Declaration of Indigenous Communities in Chubut, Argentina


Editorial introduction by Luis Claps of Mines & Communities

Date of publication: 
20 May 2010

Despite open pit metal mining is banned in Chubut province since April 2003 by Law 5001 (passed by provincial legislative power following the Esquel referendum resulting in the cancellation of Meridian Gold proposed gold mine), the government have allowed exploration companies to find and develop mineral deposits which require this type of mining activities to be exploited.
At the end of last year Pan American Silver took over the Navidad silver-lead project from Aquiline Resources, showing that the industry is confident in overturning the provincial ban – and that the government has given strong signs in that direction.
The opening of the Navidad mine will push other projects to move forward: Patagonia Gold, Golden Peakes, and other companies are exploring in the meseta, and hundreds of hectares have been granted by the government as mining rights.
Travelling more than 400 Km. to get to Rawson, Mapuche-Tehuelche communities raised their voice for the first time in the capital of the province for the recognition fot their rights and against the development of large scale mining.]
We, Tehuelches Mapuche communities of the Central Plateau came to Rawson to make our claim to the governor Mario Das Neves, the highest authority of the Province, to our legislators and judiciary members, that our rights be recognized as native peoples of this Earth, to which we belong.
We demand that they respect and ensure our rights which are recognized in the National and Provincial Constitutions, and the ILO Convention 169.
We are here today, Tehuelche Mapuche communities of the central plateau, gathered together to make our voices heard.
Our rights to land and territory, to give us community ownership of the lands we traditionally occupy and other suitable and adequate lands for the development as a People.
Our right to participate and be consulted before any decisions that involve and can affect us are taken. We do not want to keep being the last ones to know, or be victims of decisions made by others over our territory.
For respect and recognition of our authorities and our forms of organization.
For the right to choose our own model of development. We want and have the right to continue to live as our ancestors have done for centuries and as we will continue to do so into the future. We live of and for the land, of which are a part.
WE REJECT the idea that mining is the only development alternative, because all these years we have lived without mining, we lived on animal husbandry, of our work, and if today we are poor, mining will make us poorer.
Open pit mining goes against our culture, against our worldview as Indigenous People, which is based on respect for Mother Earth, for our newen, our mountains, especially water, which are necessary for our survival.
Today we are not being respected, we are not being heard, the National Constitution is not being upheld, that is why we urge that concrete and effective responses to our demands are given to us. We are here to make ourselves heard, two hundred years have passed and the resistance of our People continues.
Communities: Laguna Fria y Chacay Oeste, Mallin de los Cual, Los Pinos, El Escorial, Taquetren, Blancuntre – Yala Laubat, Lagunita Salada – Cerro Bayo y Gorro Frigio, El Mirador, Sierras de Huancache, all of the central plateau of the province of Chubut.