Original communities in Argentina march to demand the law that suspends evictions from ancestral lands

The original communities of Argentina mobilize this Tuesday throughout the national territory to demand the extension of the law 26.160 Indigenous Territorial Emergency. The normative suspends the eviction or vacating of lands considered ancestral and orders the national and provincial states to carry out a cadastral technical study of the lands they inhabit.

The law was promulgated in 2006 for 4 years, and since then it has been revalidated by Congress until today, since the term expired without the population studies being completed. Thus, privatization and advancement over the territories historically claimed by indigenous peoples continues to open conflicts, especially in lands where there are still exploitable natural resources.

Despite the claims of the communities, on November 23, Law 26,160 expired again without Congress extending it in the Chamber of Deputies, so President Alberto Fernández did so by decree.

However, in this way the regulation presents legal weaknesses that make can be annulled by a court ruling. For this reason, for a month, communities throughout the country have set up a camp in front of the parliamentary building in Buenos Aires to demand the treatment of the Territorial Emergency, which has already had a half-sanction in the Senate and remains to be debated in Deputies. The key session is expected to take place on December 6.

“The situation forces us to stay here to be visible. We are not going to abandon the fight, because the decree does not give us security “, comments to MRT Octorina Zamora, a Wichí reference and member of the Kajianteya Foundation.

Since the law came into effect, more than 700 pre-existing indigenous communities have been registered and are ready to receive title to their community territories. However, the conflict has been aggravated in the south of the country by a series of attacks against private properties awarded to the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance (RAM), an alleged armed group that claims occupation of territories that they consider to be “historically Mapuche” within the Argentine state. As in Chile, these types of actions are responded to by the authorities with more militarization, and generate more violence and stigmatization.

Recently, an ultra-nationalist Catholic group distributed threatening pamphlets against the community: “Death to the Mapuches. Outside of Bahía Blanca. Outside of Argentina”says the letter signed by the ‘National Restoration Command’ and addressed to the community member Olga Curipán, as revealed Page 12.

“The stigmatization that the Mapuche people are suffering in the south of the country has to do with a systematic planThis is premeditated and goes against all indigenous peoples “, says in dialogue with this medium Néstor Jerez, chief of the Ocloya town of the Jujuy province.

Against stigmatization and extermination

For the leader, with the help of the hegemonic media, he wants to install the idea that everyone is violent so that the society of what is now called Argentina rejects the legitimate demand of the pre-existing peoples: “Behind this plan there is a dominated economic power by the multinationals and the great capitalist powers not only of Argentina, but of the entire region, who have the ambition and greed to continue to deepen the looting of our natural assets. We are an obstacle in his plan and that is why it is taking us so much to advance with the extension, “warns Jerez from the camp in front of Congress.

Octorina Zamora adds that in the province of Salta there are businessmen who are waiting for the law to fall in order to start clearing again. Even in the city of Embarcación, a highway is planned over indigenous territory. “If we do not star in this fight they will pass us by”, he points out.

The Jujuy chief recalls the cases of Rafael Nahuel, Santiago Maldonado, Javier Chocobar and recently Elías Garay, who died at the hands of repressive forces of the State in the framework of the territorial dispute. Therefore, Jerez says, “If this law is not extended there will be a massacre”, since there are several eviction orders issued.

“We are discussing the paradigm of life based on the good living of millennial peoples, and on the other side we have the paradigm of death, with the consequences of the policies that are carried out through exploitation, pollution, imbalance and the irreversible damages that are caused on mother earth, and that are already reflected in climate change and global warming. That is why we say that this fight must belong to everyone“, says Jerez.

And he adds: “We know that the right wing has historically denied and oppressed us and they want to make us disappear. That is why we need to challenge the popular camp. We want to know where the indigenous peoples are on the agenda.”

However, Jerez clarifies, the original communities of Argentina need to stop being political objects and become actors; to be made visible as a subject of collective law and to move towards the construction of a plurinational state like the one that exists today in Bolivia, where these sectors have greater representation in politics and the organs of power. “There is a process already started and we have brothers of different identities who are representatives in the legislatures of their provinces. It is a seed that will take time, but the plant has already been born. We must be in those powers to influence and generate a transformation based on intercultural public policies. ”

Emmanuel Gentile

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