Southern Cone
BsAs

Econo-protests sweep Argentina

Argentina has seen weeks of mass protests in response to a rapidly deepening economic crisis. Prices for basic goods are skyrocketing, leaving many struggling to make ends meet. The protest wave began on Argentina’s independence day, July 9, when thousands marched on the presidential palace. Dubbed the “Argentinazo,” the mobilization was held in Buenos Aires and cities across the country. Last week, center-left President Alberto Fernández named his second new economy minister in less than a month, as his own coalition has fractured over how to handle the burdensome national debt. The country avoided defaulting on an IMF loan in March, postponing scheduled payments in exchange for pledges of belt-tightening measures. These include a slash in energy subsidies that have helped keep utility bills low—imposing further hardship on the poor amid the spiralling inflation. (Photo: Pagína12)

Southern Cone
napalpi

Argentina: state liable for 1924 massacre

A federal judge in Argentina’s Chaco province ruled that the national state bears responsibility for the 1924 massacre of some 500 indigenous laborers in the region, and ordered that reparation measures be instated. On July 19, 1924, national police and vigilantes linked to the area’s landowners fired on a large group of indigenous protesters, who were marching over harsh conditions on the cotton plantations where they had been reduced to forced labor. The case was brought by Argentina’s Secretariat of Human Rights and the local Chaqueño Aboriginal Institute. The verdict was read in the indigenous languages Qom and Moqoit as well as Spanish. (Photo: Secretaría de Derechos Humanos)

Southern Cone
mapuche

Chile: Boric faces Mapuche challenge

Gabriel Boric, a young leftist lawmaker and former student protest leader from Punta Arenas, is celebrating his victory in Chile’s presidential run-off election. He was the candidate of a new coalition that came together to press for progressive reforms under Chile’s new constitution. The constitutional redrafting process was set in motion by incumbent President Sebastian Piñera in response to a wave of popular protest two years ago. But Boric will face an immediate challenge from the mounting armed resistance movement of the Mapuche indigenous people in Chile’s south. Following his victory, the group Lavkenche Mapuche Resistance issued a statement claiming responsibility for arson attacks on trucks and equipment of timber and mining operations on traditional indigenous lands. The statement said: “The struggle will not cease. Neither with Piñera nor with Boric.” (Photo via Twitter)

Southern Cone
guarani

Paraguay violates indigenous rights: UN committee

Paraguay’s failure to prevent toxic contamination of indigenous peoples’ traditional lands by commercial farming violates their rights and sense of “home,” the UN Human Rights Committee found in a landmark ruling. The Committee, made up of independent experts from across the world, monitors countries’ adherence to the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights. The decision on Paraguay marks the first time it has affirmed that for indigenous peoples, “home” must be understood in the context of their special relationship with their territories, including livestock, crops and way of life. (Photo: WHO via UN News)

Southern Cone
mapuche

Chile: new escalation in Mapuche country

A group of masked armed men calling themselves Mapuche Territory Resistance seized control of Malleco National Reserve in Chile’s La Araucanía region, occupying the administrative offices and releasing a video in which they declare their readiness to resist “any violent act on the part of the State.” The statement accused the Chilean Forestry Corporation (CONAF), which runs the reserve, of “usurpation” of traditional Mapuche lands and opening them to timber exploitation. President Sebastian Piñera responded by lodging a criminal complaint against the occupiers and demanding their eviction. (Photo via T13)

Oceania
rapanui

Inter-American panel to hear Rapa Nui land claim

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) agreed to hear a complaint against the state of Chile brought by the Rapa Nui indigenous people of Easter Island, demanding recovery of their ancestral lands. The complaint accuses Chile of numerous violations of the American Convention on Human Rights, citing Article 4 on the right to life, Article 12 on freedom of conscience and religion, Article 21 on property rights, and Article 25 on judicial protection. More than 70% of traditional Rapa Nui lands are now classified as “state lands,” from which the island’s indigenous inhabitants are effectively excluded—causing “irremediable damage” to their way of life and autonomy. The complaint charges that this constitutes a violation of the 1888 Acuerdo de Voluntades (Consent Agreement), under which the Rapa Nui accepted Chilean sovereignty. (Photo: DebatesIndigenas)

