Public Statement

To the Mapuche Tehuelche People and the general population 

We, the undersigned Mapuche Tehuelche communities of the central northern “Meseta” region of Chubut, once again express our profound rejection of mega-mining. Specifically, we reject the Navidad Project, in the hands of Pan American Silver, for the following reasons: 

Mega-mining destroys elements of the natural world, of our territory, of the ñuke mapu [mother earth], of the itrofil mongen, which are essential for our social, cultural and spiritual life –things that we have been struggling hard to reinvindicate and recover, despite facing genocide, racism and colonialism that has been inflicted upon our Peoples. 

Mining is being imposed in our ancestral territories, without recognizing nor respecting our rights, backed  by and made explicit in the Argentine Constitution and in different international treaties. 

The State has never respected our right to Free, Prior and Informed consent, as established by the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169  (Art. 6 and 15). This has paved the way for companies to come in and operate in our communities, causing harm in a multitude of ways against our lands and our cultural and spiritual ways of being. 

The mining exploration activities of the Navidad Project, in the area of the Sacanana River, have involved drilling dozens of holes and consuming water from the same aquifer, and have led to the contamination of the river system due to the use of drilling fluids. These activities  also destroyed the land, dramatically reduced the flow of the water to nearby fields, and obliterated the native flora in the area. 

The Navidad Project has caused one of the most serious violations to our rights as Original Peoples: the desecration of a chenque (an ancestral burial ground) from the zone where exploration activities were taking place, and its relocation  to the nearby community of Biancuntre. They did this without consulting all of the affected communities. The provincial government of Chubut, through the Ministry of Culture and the Cenpat (the National Centre of Patagonia), was clearly complicit in this violation, fraudulently getting three communities to “authorize” the removal of this burial site — authorization which was not valid nor representative. 

At present, in the area where the chenque was located, an overhang remains with cave paintings and distinct rock workings (arrows, tools, etc.)

The companies who have owned the Navidad Project (IMA Exploration, Aquiline Resources, and now, Pan American Silver) and their exploration activities carried out in the area of the Meseta, are incompatible with our internationally-recognized rights. In particular, they have: interacted directly with individuals of the communities and bypassed community organizing structures; negotiated in isolation and behind closed doors with communities; offered gifts and personal benefits; offered money for development works; and offered jobs for men in the communities. 

The companies have contracted, on repeated occasions, teams of professionals (sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists) to collect information and connect with the communities. Their objectives have always been to develop strategies to divide them, or manipulate or corrupt their leaders. 

The State has systematically and historically abandoned this region. This situation is made worse by mining interests,  as the State relegates many of its responsibilities (especially in moments of crisis) to these companies. They promote extractivist activities as the magic medicine for all ailments, lying and hiding information. 

The proposed exploitation of the Navidad deposit (the stage currently prohibited by the provincial law XVII N°68) will cause contamination and uncontrollable and irreparable environmental, social and cultural harm. The processes it will use will consume tons of explosives and toxic chemicals; will irreparably contaminate large volumes of water apt for human consumption and/or other activities; will generate acid mine drainage; will expose dangerous heavy metals like lead and copper from their natural state in the ground; will severely destroy and harm the land; and will leave the local populations exposed to serious illnesses and without any real and longstanding benefits, given  they will no longer be able to develop other productive activities. 

For this reason we demand: that our rights as Original Peoples are respected; the immediate nullification of the mining concessions where the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent was not respected; that the environmental harms that have been caused by mining companies in the Meseta be remedied, and that the mining companies withdraw from Indigenous territories.

Similarly, we would like to express our solidarity with the communities who have been strongly affected by the snow season in all of the territory of the Puel Mapu, and that everyone collaborate in assisting these communities who are left abandoned by public officials of the provinces of Chubut and Rio Negro. We also invite the population to express its rejection of these and other forms of institutional and civic racism in the certain regions of the Wall Mapu. 


Comunidad Yalalaubat
Comunidad Mallín de los Cual
Comunidad Los Pinos
Comunidad Laguna Fria – Chacay Oeste
Comunidad Ñuke Mapu y vecinos del Escorial