Government Assists Oil Company’s invasion of Mapuche Lands

Government Assists Oil Company’s invasion of Mapuche Lands

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John Ahni Schertow
August 13, 2007
 

Piedra del Aguila, an oil corporation funded by US capital, is occupying lands belonging to Mapuche community Wentru Tahuel Leufu– and the Argentine government has responded by giving the land to Piedra del Aguila. And to top it off, the company filed an appeal against community, which was promptly accepted by Cutralco’s Judge Graciela Blanco–overtly ignoring the guaranteed rights of the Mapuche and all other Indigenous People in Argentina.

From Real World Radio – In an interview with El Arka radio station, Curruhuinca described the situation suffered by Mapuche indigenous. The situation has become extremely serious, after the company filed an appeal against community members, which was accepted by Cutralco’s Judge Graciela Blanco, ignoring the rights that the province must guarantee to indigenous peoples.

“The provincial government is delivering everything before the end of its term in office”, Curruhuinca said. He added that “we are getting tired of this, we spend every penny we earn on these conflicts”.

The Mapuche leader said indigenous believe that it is necessary to oppose the activities of mining companies in their territories, otherwise there will be nothing left for the future generations.

“Their work will damage our territory, our families. We struggle for our territory because we have raised a great family. If we let oil companies in, everything will be destroyed within 10 years, and what will we leave to our offspring, to the ‘konas’ that will come after us, to our family? If we do not defend our territory, our roots will die, will end with time, something that has already happened in other towns”, he said.

Curruhuinca added that this oil company is one of the funders of the campaign of Neuquen governor Jorge Sobisch, who is running for President. He added that this is not an isolated incident and that they are meeting other communities in order to face the problem.

The Mapuche leader said provincial authorities are aware of the problems linked with the advance of oil companies and that is why they have delayed the process to deliver them titles over lands. He added that five years ago, provincial authorities tried to negotiate titles over the territories, but the community refused to do so, because they were not willing to pay for their territories.

“I understand that indigenous peoples do not need to do any proceeding. You have to go before the authorities and say ‘we are indigenous people and we want the titles over the lands we live in’. Because if you are not straightforward, they engage you in a game that makes you recognize that they are the owners. Indigenous peoples existed before the State, the Constitution provides there is an ethnic and cultural pre-existence, so these lands belong to us, that’s it”.

Last but not least, Curruhuinca said the company had conducted environmental impact studies without the participation of the community—something that is demanded by the Constitution—and said the community opposes the company and will not let it ruin their territory.

“We said that we will not allow seismographic work until we solve the problem with the Judge. We will not let them enter and destroy the fields where we grow our animals. Especially now, in bad years, with no rains and when animals are skinny”, the Mapuche leader said. (source)

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