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Chilean social activist dies in mysterious circumstances

ANOTHER social movement leader has been found dead in mysterious circumstances in Chile as calls grow for thorough investigations into the growing number of opposition activist deaths.

Association of Indigenous Communities of Chan Chan president Marcelo Vega Cortes was found dead at the mouth of the River Lingue after his car seemingly careered off the road.



His body was discovered floating in the water and the homicide brigade of the Investigation Police of Valdivia is now investigating.

Mr Vega Cortes was a leading opponent of plans by the Celulosa Arauco-CELCO company to build a pipeline which would have pumped waste into the river.

His death raised suspicions of foul play, given that a number of other opposition leaders have been found dead in mysterious circumstances over recent years.

Among them was Macarena Valdes, a high-profile Mapuche environmental activist who opposed the construction of a mini hydroelectric dam near her home in the town of Liquine, in Chile’s Los Rios region.

After she was found hanged at her home in 2016, the autopsy and subsequent investigation led many observers to believe that her death was a murder staged to look like suicide.

Defence Committee of the Sea of Mehuin spokesman Eliab Viguera warned of “the mafia act of companies like CELCO and the irregular actions of the state agencies.”

He called for “an exhaustive investigation” into the death of Mr Vega Cortes, saying that foul play was suspected because his vehicle was found only half-submerged and he was known to be a good swimmer.

“We have doubts regarding the investigations that are being carried out, especially considering the suspicions surrounding the death of Macarena Valdes … and the cases of other leaders at the national level who have also turned up dead in circumstances that could not be clarified,” Mr Viguera said.


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