17/11/07: Communiqué of the Santa Rosa - Leleque Community
So, we returned to Santa Rosa, Leleque, decided to live together with our Mapu (earth), and build our hut, grow up our vegetable gardens, raise fowls, plant fruit trees so we could live in dignity. We left behind our life in the city, which deprived us from work and food, as well as from opportunities to develop ourselves and our children.
Winter was over, and two months after our arrival, our plants started to grow. Our work bore good fruit, but at the same time we had to face the response from the political and economic power of the BENNETON Empire, which all of a sudden claimed the ownership of the Santa Rosa land, a formally government and long time Mapuche territory and submitted us to “justice” instances, accusing us of being illegal usurpers.
The response by the Argentinean government was violent, excessive and absurd. There was not a single sign of respect towards those of us who had decided to return to the Earth and live there with respect, working the land so we could feed ourselves with its fruits. The Province Police destroyed everything that we had accomplished through enormous effort and dedication.
The BENNETON Empire, headed by Mr. Luciano BENNETON, never submitted any document whatsoever to prove its ownership of the Santa Rosa land. On the contrary, we had to submit ourselves historical and anthropological proof, among others, on our territorial rights as members of a Native Community, all of which we had to do with our scarce resources and economic means, but, needless to say, with the support by numerous members of Native Communities and by the “Huinca” (non native) Society in general.
However, the first trial resolution on the possession –not on the ownership- of the Santa Rosa land that was signed by the Judge Jorge EYO, disclaimed our reality as a Native Community that demands its own Territory, and acknowledged the so-called rights alleged by BENNETON on the Santa Rosa land. We know that the BENNETON Empire has, only in the Argentinean Patagonia, more than one million hectares; we therefore don’t understand why it is also striving after the 535 hectares that we claim as our Territory.
Lots of things have happened ever since. Among those things, there was our trip to Italy to hold a meeting with Mr. Luciano BENNETON in order to find a solution to this conflict. During that meeting, Luciano BENNETON GAVE US HIS WORD (to us, to our sponsor lawyer, to the Nobel Prize winner Adolfo PÉREZ ESQUIVEL, to the Mayor of Rome) that the problem would be solved. This happened in 2004. We have been waiting for three years and there has been no response whatsoever. We then discovered how worthless a promise can be to fellows such as Luciano BENNETON.
Therefore, in February 14, 2007 we decided to return to Santa Rosa and keep on with the work that we started in 2002. The Mapu (earth) sheltered its sons again, with a total respect, with fullness and harmony.
But once again, BENNETON’s voracity would interpose between us and our legitimate ancestral rights.
We were punitively sued, but this lawsuit was obviously dismissed by the Fiscal Public Ministry.
BENNETON intended –and succeeded- to “treacherously” designate the judge who would intervene in the civil cause, imprudently avoiding the constitutional principle of a “Natural Judge”.
Moreover, BENNETON requested the Judicial instances to stop us from finishing the building of our houses, or having animals, or use the land to provide us with food for ourselves, and they even asked the authorities to prevent us from making fires, regardless of the extreme temperatures that we were starting to bear. These people acted more inhumanly than words can describe.
Argentinean Judicial instances are well aware of national and international rules, mainly the National Constitution and Agreement Nº 169 of the International Labor Organization (which has been supra legally current since the year 2001). Based upon such rules, we submitted our permanent claim to be acknowledged as part of the Mapuche People (we have already been acknowledged as a Community in “Trawun” –mapuche meeting-), with a right to possess our own Territory. Up until today, the Judicial instances inexplicably refuse –pushed by the BENNETON Empire- to do such thing, and by doing so, they condemn us to eternally and unfairly suffer, regardless of the clearness of the constitutional text and that of Agreement Nº 169. The latter states that a Community must be self-acknowledged, that is, that we must identify ourselves as members of such a Community, as well as having a “hetero-acknowledgement”, that is, that our peers of the Mapuche People acknowledge us as a Community. Both situations were thoroughly proved before the judicial authorities, but the State ignores us and obliges us to unnecessarily go to and fro through senseless bureaucratic rough paths.
Now, in an effort to weaken us, the BENNETON Empire intends TO DEPRIVE US FROM THE BENEFIT OF AN EXPENSES FREE LITIGATION. In other words, BECAUSE OF THE FACT OF BEING POOR, WE ARE BEING DENIED ACCESS TO A FAIR JUSTICE MANAGEMENT. They wrongly believe that by practicing the “Injustice” they will succeed in weakening us, so they can defeat us.
Because of these ostentatious, almost coarse facts, we, the members of the Mapuche Native People, who have the willingness to live and coexist peacefully with the Huinca Society (non Mapuche society), with its laws and so-called justice mechanisms, asks ourselves and ask you: WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE “JUSTICE”? WHAT’S ON MR. BENNETON’S MIND?
We are completely aware of the fact that their huge interests are openly opposed to the spirit of our own ideas, to our Cosmo vision, to a more dignified life, one which is harmonic with Nature and with our peers.
By telling you about our experience, we want to share with you the hardship we have had to endure, and at the same time, we want to share with you the following questions so we can think about them together:
- WHO IS BEHAVING PROPERLY?
- WHO IS ACTING WITH “JUSTICE”?
- IS THERE A REAL JUSTICE ON THESE FACTS?
- DID WE HAVE ANOTHER CHOICE THAN GOING BACK TO SANTA ROSA, AND REBUILD WITH A LOT OF EFFORT EVERYTHING THAT MR. BENNETON CONTRIBUTED TO DESTROY?
We will highly appreciate your providing us with your answers to these questions. But even without such answers, we are pretty sure that what we restarted nine months ago was the right thing to do. This is how we feel deep inside ourselves. It was the time for doing something for the Earth, not the time for paperwork and false words that are taken away by the wind.
This is the time to summon you, whether you are members of native communities or not, to join us in this new recuperation, from wherever each of you are located, and by whatever means you can afford. YOUR ACTIVE PARTICIPATION WILL BE VITAL TO AVOID A NEW BARBARITY.
Mapuche Community of Santa Rosa-Leleque,
From our acient Territory in Leleque, Chubut’s Province
November 17, 2007.-