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News > Chile

Mystery Over Death of Pipeline Opposition Social Leader

  • Mystery Over Death of Pipeline Opposition Social Leader.

    Mystery Over Death of Pipeline Opposition Social Leader. | Photo: el Desconcierto

Published 4 February 2019

Marcelo Vega, president of the Association of Indigenous Communities of Chan Chan, was found dead at the mouth of the Lingue River, but authorities are baffled as to how he was found there.

In yet another tragic death of an indigenous leader in South America, 47 year-old Chilean community chief Marcelo Vega was mysteriously found dead in the Lingue River of Chile's Mehuín region.

Peru: Environmental Leader Opposing Mining, Shot Dead

The Homicide Brigade (BH) of the Investigation Police of Valdivia, the Province where Vega was found floating in the Lingue River, are investigating the suspicious circumstances, as well as the whereabouts of Vega's passenger.

Vega Cortés had been a staunch opponent of the Celulosa Arauco-CELCO company, who had been planning to install a pipeline to dispose of waste into the river. 

The spokesman for the Defense Committee of the Sea of ​​Mehuín, Eliab Viguera, argued that the death of Macarena Valdés in Panguipulli, as well as the numerous cases of leaders whose deaths were suspicious "merits a very exhaustive investigation."

He told Chilean publication, el Desconcierto that, "In the flesh we have lived the mafia act of companies like CELCO and the irregular actions of the state agencies."

Valdés - a prominent Mapuche environmental activist, was found hanged in her home in 2016, after fighting against the construction of a mini-hydroelectric dam over her property in Liquine, Los Rios. 

After a detailed autopsy and investigation, it had become apparent that her death was a murder case, with her hanging being simulated to appear to be suicide, according to the article "Chile: Lies, dam lies and a Mapuche activist murdered."

After Valdés' murder, the Mapuche community in Tranguil issued a statement that read, "Through our history in Latin America we know that this crime corresponds to the way in which, both state policies and business groups, repress through terror and silencing the dissidence and diversity of peoples."

The fact that in the case of Marcelo Vega, his green pickup truck was only halfway submerged, even though he had prior diving knowledge, and was in a situation where he was able to swim to safety, is grounds for an investigation, as thorough as Valdés.' 

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