“It is a very important achievement. The same government that said we did not exist had to comply with the law and give us legal status. We live many moments of tension, even during the signing of the legal representation, but we are very happy and the community is very united and very strong to enforce its rights, ”explained the Mapuche werken (spokesperson) from Campo Maripe, Natalia Izaza. He reported that the provincial officials wanted to make them sign a document supporting the new Hydrocarbons Law (the community refused) and, instead, they did sign that the Provincial Constitution and ILO Convention 169 (supralegal indigenous regulations) must be complied with. .
The Campo Maripe community lives, works and raises their animals in Loma Campana (Añelo), where the oil companies YPF and Chevron began to exploit oil in 2013 with the questioned hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) technique. Loma Campana is part of the Vaca Muerta hydrocarbon formation, designated as one of the world's largest unconventional oil reserves.
The National State and Neuquén violated the rights of the community (in force in national and international legislation) by not carrying out the process of consultation and free, prior and informed consent to the community. Even YPF and front-line provincial officials discriminated against the Community, denied their Mapuche identity and called them “family”. Since 2012, the community, together with the Mapuche Confederation of Neuquén (CMN), have demanded compliance with their rights, respect for indigenous territory and the registration of their legal status. In the absence of a response from the provincial government, on October 9 the Mapuche communities of the Zonal Xawnko (of the CMN) closed the entrance to the oil wells and Mapuche women chained themselves in the fracking towers.
Provincial officials opened the dialogue and promised to register legal status before October 22. But they did not meet that date. That same day, in a gesture of goodwill, the Campo Maripe Community and the Mapuche Confederation extended the deadline until Friday, October 24.
On Friday at 10 pm, the Neuquén government enacted Decree 2407 to register the legal status of the Campo Maripe community.
The Government promised in writing to survey the community's territory within a maximum period of 90 days. "Now we are going to be vigilant that the survey is completed and that we are consulted for the actions that companies and governments intend to carry out in our territory," said Campo Maripe spokesperson Natalia Izaza. He also highlighted the work with Gabriel Cherqui (from the Kaxipayiñ community) and the Mapuche Confederation.
Indigenous law legislates that legal status is not constitutive (it does not create the community, because it exists beyond the acceptance or not of the State), but it is a tool against State institutions (from government agencies to courts judicial). “With the registration of the personería, the official position of denying the Mapuche indigenous identity is left behind and now the consultation process will have to be carried out for any action that affects the territory,” explained Micaela
Gomiz, from the ODHPI.