Tag Archive | "indigenous"

The Indy Eye: The Awá: Earth’s Most Threatened Tribe


The Awá of Brazil’s eastern Amazon are considered by Survival International, a human rights organisation which campaigns for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples, to be the world’s most threatened tribe. Despite their land being demarcated in 2003, hundreds of members of the tribe have been killed, either by disease or by settlers, and only around 350 Awá remain, 100 of whom have no contact with the outside world.

However, in a victory for campaigners, last month a government operation began to evict illegal settlers, ranchers, and loggers from the land of the Awá. Soldiers, field workers from Brazil’s indigenous affairs department FUNAI, environment ministry special agents, and police officers were dispatched in the operation, that comes at a crucial time, as loggers are said to have been closing in on the tribe, and more than 30% of their forest has already been destroyed.

To find out more about the Awá, or to make a donation to help Survival International’s Awá campaign, please visit Survival’s Awá page.

 

Amerintxia is probably the oldest Awá. She lives on her own in a small palm shelter along with her many pets. She still gathers her own food in forest. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

Amerintxia is probably the oldest Awá. She lives on her own in a small palm shelter along with her many pets. She still gathers her own food in forest. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

 

Amererintxia sits with one of her pet monkeys in a hammock, which the Awá make from palm tree fibres. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

Amererintxia sits with one of her pet monkeys in a hammock, which the Awá make from palm tree fibres. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

 

The Awá have a very close relationship with animals, especially monkeys. Orphaned baby monkeys are adopted – Awá women care for them as pets, including suckling them. They are regarded as part of the family. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

The Awá have a very close relationship with animals, especially monkeys. Orphaned baby monkeys are adopted – Awá women care for them as pets, including suckling them. They are regarded as part of the family. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

 

The Awá live in extended family groups. Families go on gathering trips where everybody collect nuts and berries. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

The Awá live in extended family groups. Families go on gathering trips where everybody collects nuts and berries. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

 

A family take a break during a walk in the forest to collect açai fruits. Photo © Survival

A family take a break during a walk in the forest to collect açai fruits. Photo © Survival

 

From a young age all Awá learn how to hunt. They are extremely skilled marksmen. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

From a young age all Awá learn how to hunt. They are extremely skilled marksmen. Photo © Domenico Pugliese / Survival

 

A young man rests in the forest on a hunting expedition. Many  family groups go off on extended hunts lasting several weeks, where they sleep in palm leaf shelters in the forest and make torches out of tree resin. Photo © Survival

A young man rests in the forest on a hunting expedition. Many family groups go off on extended hunts lasting several weeks, where they sleep in palm leaf shelters in the forest and make torches out of tree resin. Photo © Survival

 

Loggers have penetrated deep into Awá territory, building a network of roads and taking out huge quantities of timber. Sawmills operate just 5kms from the border of the territory. Photo © Greenpeace / Bruno Kelly / Survival

Loggers have penetrated deep into Awá territory, building a network of roads and taking out huge quantities of timber. Sawmills operate just 5kms from the border of the territory. Photo © Greenpeace / Bruno Kelly / Survival

 

The charred remains of burned forest on Awá land, only kilometres from an Awá community. Photo © Survival

The charred remains of burned forest on Awá land, only kilometres from an Awá community. Photo © Survival

 

Takwarentxia with his pet monkey. He, his wife and baby son were contacted in 1992, far from the Awá territory. They were on the run, fleeing from gunmen who murdered some of their family group. Photo © Survival

Takwarentxia with his pet monkey. He, his wife, and baby son were contacted in 1992, far from the Awá territory. They were on the run, fleeing from gunmen who murdered some of their family group. Photo © Survival

 

Posted in Photoessay, TOP STORYComments (2)

Argentina News Roundup: 22nd January 2014


The bothrops Jararaca viper (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The bothrops Jararaca viper (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Warnings of viper attacks in Santa Fe: Sante Fe’s Ministry of Health today released an alert for the presence of snakes. In particular, the presence of bothrops jararaca, a venomous pit viper. A spokeswoman for the provincial health minstry said: “It is not that there are more vipers, but due to high temperatures, they are moving from their natural habitats to cooler spaces, and as a result we may come into more contact with them.” The symptoms of a bite are an intense pain in the area of the bite, bite marks, and swelling. If bitten, people should seek medical attention immediately. The warning comes less than a month after a over 70 people were injured after pomfret fish attacked bathers in the waters of Río Paraná in Rosario, the province’s largest city.

