Surprise announcement of Benetton

Diego, 09.11.2004

Benetton has decided to "donate" 2,500 hectares of land in Patagonia to the Mapuches

by Kolectivo Lientur - Tuesday November 09, 2004

The Italian tycoon will make available to Perez Esquivel 2,500 hectares of land apt for the production. The offer from Benetton takes place on the eve of the arrival to Rome of Perez Esquivel accompanied by a group of mapuches to demand the restitution to them of "ancestral lands" that the Italian industrialist bought at the beginning of the last decade. Although the announcement of Benetton constitutes an advance, leaders clarified that the yielded earth are not those that the group disputed last May before justice with Rose Rúa Nahuelquir and Atilio Curiñanco.

The Italian tycoon Luciano Benetton announced today that he will donate 2,500 hectares of land "of good quality" and located in neighborhoods of Esquel so that they are operated by mapuches communities. The ringleader of the Italian holding said that he will put the land to disposition of the Peace Nobel prize Adolph Perez Esquivel, who supported the mapuches in a conflict that a family had with Benneton in defense of their property on their ancestral land.

The announcement was known through an official bulletin spread in Buenos Aires and emitted from Italy, when the tycoon was traveling and Perez Esquivel, next to a group of mapuches was arriving to Rome with the hope of being received by the industralist. The cession of these 2,500 hectares - on a thousands total of 900 that it has the Italian group in the Puelmapu- was described by the spokesmen as Benetton like "a donation to the foundation" of the Nobel prize Perez Esquivel. It is a "specific and symbolic contribution, to the solution of the historical confrontation of the indigenous populations". The company/signature added in an official notice that the donation is made "in the occasion of the summit of Nobel prizes that will be inaugurated the day after tomorrow in Rome".

Benetton maintained that he is offering to Perez Esquivel "a productive patagónic land unit, of good quality, located in the neighborhoods of the city of Esquel". The objective is that Perez Esquivel, "like guarantor of recognized integrity and deep connoisseur of the patagónica situation, can destine it to the uses that consider opportune, in favor of the local indigenous populations".

With this gesture, Luciano Benetton, in agreement with the people in charge of the Company Territories of the Argentine South, that is under its control, responds to the Nobel prize, who in a letter written last July and a later encounter in September had requested him a gesture that had a gesture with the populations mapuche in Chubut, (argentinian province in Patagonia). "It is - affirms Benetton- a concrete and a symbolic act at the same time to contribute to the coexistence with the towns of the Patagonia, that comprises of our enterprise philosophy to invest, to work, to collaborate and to maintain projects with the objective of the development and the improvement of the economy and the employment".

Colors of the deceit

But not everything is color of roses. Although the announcement of Benetton constitutes an advance and a small triumph of the communities mapuche, is necessary to remark that the yielded lands are not those that the group disputed in last May before justice with Rose Rúa Nahuelquir and Atilio Curiñanco. In that occasion, justice confirmed the property of Benetton on the land but it rejected an order so that the family mapuche was jailed by the usurpation crime. This, in particular, would refer about lands located in other zones of Chubut.

On the other hand and through a public official notice, the Service of Peace and Justice, SERPAJ, organization linked to the Nobel prize, fixed its position according to the situation generated by Luciano Benetton.

"When the unequal judgment in the courts of Chubut happened, Adolph Perez Esquivel, president of our Foundation, wrote an open letter to Benetton. Immediately the industralist answered this letter and decided an encounter... From this moment arose the possibility of engaging in a dialog with mapuches and of arriving at an understanding... Nevertheless, now we were with an official press notice from the Benetton group, that not even Perez Esquivel knows, since he is at the moment in trip to Italy ", indicate.

"Nobody can put a guarantee on lands that always belonged to the mapuches, even less a Nobel prize of La Paz. As we are respectful of the self-determination, and our mapuche brothers traveled to Italy, they are the ones having decide on this offer. The true "symbolic act and of coexistence of the diversity of the Towns of the Patagonia", would be the one of an effective restitution and the respect to its self-determination like Town, and not a "donation ", finishing the official notice.

Long conflict

The Italian industralist remembers in his declaration that the Company Territories of the South was bought by Holding Editions (the financier of the Benetton) to three Argentine families "when it was in decay". The property, with more of a century of tradition and located about 2,000 kilometers to the south of Buenos Aires, is dedicated in a large extent to the raise of ewes and in it work more than 600 people. Litigation has been going on now for years, with diverse judicial failures in favor of Benetton and the demand from the mapuche communities of the restitution of the land, that they consider their own, since they have inhabited them since before the formation of the Argentine State.

It is possible to remember that next to Perez Esquivel members of the Curiñanco-Nahuelquir family travel now to Rome with the intention of meeting with Luciano Benetton for "opening a dialogue possibility" according to indicated Mauro Millán, spokesman of the organization mapuche-tehuelche "11 of October", of the province sureña of Chubut.

Source: Agency EFE, Argentina Indymedia.
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