A hearing into the territorial claim of an indigenous group took place on Wednesday in the Supreme Court. The long-standing land dispute has come to court after the provincial government usurped members of the Qom community in Formosa, northern Argentina, in 2010.
Community leader, Félix Díaz, represented the Qom people and their ownership claim to 609 acres of ancestral land. Public defender, Julián Langevín, asked that the court “recognise the rights of the Qom community,” while the Centre of Legal and Social Studies (CELS) asked the high court to end “abuses of the usurpers of the land.”
A minister from Formosa, the president of National Institute of Indigenous Issues (INAI), and the Rector of the University of Fermosa were also questioned.
The Qom indigenous group, La Primavera, is a tribe of around 5000 people from the impoverished province of Formosa. The community came into the public eye last year after a five-month encampment at the cross section of 9 de Julio and Av. De Mayo, and a seven-day hunger strike.
In the encampment they were demanding basic indigenous rights, after police brutally supressed a roadblock held by the Qom in Formosa. One member of the Qom community and one policeman died during the incident which was over an on going land dispute.
The clash started when the provincial government of Formosa had tried to evict the indigenous tribe in order to build a university on their land. The Qom put a roadblock in protest to the usurpation of land, lasting 4 months. After a judge ordered the tribe members to leave, despite their official right to the land, the police repressed the demonstrators by burning their temporary houses and belongings.
These acts of suppression motivated members of La Primavera to move their plight to the capital and set up the encampment. In May of last year, leader Félix Díaz finally met with officials from the Interior Ministry, the Secretary of Human Rights, and the president of the National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI). The meeting resulted in the construction of a ‘Table of Dialogue’.