A Planeta / Photos: Denali DeGraf
Speech and afafán of a Mapuche comrade at the solidarity camp with Lof Quemquemtreu: archive.org/details/aud-20211004-wa-0011
Lof (community) Quemquemtreu proceeded to recover the land formerly belonging to the Mapuche family of Lucinda Quitupuray on 18 September 2021. The recovery was argued because the place was «uninhabited for more than 50 years and at the mercy of real estate, forestry and water interests».
Lucinda Quitupuray was found shot dead in her bed in 1999, and her son Victorino later. Thus, they got rid of the owner and heir of a piece of land of about 1,000 hectares. The land was then assigned by the Andean Forestry Service to a logging company owned by Rolando Rocco. This meant the cutting down the native forest to be replaced it with pine. Rocco is known for his unorthodox ways in which he has taken over territory in which he has extended his pine plantations and is also a known extractivist who promotes mining activity in the communities. Lucinda Quintupuray had already been subjected to pressure from the forestry lobby, which in a similar way managed to evict grandmother Odelina from the Pichún community. It is worth noting that 19 years later, both murders of Lucinda and Victorino have never been solved.
Rocco himself demanded the eviction on 24 September. Even though there was an agreement with another prosecutor, Arrien, to wait and not to use violence, prosecutor Betiana Cendón ignored it. Cendón ordered the eviction, which resulted in four arrests and excessive violence, including the use of rubber and lead bullets, and the assault of a minor who was thrown to the ground and kneed on his back. They also took belongings from the community.
The operation was maintained in the community, preventing anyone from entering. There were troops armed with long weapons, mounted police and a fire truck was also deployed. As part of the operation, the police also took over the Intercultural School 211, named after the murdered neighbour, Lucinda Quintupuray, to use it as their centre of operations.
The community also suffered two more police attacks that weekend. In response to this act of repression by the Río Negro police and demanding explanations from the public prosecutor’s office about the eviction, on the morning of the 25th, Mapuche activists blocked traffic at the intersection of National Route 40 and Provincial Route 6. Clashes broke out between the Mapuches and members of the police deployed in place, isolating the community.
Today, 5 October, it was announced that the governor of Río Negro, Arabela Carreras, had decided to send federal forces to support the police and the special COER force.
An activist who participated in the encampment in solidarity with Lof Quemquemtreu explained to A Planeta that the participants had to «endure the Patagonian frosts in the open». From the encampment they communicate with the besieged people of Lof Quemquemtreu exchanging the afafán or Mapuche cry, with which they confirm «that there are many people accompanying them with their presence».
In the encampment there were also exchanges of ideas, in which the conception that «the pine tree is a tool of power for the domination and destruction of the Mapu (Earth) is very clear. Each intervention coincided again and again with this sentiment».
On the 27th, a delegation made up of the Coordinadora Parlamento Mapuche, CODECI, the Consejo de Participación Indígena and APDH entered the community’s territory to check on the state of the people who were isolated. They were denied permission to bring in food and shelter. They also denied the proposal of a dialogue table. Between the prosecutor Betiana and Judge Calcagno, they passed the buck as to whose responsibility it was to allow entry into the territory without deciding it.
A wide network of political and social organisations have expressed their solidarity with Lof Quemquemtrew. As they reflected «once again, the state’s response to a territorial conflict with the Mapuche people is repression». The Observatory (OMCT-FIDH), the Indigenous Peoples and Torture Group of OMCT and the Argentine League for Human Rights (LADH) denounced the violence used in the eviction by the police. They also demanded respect for article 75 of the Argentinean Constitution, which, in its paragraph 17, ensures respect for community possession and ownership of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous peoples. As well as respect for Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation, which also recognises the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
As well as respect for Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation, which also recognises the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Union of Education Workers (UnTER) also repudiated the police takeover of the community, as well as of the Intercultural School 211 Lucinda Quintupuray, which has been used by the repressive forces as a base of operations.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of the Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ), Adolfo Perez Esquivel, as well as the coordinators of the same, Ana Almada, Cecilia Valerga and Elizabeth Quintero, also denounced to the Governor of Río Negro the humanitarian emergency created in Lof Quemtrew. Esquivel had already interceded in 2008 on behalf of the Quintupuray family in the claim for the lands of the murdered Lucinda Quintupuray.