Territorial dispute leads to repression in Salta: Six members of the Las Pailas indigenous community have been released following their arrest for judicial disobedience, resistance, and material damage. On Monday, community members attempted to block a gate being built by local landowner Carlos Robles on a road they use frequently, in the latest escalation of a territorial dispute that has been waging since 2010. The community, based 16km from Cachi in the province of Salta, is legally recognised by the National Institute for Indigenous Affairs (INAI) and claim the land as their own. The territory is one of many being surveyed under Law 26.160, a national programme to survey indigenous community lands. More than 70 police officers from Salta were drafted in to remove the members and the situation turned violent, and the protestors were suppressed.  Local prosecutor Gabriela Gonzalez has called a meeting for tomorrow to try to find a peaceful solution to the situation, and has legally stopped all construction on the route until such a solution is found.

Maternal deaths due to abortion down by 55% in Buenos Aires Province: The number of women who died as a result of an abortions in the province of Buenos Aires have dropped by 55%, according to the figures released today. During 2011, 31 women died, a number that dropped to 14 during 2012, the last year that statistics were available. The fall was attributed to “increased sexual education” and improved access to contraception, said the provincial Health Minister, Alejandro Collina. The figures for women who died in childbirth were also down over 30%, to three women for every 10,000 births, the lowest figure since records began. Abortions remain illegal in Argentina except for in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Argentina, Round Ups ArgentinaComments (0)

Latin American News Roundup: 31st December 2013


The Tenharim tribe are located in Amazonas state in north-west Brazil

The Tenharim tribe are located in Amazonas state in north-west Brazil

Brazil: More than 150 Amazonian indigenous people have returned to their land, various days after having taken refuge in a nearby military base. The members of the Tenharim tribe left their lands on Christmas Day, after settlers from the nearby town of Humaita attacked their reserve in the state of Amazonas. Locals were seeking revenge for the tribe’s alleged involvement in the kidnapping of three government contractors in mid-December, in a supposed act of retaliation for the death of an indigenous leader. The tribe has denied involvement in the kidnappings. Hundreds of police have been sent to the indigenous reserve for the dual purpose of protecting the indigenous population and to search for the three disappeared men.

Colombia: A Colombian court yesterday sentenced Héctor Edisson Castro Corredor, a retired police lieutenant, to 40 years in prison for the killing of six people, in what was known as the Mondoñedo massacre. The dead were alleged members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The 1996 killings took place in and around the Colombian capital, Bogotá, and the prosecution argued that Castro Corredor was the leader of a group dedicated to fighting subversive groups, known as ‘Blanco Subersivo’. Three others were also imprisoned for the killings.

Mexico: The German newspaper Der Spiegel has revealed that the Mexican National Security Commission (CNS) was also a victim of NSA spying. The spying, called ‘Operation White Man’ (Operación Hombre Blanco), consisted of copying of data, such as IP addresses, email traffic and the electronic addresses of employees. Video surveillance was also part of the operation. This is the second revelation of NSA spying on Mexican territory, after it was revealed earlier this year that the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, was the victim of espionage when he was a presidential candidate in 2012.

El Salvador: The east of El Salvador is on alert after Volcano Chaparrastique started erupting on Sunday, leading to the evacuation of 2,000 people. Dozens of flights were suspended as a cloud of ash and gas covered part of the country’s airspace. Whilst so far no material damage has been recorded, further eruptions have not been ruled out, and the country is on yellow alert, with orange alert in the San Miguel department, where the 2,130m volcano is located.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Bolivia: National Literacy Programme to Include Indigenous Languages


Aymara women in Bolivia (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Aymara women in Bolivia (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday, the Bolivian Ministry of Education announced that new learning materials in six indigenous languages will be produced and used in the national literacy programme from 2014.

The current programme to boost literacy rates in Bolivia was introduced under Morales’ presidency in 2006 and has up until now been run solely in Spanish.

Noél Aguirre, Vice Minister of Alternative and Special Education stated: “We are going to enter a new stage of literacy… that will not be in Castilian Spanish, but now in native languages.”

Aguirre gave the information, signalling that community libraries will form the base for strengthening the educational process, especially among adults.

The Ministry is producing material to include languages such as Quechuan, Aymara, Guarani and Beciro, providing indigenous communities with the opportunity to improve literacy in their own languages.

