Chile’s Bachelet promises to return land to indigenous people

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Chile's President Michelle Bachelet speaks after the signing of agreements at the second day of the 2014 Alianza del Pacifico (Pacific Alliance) political summit in Punta MitaPresident Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday announced a plan to buy and return disputed ancestral lands to Chile’s indigenous communities as part of a strategy to better incorporate them into the country’s political process and economic development. Chile’s indigenous peoples, which include the Mapuche, Aymara and Diaguita, have an underweight representation in Congress and often face a harsh economic reality in what is otherwise one of Latin America’s wealthiest countries. Years of conflict over land claims have increasingly flared into violence between the Mapuche, the largest indigenous group, and local farmers, forestry companies and police, putting pressure on the government to act. “It has been nearly 25 years since we got back our democracy,” Bachelet said at the presidential palace in Santiago, flanked by representatives of indigenous communities.