The Invisible Colours of Benetton
Press Release - 10TH June 2004
Mapuche families evicted from ancestral lands by Benetton
Having formed a coalition with European and North American partner organisations, Mapuche International Link today launched a campaign denouncing the commercial activities of the clothing Corporation Benetton. Despite Benetton’s much hyped media campaigns, claiming to be a company committed to promoting the needs of the poor and dispossessed their treatment of the Mapuche is far from philanthropic. Scratch beneath the gloss of Benetton’s often beautiful & poignant media campaigns and you’ll find a company committed to putting profit before people.
Since Benetton’s arrival in Argentina there have been a significant number of Mapuche families evicted from their ancestral Land. The most recent eviction, this time of the Curinanco-Rua Nahualquir family, took place on the 31st May 2004.
Benetton’s land holdings in Argentina were acquired from The Southern Argentinian Land Company, whose right to the land title is historically disputed not only by the Mapuche and their lawyers, but also by a rapidly growing Argentinean popular consensus, who would like to see the company and others like it investigated and dissolved. Given the Mapuche claims to the land, Benetton is in direct contravention of the Codes of Conduct of the European Union (Resolution 15/11/99).
The land itself, approximately 2.2 million acres in the Patagonian provinces of Neuquen, Rio Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz was taken from the Mapuche during the violent Desert Campaigns of the late nineteenth century, at the hands of Argentinian colonialists; sold on to British owned Southern Argentinian Land Company; later to an Anonymous company and finally to Benetton.
Perpetuating the colonial practice of exploitation, Benetton are working to actively deny a people of their land and a community of their means of economic subsistence. However, Benetton’s spokesman, Alberto Mazzuchelli, said in response to the evictions of the Curinanco-Rua Nahualquir family, ‘National and local government will now have to address the housing problems of the Mapuche Community’. He added: ‘As a business, what we provide is jobs’. Surely Benetton’s actions in Mapuche territory make the people susceptible to the sort of exploitation that leads many of the worlds poorest into what Benetton so aptly describe in their Colours 53: Campaign as ‘Modern Slavery’.
Reynaldo Mariqueo, General Secretary of MIL says: “Benetton change their stance as a chameleon changes its colour. On the one hand they promote the notion of a world of multicultural and ethnic harmony as reflected in their ‘United Color’ slogan, presenting themselves as benefactors of the poor. In reality however, they let no obstacle stand in their way in order to get what they want. They are happy to take away the basic means of subsistence from members of indigenous communities – the most vulnerable and discriminated against people in the world”.
Mapuche International Link (MIL) is an organisation committed to promoting the cause of the Mapuche, who are the Indigenous People of southern Chile and Argentina. Based in Bristol, England, MIL works in partnership with other Mapuche Organisations around the world and with organisations that support the needs of the world’s indigenous and unrepresented people.
For further information refer to: http://www.mapuche-nation.org or
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