According to Aguirre, this had been demanded by several communities, where locals had already learned to read and write in Spanish, and now wanted to do the same in their original language.

The programme of educational changes is set out to help those most vulnerable in society, including those with special needs. “We will put a lot of emphasis on working with the disabled and for this also we will elaborate teaching methods such as sign language and Braille.”

Finally, Aguirre added that the city of El Alto, positioned just above Bolivian capital La Paz has already put the programme in practice on an experimental basis.

Illiteracy rates in Bolivia stood at 5.02% at the time of the Housing and Population Census in 2012. This figure shows a rise from the 2008 figure of 3.77%.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Ecuador: Group Accused of Indigenous Massacre to Face Courts


Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa (photo by Miguel Ángel Romero/Ecuadorean presidency)

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa (photo by Miguel Ángel Romero/Ecuadorean presidency)

Members of the indigenous Huaorani ethnic group will face the Ecuadorian courts, accused of massacring indigenous people from the Taromenane ethnicity, according to president Rafael Correa.

An unknown number of Taromenanes were killed in April this year in a suspected attack by a group of Huaoranis who attacked the community in the province of Orellana in retaliation for the murder of an elderly Huaorani couple.

Two girls were kidnapped in the attack, one of which was rescued by police last week from the Huaorani jungle village of Yarentaro. A statement from the Interior Ministry said she had been “stolen from her cultural environment in April.”

Taromenane people live in isolation in the Yasuní National Park, while the Huaorani are integrated in Ecuadorian society.

Correa said that the girl’s sister, who had also been abducted, had not been rescued but confirmed she is living with Huaoranis who weren’t responsible for the attack in April.

During the rescue, six of 15 suspected perpetrators were arrested. Later a court in the province of Orellana ordered they be held in remand, accused of ”genocide against peoples in voluntary isolation.”

The crime came to light when photos of the attack were sent to the Ministry of Justice. Correa said the photos left no doubt that the attack had taken place.

“In the photos are bodies of a woman and a child who have been speared. There are pictures of the murderers, the kidnappers that took the girl… they themselves took the photos… it is unquestionable that it happened,” Correa said on the weekend.

“Nobody can be above the law. There has been an attack on unconnected and protected peoples,” Correa said.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, News Round Ups, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Mexico: Indigenous Leader Pardoned After 13 Years in Prison


Alberto Patishtán celebrates his release after 13 years behind bars. (Photo: Amistía Internacional México Facebook)

Alberto Patishtán celebrates his release after 13 years behind bars. (Photo: Amnistía Internacional México Facebook)

The Mexican government has released an indigenous professor and activist after being wrongfully imprisoned for 13 years. Alberto Patishtán had been sentenced to 60 years in prison for the murder of seven police officers in the El Bosque municipality in the southern state of Chiapas, the site of indigenous resistance to the federal government since the Zapatista uprising in 1994.

On Tuesday, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced on twitter that newly passed reforms to the Federal Penal Code granted him the ability to pardon the Tzotzil leader on the grounds that his conviction violated his human rights. Patishtán, at the time an elementary school teacher and indigenous worker’s activist, was arrested without a warrant and convicted after what many believe was a biased trial.

“They wanted to extinguish my struggle, but they have multiplied it,” Patishtán told supporters at a press conference upon his release on Thursday. “They wanted to hide it away, but now it’s shining for all to see.”

Patishtán’s case has attracted international attention from numerous civil liberties groups, including Amnesty International, which called for his release last month after a Federal Collegiate Court in Chiapas rejected a legal petition to free him.

According to Amnesty, Patishtán’s prolonged detention demonstrated that “in Mexico, indigenous or poor people continue to suffer the denial of their human rights, such as the right to live free from discrimination and the right to a fair trial.”

Amnesty International cited the lack of an impartial investigation into the “social context which could have motivated a false accusation by the municipal president,” the local leader who Pashtitán and other community members had called on to step down weeks prior to his accusation.

In recent weeks, Patishtán’s failing health had intensified calls for his exoneration. The former prisoner is suffering from a brain tumour and was transferred to Mexico City earlier this month to undergo radiation treatments.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, News Round Ups, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Paraguay: Development Funds for Indigenous Communities ‘Missing’


Sawhoyamaxa children in Chaco Boreal (Photo from Flickr)

Sawhoyamaxa children in Chaco Boreal (Photo: Patricia López, via Flickr)

Funds destined for poverty relief and developmental work in the impoverished communities of Yakye Axa and Sawhoyamaxa in Paraguay have gone missing, a government official revealed today. The disappearance of US$700,000 intended for food, medical goods, road and housing works has been blamed on Rubén Quesnel, former director of the National Institute of Indigenous People, who is wanted on suspicion of ‘abuse of power’.

