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The Mapuches: Chile's Overlooked Security Problem

Diego Solis
Field Researcher, Stratfor
Mar 26, 2017 | 13:01 GMT
Chile's largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, protest in Santiago on Oct. 12, 2015. The group is working to reclaim land taken from them during the country's military dictatorship.
Chile's largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, protest in Santiago on Oct. 12, 2015. The group is working to reclaim land taken from them during the country's military dictatorship.
(CHRISTIAN MIRANDA/AFP/Getty Images)

There's no shortage of militant movements in Latin America, including left-wing colectivos in Venezuela and right-wing paramilitary squads in Colombia. But one group in southern Chile receives less attention than the rest -- not for any lack of fierceness or importance. Chile is one of the most geographically isolated countries in the world. In the country's north, the Atacama Desert has prevented the establishment of large human settlements. East of Santiago the Andean mountain chain has hampered political and social coordination with Argentina. And to the west the vast Pacific Ocean separates Chile from all but a few far-flung islands, including Easter Island. South of the Bio Bio River, a human rather than physical encumbrance has hindered settlement. The Mapuche tribe, through guerilla warfare, prevented the Spanish conquistadors from uniting their Chilean settlements and still wages war on the Chilean state today....

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