Indigenous Women in Argentina Resist Fracking

mapucheBy Derrick Broze

Six Mapuche women are resisting fracking operations in the Argentine Patagonia by chaining themselves to drilling rigs.

Indigenous women in the Campo Maripe community in the Argentine Patagonia are actively participating in the resistance to “extractivism” by using their bodies to protest fracking.

TeleSur reports that extractivism is “a type of economic model that is dependent on the large-scale removal (or ‘extraction’) and exportation of natural resources”. Whatever you call it, the process of stealing resources and land from native and indigenous populations has been ongoing for at least the last 500 years.

The Mapuche people are located in the Campo Maripe community in the Argentine province of Neuquen and is an abundant source of hydrocarbon. The area has been heavily affected by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it is commonly known. The controversial process has been linked to earthquakes and water contamination. The Mapuche and surrounding communities have been dealing with the effects of pollution from the oil industry for years.

“Chela is one of the six sisters in Campo Maripe, together with Josefa, Susana, Martha, Celmira, and Mabel. The only man in the family, Albino, is the lonko of the community, the origin of which is these seven siblings, and is made up of about 35 families,” Nancy Piñeiro Moreno,  an  Argentine researcher on the struggle of the Mapuche community Campo Maripe, writes for TeleSur.

Since the announcement of the U.S. Energy Information Administration in 2011⎯ according to which the Vaca Muerta formation is the most important unconventional hydrocarbon reservoir in Latin America ⎯ and up to the installation of the first fracking rigs in Campo Maripe in 2013, everything was streamlined to allow dispossession and attract foreign capital. A series of laws and decrees handed over the territory in a way that easily put a lie to the previous government’s discourse around “energy sovereignty.”

(Short video on Mapuche communities’ struggles over fracking on their territory in Vaca Muerta, Argentina)

“We women are nowadays more vulnerable to pollution-related diseases —at Lof Maripe, for example, 90 percent of women are sick, Maria told Nancy Moreno. “Most of them have cancer. There are bone problems, different problems, and the ones that are sickest are women.”

The presence of hydrocarbon has not fared well for the Mapuche and other indigenous communities. Their lands are being abused, and their bodies and minds are being poisoned. Multinational corporations and State powers are always quick to sell the land out from under the feet of indigenous communities. These communities have lived on the land and worked with the local environment for generations. Their very way of life is being threatened by the constant craving for the Earth’s resources.

“When we were a free people, the Mapuche woman had a leading role as the bearers of Mapuche knowledge; particularly, the role of teaching was handled by women. Today the role of women is becoming visible again after the invasion and imposition of another culture, of another education,” said María Piciñam, Coordinator of the Mapuche Education Center.  “We women have always been engaged in Mapuche politics, in times of freedom, in times of repression, and today; the only thing that changes is context. Today you can see more Mapuche women who are spokespeople, and there are a lot of women who are chiefs of their communities.”

Many freedom fighters in the West tend to forget that our indigenous brothers and sisters from around the world often suffer the worst, with resources stolen and the environment poisoned, often to keep the “First World” consumer fat and happy. If we are to create a truly free world we must respect the right of all individuals and communities to live autonomously, so long as they do not aggress upon any other free individual. This absolutely must include free people all over the world, including the First Nations.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter for and the founder of the Follow him on Twitter.

Derrick is available for interviews.

This article may be freely reposted in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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