Sunday, May 26, 2024

ARGENTINA | 05-05-2024 17:31

Milei government move to recover lands granted to Mapuche communities

Javier Milei’s government terminates 10-year agreement signed by Alberto Fernández administration that grants use of two hectares in south of Argentina to indigenous Mapuche communities.

President Javier Milei’s government is working on a plan to recover lands granted to Mapuche indigenous communities during the previous administration led by former president Alberto Fernández. 

According to reports in local media outlets, just over a week ago an agreement was scrapped whereby the state would provide land, recognise sacred land, build housing and stop evictions.

Official sources say the 2021 accord agreed by the Fernández administration was signed by the former National Parks head Federico Granato, Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla Corti, and the head of the Institute for Indigenous Matters, Alejandro Fabián Marmoni. 

In this context last Thursday the board of directors of the National Parks Administration met to terminate a gratuitous bailment contract signed in 2021 between the body and Fundación Arcángel San Miguel por Justicia, Igualdad y Solidaridad.

The agreement signed back then with the organisation granted the use of two hectares, belonging to Universidad del Sur, at the Nahuel Huapi National Park, in Bariloche, for 10 years. 

However, the Milei administration has decided to terminate the deal and ask for the lands back.

The premises cover two hectares within the Cerro Tronador circuit, and in this context the foundation was represented by Franco García Dellavalle, a cooperativist lawyer and activist within the Movimiento Popular la Dignidad close to social leader Juan Grabois, who was appointed National Director of Financial Inclusion at the Economy Ministry in 2023, two years after the contract was signed.

Shortly before the end of Fernández’s government, in late 2023, the INAI Institute of Indigenous Matters recognised multiple aboriginal communities nationwide. 

A total of 81 of the 118 resolutions were published after the results of the presidential run-off confirming Milei’s victory became known, said government sources.

During the Frente de Todos administration, 221 indigenous communities were formally recognised and a legal opinion or report was delivered with background, land registry information, property and ownership over the surveyed land.

Data were also delivered on the situation of the community, maps, a historical anthropological report and the government presented administrative or judicial strategies to press carry out their claims over the land.

In parallel, the National Parks became a plaintiff in eviction cases, which did not happen in other governments, and audits are also being conducted on the state of the premises and the value of tickets for nine of the 39 parks charging for entrance rose by 75 percent.


Ex-Monsanto executive for National Parks

Milei’s government has appointed Leonardo Sarquis as head of the Conservation Office of the National Parks Administration, according to local media. 

The appointment will be made official over the next few days via the Official Gazette, they said.

Sarquis is an active lobbyist for agro-business, operating between private consultancies and public positions, promoting and consolidating the ecocidal model of agroindustry.

Sarquis’s CV highlights a period as CEO of agro-business giant Monsanto.

The firm, which was bought out by German conglomerate Bayer in 2018, has a controversial history, especially in Argentina, where it has been accused of environmental damage caused through its technological package for use in agriculture, which includes the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) associated with agrotoxins, mainly glyphosate.

As the Agricultural minister for former Buenos Aires Province governor Maria Eugenia Vidal (2015-19), Sarquis conceived the so-called ‘Poison Resolution’ (Administrative Resolution 246/2018), which authorised fumigations with agrotoxins that were carried close close to housing, schools, rivers and lagoons, as well as natural reserves.



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