In an interview today, Jorge Servín, director of the Public Office for Indigenous Affairs, alleged: “The money, as seen on the security camera film of the Banco de Fomento, was taken out by Rubén Quesnel, previous director of the National Institute of Indigenous People.”

“The stolen amount is probably not that significant as in other countries, but in Paraguay it is a lot of money, that is why it is considered a scandal, especially because the money was destined for indigenous people that live in very bad conditions,” Servín affirmed.

The inhabitants of the two communities in the arid area of Chaco Boreal, in western Paraguay, are of Exnet ethnicity. Over two decades, the Exnet people have been forced to live in extremely difficult conditions on the side of a trafficked road as a result of their ancestral lands being given to private entities, according to Amnesty International.

Oscar Ayala, the director of the non-governmental organisation Tierra Viva, which gives legal advice to the Exnet people, today said in an interview with the Associated Press that the money was meant to provide vital assistance to hundreds of people.

He also stated: “The state will have to replace this money. Both communities have been living on the edge of a road for 20 years. In the case of Yakye Axa, they have land but they cannot enter it to inhabit the forest areas because they have no roads; meanwhile, the Sawhoyamaxa people will continue to live on the side of the road waiting for Congress to approve the request of expropriation of 14,000 hectares, in the same area, currently in the hands of German citizen Heribert Roedel.”

In 2006, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Paraguay for the ill-treatment and violation of rights of the indigenous group and demanded they return the land taken from them.

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Colombia: 36 Indigenous Groups in Danger of Extinction


Awa Children (photo by Survival)

Awa Children (photo by Survival)

 

Internal armed conflicts threaten the existence of 36 indigenous communities in Colombia, according to the country’s Constitutional Court.

On Monday, the court declared 36 indigenous groups, 3% of the Colombian population, face physical and cultural extinction. Armed conflicts, drug trafficking, and the efforts of some foreign businesses to take possession of indigenous territories and natural resources have endangered the country’s indigenous groups.

Judge Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva indicated that 1.4 million indigenous people urgently require proper protection from the national government to survive.

“The grave situation of these indigenous communities remains extremely serious and jeopardises their physical and cultural survival,” said Judge Vargas.

Three out of the 36 groups facing extinction -the Awá, Emberá, and Senú- more than 400 people have been killed in around 300 acts of violence over the past 11 years.

In the case of the Awá, who live the area near the Colombia-Ecuador border, between January 2002 and July this year, 227 acts of violence led to the 344 indigenous deaths. Two hundred and forty-six were victims of homicide, 42 were killed by mines and unexploded munitions, and 56 died in massacres.

During the same period, the Emberá and Senú peoples, who live in the Department of Antioquia, had 72 acts of violence recorded against them, encompassing massacres, homicides, and explosions.

In the territories where these communities live, mining companies have applied for leases to undertake major projects- river channeling, building roads and hydroelectric plants- which will cover the majority of the land.

Indigenous groups denounced the actions of different groups for violating the rights of their communities. Further, they want to claim a role in consultations and negotiations concerning projects that affect their territories.

The minister for the economy Mauricio Cárdenas anticipated the government has invested close to $COL3tn (US$1.5bn) in the protection of these communities. He signalled that it was important that indigenous communities reach an agreement through consultation so that they “don’t put the brakes on important national projects.”

Posted in News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

Costa Rica: Indigenous Communities Reject Proposed US Army Incursion


United States Southern Command (courtesy of Wikipedia)

United States Southern Command (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Indigenous people and farmers from the canton of Talamanca rejected their mayor’s demand to allow incursions by the United States Southern Command within the Bribri Indigenous Territory.

In a letter to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, Talamanca’s mayor Melvin Cordero asked for the establishment of a “humanitarian air bridge” with the US organisation to facilitate access to the territory by institutions such as the Social Welfare Fund, the Ministry of Education, the Institute of Rural Development, the National Production Council, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the municipality.

Cordero stated that this request is intended as a means to provide essential services to the communities of Alto Telire. However, Bribri indigenous leader Leonardo Buitrago declared that this argument is questionable as there is no extreme poverty in Talamanca, the main reason quoted by the mayor.

