Newly inaugurated Chilean President Sebastian Piñera is using the reformed Antiterrorism Law to target Mapuche Indigenous activists who are demanding that the government return the Bio-Bio and Araucania regions to them that previous administrations sold off to businesses and land grabbers.
Piñera signed into effect the reformed law days ago - in front of a slew of male business owners and police - and the administration is already using it to send in well-armed, military-style police to attack and arrest unarmed Mapuche protesters in Temuco, 845 km south of Santiago.
The police are using water cannons and excessive force against demonstrators who are demanding the return of their rightful land taken from both the Chilean and Argentine governments at the end of the 19th century.
Democratic Christian legislator who represents the Araucania region, Francisco Huenchumilla, said of the reform "when the government arrives in Araucania it comes with batons and a modified and highly questionable Antiterrorism Law."
Huenchumilla added the law is meant to "divide the region … (and) criminalize the political problem in the region." The senator said the law is specifically directed at the Mapuche.
The 11 changes allow the government to use drones, undercover agents, GPS tracking, and phone tapping against those it suspects of "terrorism." The legislation also broadens the definition of “terrorist” to include individuals, not just associations.
Mapuche leaders say that this Piñera administration is looking like that of former dictator Augusto Pinochet's government as their region becomes increasingly militarized.
For the Mapuche leader, Ana Llao, the signing of the law means that "Piñera came here and told us - look, Mapuches, you’re going to rebel and I’m going to apply this (law)."