Indigenous population assert their culture and land rights peacefully: The patience of first peoples – Argentina

A bad place to be indigenous. But Argentina’s ‘original peoples’ are gathering momentum.
A clash of dreams
Indigenous Argentinians, disrespected and ignored for too long, are forging new alliances in their quest to safeguard the natural world […]
As I draw closer, I see the ramshackle collection of painted wooden structures around which people are gathering. This is Punta Querandi, named after the original people of the Buenos Aires area, who fought and successfully repelled the Spanish invaders in 1536. The next time the Spanish tried to conquer the area, in 1580, the Querandi people were not so lucky.
In 2008, remains and artifacts were found here that showed it was an ancient Querandi burial ground. The one-hectare field, which used to be a stop on a now-defunct railway line, was about to be developed, like much of the surrounding area, by EIDICO.
Pablo Badamo, of the organization Movimiento en Defensa de la Pacha (Movement in Defence of the Earth), says: ‘Historically the policy of the state was that there were no indigenous people here. To destroy this cemetery is also to negate their memory.’
The leading light of the campaign to save the field as a sacred space is Pedro Moreira, a septuagenarian indigenous activist and librarian. ‘I realized what richness there was here,’ he says, ‘that here was an archaeological site that dated back 1,000 years, that this was a place where our grandparents lived and walked. So we started having spiritual ceremonies here for all our brothers and sisters.
‘We came with our wiphala to appeal to Pachamama [Mother Earth] to rescue this field. The company’s security guards tried to block our way, to stop our rituals. But people came from far and wide to support us.’
Today is the third anniversary of the occupation – or rather, reclamation – of the site by indigenous people. Gathering are indigenous people from various groups, including the Wichi and Qom – there appear to be no Querandi people left – and also many non-indigenous people. Some are archaeologists, historians, environmentalists or activist.
There are signs and placards telling EIDICO to keep off. Pedro explains: ‘We have tried to avoid falling into a trap of committing a crime by breaking a gate or cutting a wire. We have patience – the patience of first peoples. We are not violent.’ […]

There are at least 35 indigenous groups in Argentina today. The most populous are Mapuche, Kolla, Toba, Guarani, Wichi, Diaguita, Mocovi and Huarpe. The province with the highest proportion of indigenous people is Jujuy province in the Andean northwest.

Source: New Internationalist (print edition), June 2013, pp. 27-29

MercoPress, Wednesday, September 19th 2012

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya called on Argentina to cease the eviction of indigenous communities from their lands, during the presentation of the annual report of his office before the UN Human Rights council in Geneva. […]

Argentina’s ombudsman office supported the report saying he “continues to receive” claims from members of the “Mapuche community Lof Paichil Antriao in the province of Neuquén, the Qom people of Formosa, the Omaguaca people of Jujuy and the Wichi from Salta”. They all claim that the Emergency Law is not being complied. […]

According to official data the indigenous population totals 600.329, which is equivalent to 1.7% of the 42 million Argentines, although other sources mentioned by Anaya estimate the number closer to 2 million made up of 30 autochthonous peoples, settled mainly to the north and south of the country.

The problems of Argentina’s indigenous stems from the “historic de-possession of vast tracks of their lands by ranchers and the big farming, oil and mining corporations which operate in the lands claimed by these communities” which lack “a legal acknowledgement of their lands according to their forms of use and occupation” concludes the report presented by Anaya.

Source: UN calls on Argentina to stop eviction of indigenous peoples from their lands — MercoPress
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MercoPress is an independent news agency which focuses on delivering news related to Mercosur-member countries, covering an area of influence which includes the South Atlantic and insular territories. […]

Mercosur, at present, is made up of the four founding countries from 1991: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Since 2008, Venezuela, Chile and Bolivia are associate members. Besides, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia have expressed their desire to join the group but are to a certain extent limited by their own Andean Nations Community. Mexico has also expressed an interest. […]

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