According to Buitrago, this operation would put the population in danger and would facilitate the entry of military troops into indigenous territory without consulting the concerned communities.

Farmer Wilbert Gomez from Sixaola also considered that these proposed incursions are unjustified, stating that humanitarian missions could be carried out by the communities themselves along with the institutions in charge of protecting the population. “Military power is used to suppress the people, and to impose power over the people. But we love our sovereignty and freedom, and we believe that we ourselves have the ability to decide what we want.”

The US Southern Command, which aim is to protect US interests in Latin America -such as its access to the Panama Canal- is in charge of security, surveillance, and counter-narcotics operations in more than 31 countries. Its estimated number of soldiers is 24,000.

Posted in Current Affairs, News From Latin America, Round Ups Latin AmericaComments (0)

‘Our Rights Are Not Negotiable’ – An Interview With Félix Díaz


His name has got on everyone’s lips since he met the Pope in June and appeared on all media headlines. Tall, slim, with grizzled hair and a colourful headband and poncho, he attracts attention wherever he goes. He speaks slowly, thinking on every single word.

Félix Díaz and his wife Amanda Asijak (photo: Patricio Guillamón)

Félix Díaz and his wife Amanda Asijak (photo: Patricio Guillamón)

Félix Díaz, the leader of the Qom indigenous community La Primavera from the northern province of Formosa, identifies himself as a public figure who gained the space “through the indigenous struggle”. The La Primavera community is locked in a dispute over 600 hectares of land with the provincial government, which is planning to build a national university on that territory.

A few months after the legal struggle began in 2010, Félix Díaz was elected as qarashe, the leader and the voice of the community in the lawsuit with the local government. Formosa authorities have denied the legal authority of Díaz in many occasions, though he says he feels his duties are legitimate.

La Primavera and other Qom communities that inhabit the provinces of Formosa and Chaco have been subjected to brutal violenceincluding murders that were condemned nationwide – but the perpetrators have never been brought to justice. Due to the lack of response from government authorities, the Qom called on support from society and other indigenous groups. The latter recently joined forces and organised a congress at the beginning of June, electing Díaz as their leader and launching a series of vigils on Plaza de Mayo and activities across the country to draw attention to common grievances and demand an audience with the president.

After receiving no response from the president, Díaz, his wife Amanda Asijak, and Argentine Nobel Peace Prize Adolfo Perez Esquivel were invited to the Vatican to meet Pope Francis and talk about the current problems of indigenous communities in the country. Diáz’s visit to Rome was met with mixed reactions, including criticism from some indigenous groups, who accused him of looking for the Church’s support despite its role in the colonisation of the Americas.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled two resolutions on the territory lawsuit on 2nd July, moving the case forward in the Qom’s favour and setting concrete deadlines for the Formosa government to meet its obligations.

The Indy met Díaz and his wife in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires shortly after the last vigil in Plaza de Mayo. The conversation was held in the park nearby, a few hours before the couple’s departure to the community.

Tired from answering so many similar questions from mass media, Díaz said he was happy to be heading back to his community finally, though La Primavera wasn’t his only haven. The Qom qarashe highlighted recent achievements in the capital, including the vigils and the court’s decision, but noted that the relationship with the national government had not changed a lot.

Felix Diaz leads a press conference during a protest camp on 9 de Julio in 2011 (photo: Patricio Guillamón)

How do you see the progress on indigenous affairs after so many campaigns this year where you’ve been a protagonist?

The indigenous issue has been installed and our voices are getting stronger day by day. We were left without our basic rights and excluded from the society for being who we are. Basically, our struggle is devoted to something that always belonged to us and was taken away forcefully.

How has the relationship with the government changed? In his last interview with [state news agency] Télam, the national human rights secretary, Martín Fresneda, blamed you for the lack of dialogue with the government and said a lot had been done for indigenous communities. Why do you say the government has never supported you?

To me, there has always been dialogue, but with people who don’t make final decisions. We’ve met with many government officials but the key problems are still where they were at the beginning of our struggle. They meet us to show up later in mass media and to say that everything is resolved now. Others like to discuss secondary issues, but none of them are eager to tackle real problems like territorial issues.

Another example is our struggle to get our DNIs [National ID cards]. We were supposed to receive 300 new DNIs in 2011, but the [governor of Formosa Gildo] Insfrán administration blocked access of the vehicle to our community. We appealed to [Interior and Transport Minister Florencio] Randazzo, but he said it was an internal issue and didn’t do anything about it.

