Chile sends extra police to evict rioting Easter Island squatters

Hannah Godfrey
Sunday 05 December 2010 01:00
Comments

A military plane carrying riot police reinforcements landed on Easter Island yesterday, and Chile's Interior Minister said they will continue evicting Rapa Nui islanders who have been squatting in government buildings built on their ancestral properties. The Rapa Nui are the indigenous inhabitants of the island, which lies over 2,000 miles off the west coast of Chile.

Dozens of people were wounded by police buckshot and batons after violently resisting the first eviction on Friday on the usually tranquil South Pacific island, where as many as 50,000 tourists come each year to see the Moai – huge stone heads carved by the Rapa Nui's ancestors.

Documentary filmmaker Santi Hitorangi, who dug 14 pellets from his backside after police shot him while he videotaped the clash, said the atmosphere remained tense yesterday, with families squatting in a dozen other properties refusing to back down despite the police pressure. Mr Hitorangi said: "What happened yesterday is their way of trying to stop any attempt of the Rapa Nui people to reassert their right to the land. All we're asking for is title to the land. It's a rightful claim. We are not asking the government for anything else."

Many of the Rapa Nui feel squeezed out by the tourism boom, and fear the Chilean government, which annexed the island in 1888, now wants to turn the Unesco World Heritage Site into something like a theme park for the benefit of outside companies, whose profits go offshore.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in