Neuquén: Mapuche Community Blocks Access to Shale Oil Field

by Indy Staff, 10 October 2014.

Mapuche community Campo Maripe blocked all three accesses to the Loma Campana oil field, part of the Vaca Muerta formation operated by YPF. They have put forward a series of demands that they consider “basic” to “guarantee Mapuche life”.

The protesters, backed by the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén, arrived at Loma Campana yesterday morning. In the afternoon, a number of them chained themselves to a tower within the site. Prosecutor Marcelo Jara issued an order for the demonstrators to vacate the site, threatening to have them evicted otherwise. However, shortly afterwards a “negotiation channel” was opened between the national government and the protesters, and the police left the area, according to the local press.

The Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén issued a statement specifying the demands put forward by the Campo Maripe community. They demand that authorities legalise the situation of their communal lands, legally recognise the community, and consult them before the implementation of any project to be carried out on their lands.

“The lands we used yesterday to raise our animals or support our farms, have today been destroyed. Dozens of new tracks and paths are opened everyday, all kinds of machines circulate by the hundreds, wells drilled in record time have transformed our community landscape, spills and explosions have occurred over and over in the last few weeks, many of them concealed by YPF and the Environment Secretariat of Neuquén, terrible cases of workers dead by lack of safety and controls by the relevant authorities, it is all part of a reality that has transformed our life,” said the Mapuche Confederation in a statement.

The ongoing conflict between the Campo Maripe community and local and national authorities for recognition of their legal status and rights over their lands began early last year, before the agreement with Chevron for the exploitation of Vaca Muerta was signed.

YPF issued a statement saying that the company “has contacted the protesters to warn them about the risks for them, for YPF personnel, and for the community in general, of approaching production areas without the minimum security measures in place.” The statement added that “the protest is external to the company and is related to the recognition of legal status that the Campo family has requested provincial authorities.”

Jorge Nahuel, a Mapuche werken (traditional leader), stated that the protesters “will remain there through the long weekend if the provincial and national authorities do not take responsibility and give an answer to our demands.”

Loma Campana is a non-conventional (shale) oil field, part of the Vaca Muerta formation, and the second largest oil production site in the country, after Cerro Dragón in Chubut.

Source: The Argentina Independent

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