CHILE TO INVEST $203 MILLION ON RESTLESS RAPA NUI

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Goal to improve infrastructure, resolve controversy

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Oct. 25, 2010) - There’s been a mixed reaction on the island of Rapa Nui to Chile’s NZ$270 million [US$203.4 million] investment package for its remote territory.

Chile’s Vice President’s announced a plan to improve infrastructure, boost tourism, regulate migration and resolve ancestral land issues during a visit to the island last week.

Rodrigo Hinzpeter spoke of Chile’s outstanding debt to native people like the Rapa Nui which it wanted to repay.

The package comes after long-running protests over ancestral land and a beefed up security presence by Chile.

But one Rapa Nui representative Raul Teao likened the land initiatives to pills and the head of the Rapa Nui parliament Leviante Ariki said underlying issues have still not been addressed.

Tourism operator, Conny Martin, says the investments long overdue with roads a mess and Infrastructure in sore need of funds. She welcomes an extra tax on tourists who come in their thousands to view the island’s ancient giant sculptures.

Protestors held up Mr. Hinzpeter’s flight home but Ms Martin says they were kicked out by other islanders wanting to ensure Rapa Nui’s reputation as a tourist destination.

[PIR editor’s note: Earlier news on Rapa Nui reports that over 1,000 people occupying buildings were forced out at gunpoint by Chile’s military and Rapa Nui children are being subjected to violence. Chile’s military doubled its forces in Rapa Nui recently.]

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