Southern Cone
Chubut

Argentina: anti-mining protesters chase off president

Protesters against a mining project pelted stones at the vehicle of Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández on a visit to southern Chubut province, forcing him to flee. The incident took place at the pueblo of Lago Puelo, in an area affected by devastating forest fires. Fernández was assailed as soon as he tried to step out of the car, with protesters chanting slogans against both him and the provincial governor. Fernández cut short his tour, and after escaping the confrontation was whisked from the area by Federal Police helicopter. The provincial legislature is considering a measure to allow Canadian firm Pan American Silver to move ahead with its $1 billion Navidad mining project, but the vote has been held up by protest mobilizations by local communities, under the slogan “No is no.” (Photo via Twitter)

Southern Cone
paraguay

March revolution in Paraguay?

Paraguay is witnessing an explosion of mass protest over government mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis. With hospitals overwhelmed and infections soaring, teachers refused orders for a mandatory return to classes. The following day, nurses, doctors, patients and their families demonstrated outside the main hospital in the capital Asunción to protest the lack of vaccines, protective equipment and basic medications. Finally, widespread protests escalated to clashes with the riot police, leaving one demonstrator dead and several injured. President Mario Abdo Benítez of the conservative Colorado Party offered dialogue and forced the resignation of several cabinet members, including the health minister. But protesters continue to mobilize, demanding the resignation of Abdo himself and his entire government, under the slogan !Que se vayan todos! (Throw them all out!) (Photo via Twitter)

Southern Cone
Chile

Chile: indigenous seats in constitutional convention

The Chilean Senate unanimously approved a bill to reserve 17 of its 155 seats for indigenous peoples in the country’s upcoming constitutional convention. The bill provides a fixed number of seats for representatives of designated indigenous communities in the country. The Mapuche, the largest indigenous group, are to have seven seats. Indigenous people constitute around 11.3% of Chile’s total population of 19 million, and their under-representation in politics has contributed to social and economic inequalities. However, despite demands, the Senate did not reserve seats for Afro-descendants, another under-represented group in Chilean society. (Photo: Pixabay via Jurist)

Southern Cone
santiago

Chileans vote to draft new constitution

Exactly one year after a mass demonstration brought more than a million people to the streets of Santiago to demand fundamental change amid a mass uprising, Chileans voted to scrap the Pinochet-era constitution. An overwhelming 80% voted for the drafting of a new constitution in the two-question referendum, with a similar proportion voting in favor of the new charter being drawn up by a body to be 100% elected by a popular vote rather than one made up by 50% of members of Congress. President Sebastian Piñera signed a law last year calling for the referendum in response to the protest movement then sweeping the country. (Photo: OHCHR via Noticias ONU)

Southern Cone
quilombo

Military Police evict land occupation in Brazil

Brazilian Military Police completed the eviction of a long-standing land occupation called Quilombo Campo Grande in Minas Gerais state, after a struggle of almost three days. Police brought in armored vehicles and fired tear-gas to clear the community from the land, before moving in to destroy homes and crops. Also demolished was the Eduardo Galeano Popular School, where children, youth and adults studied together. The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), whose followers established the squatter community on the abandoned lands of a bankrupt sugar mill 22 years ago, protested that the mass eviction leaves some 450 families homeless in the midst of a pandemic. (Photo: MST via Brasil de Fato)

Southern Cone
curacautin

Chile: Mapuche mobilize after racist mob attacks

Chile’s Mapuche indigenous people are holding emergency community meetings in their territory to discuss how to respond to a wave of racist attacks. The most serious incident occurred in Curacautín, Araucanía region, where a group of Mapuche protesters were holding an occupation of the municipal building. The protest had been called in solidarity with Celestino Córdova, a Mapuche leader imprisoned in relation to a conflict over land rights, and now on hunger strike to demand his freedom. The protesters were set upon by a mob, who ejected them from the municipal building before beating them in the street and setting several of their vehicles on fire. The attackers used racist slurs and slogans such as “¡Querían terrorismo, acá tienen terrorismo!” (You wanted terrorism, now you have terrorism!). The Carabineros looked on but did not interfere, only acting afterwards to remove remnant protesters from the building. (Photo: Resumen, Concepción)