Monday, February 19, 2007

Mapuche battle Benetton and Chilean government over land rights

Indigenous Mapuche peoples (image) in Argentina and Chile have fought over the past few years in order to regain that they claim is theirs. Last week, the Mapuche in Argentina tried to reclaim lands in the Patagonia region that have been legally owned by Italian clothing firm Benetton. Negotiations between the Mapuche and Benetton have had little success as a Spanish-language article in Upside Down World observed:

“The (November 2004) negotiations in Rome ended with Benetton publicly announcing the donation of ‘2500 productive hectares’ to the argentine government for distribution to the Mapuche. Yet the donation never occurred; the State rejected the land offered by Benetton because the land was useless.”

Acquisition of land by foreigners has become a hot topic in Argentina with critics calling one U.S. millionaire’s purchase of vast wetlands an attempt “to help the US military gain control of the country's natural resources”.

Meanwhile, nearly twenty members of the Mapuche were arrested after occupying part of the Chilean resort town of Lican Ray. Over fifty protestors claimed that the land is “sacred” and that the government had unlawfully claimed it without compensation.


Links- Upside Down World, Guardian UK, The Santiago Times, Wikipedia

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