A land dispute on Easter Island, Rapa Nui Chile, turned violent on Friday when riot police who were evicting islanders from their ancestral home were surrounded by rock-throwing protesters. About two dozen people were injured in a seven-hour confrontation.
Ten 10 people were being evicted from the home they had occupied since ousting a government official from the property in September.
The Rapa Nui resisted and the violence left 17 officers and eight civilians hurt. Three islanders and one policeman were evacuated to mainland Chile for treatment.
The official native name of Easter Island, known for its stunning gigantic stone heads known as Moais, is Rapa Nui, and that’s what many natives call themselves, refusing to identify with Chile, which annexed the island in 1888.
In recent years, tourism and migration have increased pressure to control available land on the 10 mile by 15 mile island, and the Rapa Nui have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, seizing a dozen properties they said were illegally taken from their families generations ago.
About a dozen buildings are currently being occupied by Rapa Nui people, who say Chile illegally took their family’s ancestral homes on tiny Easter Island, where a total population of fewer than 5,000 people include about 2,200 Rapa Nuis.
I have co-authored an article about how Spain used the international law Doctrine of Discovery to acquire Chile, and we write about Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Check it out.