That’s why you asked for the meeting with the president at your first vigil on Plaza de Mayo in June?

Yes, we wrote an open letter to the president after the Congress of All Indigenous people in Formosa. We spent 24 hours in front of the Casa Rosada and delivered the letter to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. We received no answer from her, despite our repeated requests.

Our rights are not negotiable. We face challenges on basic access to health, education, land, and now even our identity. I am not surprised anymore; our 300 DNIs are stuck, because these DNIs represent 300 votes against this government.

A few years ago you worked for INADI (National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism). What did you achieve working in this institution and why did you quit?

I worked for nine months in INADI in the indigenous sector as the representative from Formosa. It was a great opportunity to have access to resources and tools to strengthen our struggle. I managed to raise awareness of the Indigenous Emergency Law among the people and educate them on their rights. Unfortunately, I realised soon it was impossible to work under the government’s conditions and had to quit to continue the true struggle. INADI and other governmental institutions have recruited many indigenous representatives who do nothing for the people, who do not represent us.

Félix Díaz meets Pope Francis (photo courtesy of Qom La Primavera)

Félix Díaz meets Pope Francis (photo courtesy of Qom La Primavera)

Why did you accept the Pope’s offer to visit him in the Vatican. How do you evaluate the visit?

Our relationship with Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) goes beyond the recent events. He used to visit La Primavera community and always expressed his support and the will to help. Our last meeting in the Vatican was very fruitful and we expect a positive outcome. Bergoglio has a great capacity to listen, and now he has a lot of authority to change things.

But again, this is a long process, and things do not change fast. The church has done a lot of harm to indigenous people in the past, but we should look at the future. I believe the best way for human beings to evolve is to listen and to respect other people.

How is the La Primavera community right now? How do people feel about all these issues?

Unfortunately, our people are still afraid of going out to the road (Ruta 86). Violent cases have become the norm and we are much weaker than our aggressors. After my son was brutally beaten at the beginning of the year, my family didn’t leave the house. My wife doesn’t have the same liberty as before for security reasons. And I am asking: ‘Where are Fresneda and Randazzo? Why don’t they condemn the violence against us?’

Your cooperation with other indigenous communities has grown a lot recently. How do you work together?

We initiated conversations back in 2006 and our alliance kept growing, winning more ground. We always organise leaders’ meetings called Tincunaco, where we evaluate our current state and make decisions. We bring proposals from our communities, where everyone can speak up and make suggestions and then bring the decisions back to communities. This is one of the reasons why I am going back to La Primavera now.

You don’t accept any support from political parties, nor the corporate sector. How do you sustain yourself financially?

We distanced ourselves from all political parties as we don’t want to be part of their campaigns. Many of them join our vigils and demonstrations; they take pictures with our people to win more votes. We welcome everyone, but as individuals and not representatives of the parties.

As for the financial resources, we receive a lot of support from the organisation called ‘Resistencia QOM’, which raises funds for our needs. People are really helpful here. I’ve come across a lot of human solidarity, though I acknowledge the great challenge of living in the big city. You need money to survive here, while in contrast the countryside gives you the natural resources every day.

So how do you see the future of the indigenous struggle now? Is it going to be easier?

I see the upcoming future as quite difficult. Many laws are being changed and we are not ready for these changes. The conflict between the president and the Supreme Court helped us a lot, but we should not let them fool us in the future. We are not ready to compete and participate in the government’s agenda related to our issues.

Meanwhile, technology and science challenge us even more, as they don’t consider humanity nature, which is one of our core values. We must still seek dialogue but not as beggars. I want to work for my own identity, and I want my children to stop suffering from all this violence.

On the last round of vigils on 3rd July indigenous leaders decided to move forward with the struggle and organise a big demonstration on 11th October and possibly earlier.

To read a Spanish version of this article, click here.

Posted in Human Rights, TOP STORYComments (2)

Follow us on Twitter
Visit us on Facebook
View us on YouTube

Five years on from the death of ex president Raúl Alfonsín, we look back at those emotional days in 2009 and reflect on the legacy left by 'the father of democracy'

    Directory Pick of the Week

Magdalena's Party in Palermo

Magdalena’s Party has daily 2 x 1 Happy Hour specials til midnight, and the "best onda".
Sign up to The Indy newsletter