Indigenous Women Walk More Than 1000 Miles to Protect Mother Earth

The Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas por el Buen Vivir [Indigenous Women Movement for “Well-Being”] have been walking in the Southern Cone since March 14 to defend Mother Earth. Traveling north for 1200 kilometers (746 miles) and south for 1900 kilometers (1180 miles), women representing 36 indigenous nations in Argentina organized to walk across the country and meet in Buenos Aires by May 25, where they hope to be joined by thousands and demand and end to “terricidal” activities.

In a communiqué, one of the organizers Moira Millán, wrote: “We have coined this term [terricide] to synthesize all the ways in which the system kills: ecocide, femicide, genocide, epistemicide. All the ways of eliminating life on earth, is TERRICIDE, and is a crime only applicable to [institutions], companies and governments.” They have thus launched a call for international solidarity.

The provinces of Chubut and Río Negro have been the epicenter of several forest fires that have burned approximately 30,000 hectares and displaced hundreds of people. According to the environmental news agency Tierra Viva, the great biodiversity of the region was replaced by a rich monoculture agrobusiness of pine trees, which have contributed to the arid conditions and act literally as “ecomatches,” quickly dispersing forest fires. Mapuche people in the region also suffer from multiple pressures to cede their territories to mining, hydroelectric, and tourism development projects.

The La Elena hydro-power project, for example, aims to build 6 separate dams on the Carrenleufú River that would flood approximately 11,000 hectares, including ancestral Lof Mapuche Pillañ Mahuiza territories. The Mapuche people have been fighting this project since at least 2004.

“This ancestral territory has been threatened by the construction of hydroelectric dams on the #Carrenleufu river.”

Women leaders who organized themselves in Chubut to fight the forest fires believe these were intentional, according to interviews by Página 12, as they coincided with regions of resistance against mining projects. “If the mining company advances, as they have already done in some places, an ecocide would occur. We know and understand that this fire was intentional. It is time for non-Mapuche society to begin to wake up and understand the gravity of the issue at hand. This was planned, it cannot be that fires started in a very few days, in a few hours, in Golondrina, Radal, Epuyén, Cholila. A whole parallel of native forest that matches precisely mining maps exploration sites. That is why we say that this was intentional. What is happening is very serious,” said Vanesa Millañanco, a Mapuche with Pu Lof en Resistencia.

Making stops along the way to educate and mobilize, the Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas por el Buen Vivir seeks to highlight this and other environmental problems, and urges the people of the Southern Cone to stand in solidarity to defend Mapu and Mother Earth.


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