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Violence against native peoples in Argentina

The disappearance of the Mapuche defender Santiago Maldonado, which occurred in early August in Argentina, has produced a wave of rejection from the nation towards the police authorities, because of the outrage against the native communities.

Likewise, the arrest of the Mapuche leader Facundo Jones Huala adds to the outrages suffered by the Argentinean indigenous community at present.

Abuses and human rights violations against the communities

In Argentina, one of the main problems of the native communities lies in the police abuses to which they are subjected, due to the little respect that exists over this sector of the population and the concession of land.

The main abuses suffered by these communities are the expulsion of these groups from the territories that originally belonged to them. Despite being protected by the law and the existence of numerous laws that favour them, the judicial bodies and the high authorities do not ensure compliance with them.

On 26 June, the Colalao Indian Community of Tucumán suffered a violent eviction of 16 families. In spite of the validity of National Law 26160 (which declares an emergency in terms of possession and ownership of indigenous lands, and therefore stops evictions of this kind), dozens of police officers advanced against the community. The operation was endorsed by the prosecutor Adriana Cuello Reinoso and judge Eudoro Albo.

The Mapuche community has been the main victim, on repeated occasions, of violent repression by the Gendarmerie and Police.

On the other hand, the lack of attention and the little importance given to these communities has caused facts that are lamented by the native groups.

Between December 16, 2016 and January 7, the Wichí community reported that 26 people died in 23 days in Santa Victoria Este, in the northern region of Salta. All were due to preventable causes and lack of basic health care.

“We do not forget that between December 16 and December 31, 16 people died in Santa Victoria Este. And as of January 7, 10 more died, adding up to 26. This death is a profound pain that remains in our communities,” lamented Wichí leader Pedro Lozano.

Complaints from organizations

Numerous organizations have denounced the abuses suffered by indigenous peoples, as well as the xenophobic and racist actions to which they are subjected, mainly because of the problem of land ownership.

“There is a very rich universe of communities, although not all of them are native to the province, that have been demanding land and better living conditions,” said Human Rights Secretary Santiago Cantón.

In addition, the official stressed that international law recognizes that some of the land they claim in many cases belongs to them.

“It was recognized in 2001 by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and has been complied with by some countries. So any activity on those lands, the State must consult them beforehand because they are the owners of the land. There, a legal solution has been found to a historic claim that is 500 years old,” said Cantón.

For her part, the executive secretary of the Provincial Council of Indigenous Affairs in the Secretariat of Human Rights, Mishkila Rojas, has defended the existence of a “historical debt”, which is access to land, but they are also working on other issues such as boosting the economy of these peoples or the role of indigenous women.

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