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Argentina. Indigenous Peoples' Summit held in Buenos Aires. Members condemn violation of their rights.

Argentina. Indigenous Peoples' Summit held in Buenos Aires. Members condemn violation of their rights.

Latin American review, May 30th 2015. On Friday, representatives of traditional peoples that deliberated over three days, marched to the Plaza de Mayo to hand in the meeting’s final document to the Casa Rosada. They were accompanied by Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and Pablo Pimentel from PAHR.

Upon leaving Casa Rosada, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel declared: “This government does not want to see to our needs. This is a racist and discriminatory behavior. Today we travelled with Félix Díaz and Pablo Pimentel as representatives of traditional peoples and human rights organizations, to hand in a document signed by communities from 17 Argentine provinces since the Indigenous Peoples' Summit. The Government made us wait outside in the cold for four hours, and finally, would not even let us hand in the document at the front desk. They told me only I could come in, and I refused, arguing that the indigenous brothers must come with me. This discriminatory racism and lack of consultation incites the frequent institutional violence endured by these communities upon their territory.

Never again must a brother or sister be killed or harmed for defending their territory and Mother Earth!”


Declaration from the Indigenous Peoples’ Summit

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 27-29 2015


“We, the authorities of 25 indigenous communities from 17 of the country’s provinces, united at this Indigenous Peoples’ Summit, send a brotherly greeting to all indigenous sisters and brothers from this country, and from all over America. Similarly we embrace, as brothers, the Argentine nation, which, in majority, also suffers the consequences of an unsustainable economic model.

This economic model, known since the nineties as neoliberal capitalism, is today a globalized, western model. It has resulted in the unprecedented deepening of inequality and poverty, the violation of human rights, limitations of the judicial system, the exploitation and plundering of so-called “natural resources” (biodiversity for indigenous peoples) and consequently, the destruction of the environment, human health and cultural heritage. All the above constitutes against the balance and harmony of Mother Nature and living creatures on this planet.

We have come from our ancestral territories to declare that we continue to live as indigenous communities and cultures, and to live a life based on our values and principles to our next generations. We carry with us the memory of our ancestors that enables us to salvage their knowledge. Via memory we connect with the past, present and future, we know where we come from, who we are and where we are going. Thus we salvage our personal history, autonomous education, traditional medicine, customary law, language and ancestral orders passed on from generation to generation. Memory provides the basis of identity for a people having preserved itself for thousands of years.

We express that:

1) We are willing to continue fighting and affirming our rights and ancestral values, forbidding all violations of our peoples and rights, and protecting our lands and territories.

2) For decades we have tried to establish a consultation with the Government of Argentina to get them to respect our rights, recognized by International Public Law and embedded in the National Constitution, Provincial Constitutions and a diverse range of national and provincial laws; however, this request for consultation has not been met, while these same rights are undergoing serious violation.

3) Over the last 10 years, tens of sisters and brothers have been murdered by the police, tradesmen, mercenaries and landowners assaulting out territories. Over a thousand brothers and sisters are being prosecuted for defending both their territories and nature. There is repression, intimidation and a systematic plan to prosecute our resistance and the protest of those of us who defend life, our territory and Mother Earth.

4) The Government of Argentina continues to violate with total impunity, national laws and international agreements on indigenous rights, such as International Environmental Law, and the right to an active and healthy life. We request that the Argentine Government respect the following:

 The United Nations’ Declaration on Indigenous Rights;

 Convention 169 of the ILO;

 The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Affairs and their decisions and recommendations;

 The UN Indigenous Peoples Special Rapporteur;

 The UN advisory panel of indigenous experts and their recommendations;

 The Biodiversity Convention (especially articles 8j, 10c and related articles) and other international environment conventions;

 The Climate Change Convention;

 The RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands Preservation;

 Legal Instruments and jurisprudence of the OAS Inter-American Human Rights System;

 The American Human Rights Convention (art. 75, inc.22);

 The Argentine Constitution and Provincial Constitutions;

 Forestry Law;

 The Glacier Protection Law;

 General Environmental Law;

 All national and provincial Argentine laws and municipal regulations, respect for indigenous peoples and environmental conservation.

5) We believe that the way to solve problems is via consultation for all processes of political construction, lawsuits or national activities and respect for basic, internationally recognized democratic principles, in other words:

a) Consultation of indigenous peoples over any so-called development project out of respect for our frameworks, our own authorities and our timeframes;

b) Full and effective participation and respect for the process of reaching consensus;

c) Free and previously informed consent and the right to say “no” in the event of a disagreement.

6) Over these three days we have heard dramatic testimonies from sisters and brothers concerning the situation of injustice on our territory. We deliberate in order to unify criteria, find solutions and propose actions for matters which ought to be considered urgent, such as: human rights violations, the plundering of our territory, oil exploration and drilling and hydraulic fracturing, mining, deforestation, pollution, the soy farming industry, hydroelectric dams, the lack of medical attention and other critical matters.

7) In this section and in the spirit of our ancestors we would like to call upon the Argentine community to reflect upon the future and our next generations in order to construct together a fairer, equitable and plural society that may coexist in harmony with nature.

8) As traditional peoples, we wish to underline women’s role, not as mere conservationists and transmitters of traditional knowledge, but also as a leading role in the political construction of our communities in which the duality of gender and the multiplicity of generations form the basis of our worldview.

9) We are manifesting for the creation and enforcement of our own means of correspondence in order to guarantee identity protected communication.

10) The State must guarantee the right to autonomous and intercultural education.

11) We are manifesting for the creation of public policies alongside the full and effective participation of traditional peoples.

12) We highlight our concern for the protection of our genetic heritage under threat from industries that cause pollution such as nuclear radiation, biochemical engineering (eg. Monsanto) and biotechnology experiments such as the Human Genome Project.

We demand:

a) The repeal of the Anti-terrorist Law. A country that claims to defend human rights has enacted a law, in the current democracy, whose sole function is to repress social protesters and to penalize indigenous leaders that reclaim their rights in defence of their territory.

b) The dropping of all charges against trialled indigenous authorities, including the case of Relmu Ñamku of the Winkul Newen mapuche community in the Neuquén province, accused of attempted homicide for defending his territory. We demand that the Government request an urgent report on the situation.

c) We demand that President Cristina Fernandez attend urgently to the brothers from QOPIWINI who 104 days ago, camped out for the second time in the centre of Buenos Aires, denouncing the systematic violation of their rights. We demand political debate in order to draw up a work agenda and understanding that guarantees the application of existing rights.

Never again shall a brother or sister be killed or harmed for defending their territory and Mother Earth!

At this summit we are promoting a great movement to unite traditional peoples that may enable us to confront the reality we are enduring because whether or not we come from the North, South, East or West, we are all fighting to return to a state of freedom, including autonomy in our own territory, and the ability to exercise our fully-fledged right to self-determination”.

Source :

© - translated by Felix Charnley / original article

Date : 30/05/2015