Mendoza votes Mapuches aren’t “Indigenous people of Argentina”

The resolution sparked accusations of denialism and racial hatred

Mendoza provincial legislature on Wednesday evening passed a resolution stating that the Mapuche people “should not be considered Argentine Indigenous peoples”.

The text of the document reads: “On the basis of scientific, historical, anthropological contributions made at the time of [the resolution’s] treatment in a commission by specialists in the Indigenous issue, that Mapuches should not be considered Indigenous people of Argentina in the terms of […] the National Constitution and International Treaties.”

The resolution also expressed the legislature’s rejection of a decree extending a ban on evicting Indigenous communities, and accused the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI) of leaving Mendoza province and other interested parties out of its procedures.

It was issued in the wake of INAI decrees earlier this year recognizing three Mapuche communities in Mendoza as traditional inhabitants of their lands.

The resolution was approved with 30 votes for and eight votes against. There were six abstentions and four absences.

“Mapuches are not Indigenous to the province of Mendoza, they are native to the Chilean Araucanía [region], ” said provincial deputy Gustavo Cairo of the right-wing Republican Proposal (PRO) party during the session.

Provincial deputy Evelín Pérez of the centrist Radical Civic Union party said that “the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples must be a process of healing that brings us together, not that brings us to violate social processes, generate differences and upset social peace.”

However, provincial deputy Laura Chazarreta of the Peronist Justicialist Party described it as a move “to annul the identity of people, of Mendozans” and “a step backward in Indigenous rights in Argentina”, calling it “racist, denialist and anti-constitutional.” She voted against the resolution.

“We know this will be rejected by jurisprudence and by actions in international organisms because it doesn’t comply with the national constitution or with international conventions,” said Gabriel Jofre, werken (traditional Mapuche authority) of the Territorial Identity Organization Malalweche in Mendoza.

Jofre highlighted that there have been a series of long-running land rights conflicts between mining companies and Mapuche communities in resource-rich Mendoza province, which borders Chile, in recent years. 

He said the resolution did not have immediate consequences for legislation affecting Mapuches in Mendoza. 

He hopes that the resolution will ultimately be overturned.

Law 26.160, passed in 2006, declared an indigenous land rights emergency and made it illegal for Indigenous peoples to be pushed off their land for four years. It ordered the INAI to carry out a land survey of Indigenous communities to guarantee their land titles.
However, the process has fallen many years behind schedule, with only 43% of communities surveyed to date, and the law has repeatedly been extended by decree. Amnesty International highlighted in an annual report this week that communities continue to be illegally evicted despite the measure.


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