Clash between officers and Mapuche nation leads to Cabinet resignation in Argentina
October 10, 2022
Last week, “tensions escalated between Argentine forces and the Indigenous Mapuche community as tactical teams and anti-riot units sent after the Lafken Winkul Mapu community occupied areas of Villa Mascardi,” we wrote in last Thursday’s LADB. According to Infobae, seven women, including one pregnant woman, were detained during the operation, which aimed to evict the Mapuche community from public and private lands in the southern province of Rio Negro. Four of the detained women are currently being held in a prison in Buenos Aires province, but it is unclear if they have been formally charged. Government spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti claimed that the operation “was done in compliance with all protocols and without the use of lethal weapons,” and that “there was no violation of the rights of the people there,” according to Reuters. Aníbal Fernández, the country’s Security Minister, also claimed that “there was no repression” conducted against the Mapuches during the operation, reports MercoPress.
The conflict led Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, Minister for Women, Genders, and Diversity, to resign in protest on Friday, writing that the police’s actions “are incompatible with the values I defend as a political project,” reports CNN. Gomez was the first to lead the country’s Ministry of Women, Genders, and Diversity, created in 2019 following Alberto Fernández’s inauguration. President Fernández is expected to name her replacement today, in addition to replacements for two other cabinet positions, following the resignations of the Labor and Social Development Ministers on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.
The Mapuche nation “once spanned large swathes of territory in the Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia region,” writes CNN. Over the years, though, clashes with cattle ranchers and shepherds, as well as law enforcement and land grabbers, have caused a decline in the community’s numbers and territories. As Infobae notes, the past years have seen an increase in Indigenous communities pushing to reclaim the land they see as rightfully theirs, creating tensions and occasionally confrontations and violence with local and national authorities.
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