"The neighbors came out and watched in dismay as the building burned to ashes. They are very upset, they don't understand the motives for the attack."
A church was set on fire in Chile on March 4 around midnight. Almost nothing remains of the "Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes", located in the village of California, in the region of Araucanía.
“A group of eight armed and hooded men set fire to the Catholic church Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes”, explains a regional daily, before specifying, “the perpetrators of the attack left a web with Mapuche slogans”.
🔴A gupo of 8 encapuchados armed set fire to the católica church “Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes” located in the California sector of the CH-181 route that a Victoria con Curacautín. Los authores del atentado dejaron un lienzo con consignas mapuche.#attentive #Araucania pic.twitter.com/qriQgsWvPz— UATV Noticias (@UATVNoticias) March 5, 2023
"The neighbors came out and looked in dismay at the building reduced to ashes. They are very upset, they do not understand the motives for the attack", explains Magdalena Lira, national director ofAid to the Church in Need in Chile.
“The flames consumed the building within minutes, leaving the community, made up mainly of Mapuche families, without a place of worship for their activities. The small chapel had been built in 1952 by local villagers, hence the pain felt by the locals watching it burn. Police found only remnants of the metal roof and the occasional ribbon that survived the fire, but little remains to identify it as a religious building."
“By a small miracle,” she adds, “a small plaster image of Mary, long kept in a nearby cave, has been found intact.”
The attack was claimed by the Malleco Mapuche Resistance, a guerrilla group that claims to defend the rights of the Mapuche people. "Some of these small groups, who resort to violence to demand the restitution of land, see Christianity as a symbol of colonization, even if this is not the case", explains Magdalena Lira.