On June 2, 2009, the next stage began in the ongoing civil trial to determine possession of the Santa Rosa estate. Throughout June and into July, a handful of witnesses provided testimony regarding the Santa Rosa estate and its traditional use by the Mapuche people, as well as the land reclamations carried out by the Santa Rosa community.
The hearings were attended by Edgardo Manosalva, the attorney representing Santa Rosa; Martín Iturburu, the attorney representing the Benetton-owned Compañía de Tierras de Sud Argentino (CTSA); Rosa Rua Nahuelquir, representative of the Santa Rosa community; and, in some instances, a member of the media. Testimonies were heard and recorded by a judicial secretary at the courthouse in Esquel.
University College of London
I first went to the hut of Rosa and Atilio of the Mapuche Santa Rosa community, Chubut Province, Patagonia, at 8am on a cold morning. The hut is set next to a wooden bridge over a babbling brook, in a valley surrounded by high peaked, snow-clad mountains. When I knocked on the wooden gate, I was nervous to see huge brightly colored placards declaring the struggle that the Santa Rosa Mapuche community were waging against Benetton to reclaim their land. Yet, after shouting ´hola´ several times, Rosa came out briskly, followed by a trail of chickens, to see who was calling. I followed her inside the hut, to a warmly lit hearth. Thus, began my journey to engage and understand more about the Mapuche and their struggle to reclaim the land of Santa Rosa, from the large multinational Benetton, who had bought much of the land, and who is heavily supported by the Argentinean government.
By Francesca Fiorentini
Source The argentimes.com
“We want simple things,” Atilio Curiñanco of the Santa Rosa community says to me through a crackling connection. “Most people don’t understand that.”
It is 11th February, and in three days the families of the community of Santa Rosa will mark the two-year anniversary of their reclamation of their ancestral territory.
25/02/09: Visible Land, Invisible People
By Thato Motaung
Mapuche means “people of the land”. They constitute the third largest indigenous group of people in South America and occupy ten million hectares of land in both Chile and Argentina. However, the relentless confiscation of their territory by military insurgents and transnational corporations has left them landless; and with no land, there is no Mapuche.
The multinational company Benetton filed a “promissory restitution” claim in the Esquel justice system at the beginning of March for the 565 hectares recovered by the Santa Rosa Leleque Community, believing “irreparable damage” to have been made to the site.
At the request of the Mapuche and their lawyers, the examining magistrate, Omar Magallanes, made an onsite visual inspection on the morning of Friday 9th May for the purposes of verifying these claims. The following day, in Cuesta del Ternero (Rio Negro), Rosa Nahuelquir and Atilio Curinanco gave details of the judge’s visit and the continuing attempts by Benetton to evict them. They also displayed support for the Mapuche Quintupuray Community in their legitimate struggle demanding recovery of the land belonging to them.
Next Next Friday, the 9th of May, at ten in the morning, Dr. Omar Magallanes, one of the judges from the court departments of Esquel, will undertake an inspection of the land recovered by the Mapuches- the community Santa Rosa-Leleque.
The afore mentioned inspection is in response to a petition made by the community themselves in retalliation to the charges made by the judge stating that, ‘Irreperable damages were made to the disputed land’ following a deunciation made in March this year by the Benetton group.
In this opportunity, the company claims that the rules laid down before in March 2007 by Judge Magallanes have not been upheld. The community were prohibited from making any modifications or changes to the land, and they have not adhered to this, therefore they are requesting that the land be restored to them until the issue has been resolved.
On March 4th, Benetton’s Company Tierras del Sud instructed its lawyers to submit before legal instances a petition for the provisionary restitution of 565 hectares which had previously been recovered on February 14th, 2007 by the Mapuche community of Santa Rosa de Leleque.
In doing so, Benetton demands Judge Magallanes to remain in possession of the disputed area until the lawsuit is finally settled on behalf of any of the involved parties.
The company is now claiming that the provisional remedy that was decreed on March of 2007 has not been executed by Judge Magallanes; such provisional remedy required the community to avoid making any modification to the present state of the “property”.
"This is the path our Mother Earth has chosen for us..."
The aforementioned land has been the subject of conflict since 2002 when the Curñanco-Nahuelquir family reclaimed 550 hectares. Months later the family was evicted from the land after an official complaint was made by the legal representatives of Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino SA (CTSA), owned by multimillionaire, Luciano Benetton.
With the passage of time, the estate became a symbol of the struggle to reclaim both the land and the identity of the Mapuche people.
This Thursday the Santa Rosa community will celebrate its first year anniversary together since reclaiming land from Benetton. Ancestral ceremonies will be performed as well as visits from three neighbouring indigenous communities, but an eviction order is also expected.
They were no more than thirty people. Those that were the most confident, as they did not want the police to get wind of what they were doing. They departed early in the morning, a determined group of old trucks and cars. The objective, to recover 534 hectares of land that the largest landowner in Argentina guarded with suspicion. With nothing more than tools to work the earth, materials to build a house and food to last a few days they set off on their journey.
Around 500 hundred people marched around the streets of El Bolsón yesterday, in a demonstration against the repression of the Mapuche people at the hands of the Chilean and Argentine governments.
The demonstration, that started by the streets of St Martín and the Mapuche village, was aimed especially at the governor of Chile, in response to her actions concerning the assassination of Matías Catrileo Quezada, which happened on the 3rd January .
Critics of governor Michelle Bachet also highlighted the case of Patricia Troncoso Robles-the incarcerated Mapuche militant- who after being on hunger strike for the past 100 days is severely unwell.