Chilean salmon farmers condemn “terrorist” arson attack in La Araucanía

Published on
July 14, 2021

Chile’s Salmon Council – comprised of the companies AquaChile, Cermaq, Mowi, and Salmones Aysén as well as the Magallanes Salmon Farming Organization – have condemned yet another arson attack that has affected the south of Chile, where the country’s salmon sector is concentrated.

“We strongly reject and condemn the attacks that have occurred in recent days in the La Araucanía Region,” they said in a statement. “We express our solidarity with the victims of the attacks and hope that progress will be made towards a national agreement that will allow us to join forces to defeat this wave of terrorist attacks in southern Chile.”

A video accessed by the Radio Bío Bío Temuco team shows the exact moment when the trucks were attacked near the town of Pidima, in the Araucanía region.

According to Radio Bío Bío, on the morning of Monday 12 July, five trucks – three of which were transporting salmon – and a van were attacked in the Pidima sector and their drivers forced to get out of their vehicles which were subsequently burned. In the attack, three people were injured and transferred to medical facilities for treatment; one had been shot in his hand.

The event was attributed to the indigenous group Mapuche Malleco Resistance in retaliation for the death of Pablo Marchant, a member of Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM) indigenous organization that advocates for the creation of an autonomous Mapuche state in Araucanía where they claim historical rights. Marchant had recently been killed during an armed confrontation in Carahue.

“These acts of violence put at risk the development of the country and a series of productive activities that take place in the southern macrozone of Chile,” the Salmon Council said. “We are sure that violence will never be the way to resolve differences and we call on institutional channels to address them.”

The incident is not the first in Chile. Last year, truck drivers led a seven-day strike to protest against increased violence they face, particularly in the south, including theft of their vehicles and cargoes, burning of the freighter trucks as well as increased activism from some members of the Mapuche indigenous group.

Further, at the beginning of the year, Cermaq Chile was the victim for a second time in under a year of arson, with vandals breaking into a smolt facility owned by the company and setting the offices and warehouses ablaze.

At that time, the group that perpetrated the attack reportedly left some pamphlets on Cermaq premises, protesting against the construction of the Freire-Villarrica four-laned highway. The illustration on the pamphlet was designed similar to the symbol for the Mapuche indigenous people, and press reported that the group also asked for the release of indigenous prisoners, which they consider political prisoners, and an end to logging activity in the Araucanía region.  

Photo courtesy of MAV Drone/Shutterstock

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