The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that ther is anxiety about Chilean security forces landing on Easter Island, and that the government could come down hard on local protesters.
Last week, Chile sent 45 police officers to Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, to “monitor” the situation, saying it might use force after protesters occupied government buildings, the English-language Santiago Times reported Tuesday.
Some activists worried the police would attack demonstrators, the paper said.
Activists began occupying public property about two weeks ago, claiming ancestral ownership of the land. They occupied about 30 properties on the island, including museums, government buildings, the local tourism office and a hotel.
Easter Island occupies the eastern point of the Polynesian Triangle, with Hawaii and New Zealand at the other corners. The island, annexed by Chile in the 1880s, is home to descendants of those who built enormous stone figures known as moai.
Activists occupied the runway of the island’s airport last August, protesting the influx of immigrants from Chile. The protests were resolved peacefully through negotiations with the government. The last protest resulted in the Chilean government introducing a bill to limit migration to the island.
About 4,000 people live on the island, with a little more than half Rapa Nuian.