutes a permanent threat, violating our right to live in peace, violating the rights of our children, women and the elderly."

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