As part of the constant looting currently occurring in Patagonia (a region in southern Argentina and Chile), more and more companies are getting ready to viciously extract the region’s raw materials. From Argentina’s oil wells to mining operations taking place all along the Andes, aluminium smelters and even a nuclear waste deposit make a devastating panorama.
The system's insatiable appetite for energy is also making Patagonian rivers a tempting feast for dam building companies. The hunger for electricity has led to the rise of over 20 dam projects alongside Chile and Argentina which are currently menacing farmers and indigenous people. Among them are the Mapuche, who will see rivers and their ecosystems devastated, as well as their lands flooded. They, along with other indigenous communities and farmers, will be forced to leave their homes in the name of “symbols of progress and development".
Moira Millan is a Mapuche woman who lives in Corcovado, Patagonia, in Argentina. In 1999, she, along with her family and the help from other communities, formed the Mapuche community, Pillan Mahuiza on 150 hectares of land which had been abandoned by the police. This land, previously and still belonging to her ancestors, became the starting point of the reconstruction of a culture and a cosmogony that respects every aspect of nature and the living forces within it. Far from thinking of themselves as land owners, the Mapuche believe they themselves are ‘owned’ by the land, and on this basis, they have been building a new alternative to the capitalist system and its depredation.
But things have not been easy for Pillan Mahuiza whose members have been threatened with eviction and even had death threats from the police and the government. Surrounded by powerful neighbours known as the new terratenientes (large-scale landholders), such as George Soros, Benetton, Perez Compan, Jeremy Irons, Ted Turner, as well as multinational corporations currently extracting natural resources. Pillan Mahuiza is a small but powerful point of light, autonomy and independence ‘amidst some of the most prominent members of the global corporate machine currently occupying their land and extracting its resources.
The difficult reality faced by the Mapuche only makes Pillan Mahuiza stronger. Alongside other Mapuche communities from both sides of the Andes, they are creating a network of resistance and autonomy, based on the fundamental recognition that we must re-think how we live if life on our planet is to be sustained.
Flooding the alternative
The small village of Corcovado and its inhabitants, including Pillan Mahuiza, are currently under threat due to a project which plans on building anything from one to a whole set of six dams in Río Corovado and Río Hielo. The project will be financed mainly by the Spanish group Canadian Barrick Gold and Brazil’s /a>..
Representing her community and the autonomous group Patagonia sin represas (Patagonia without dams), Moira Millan is touring Europe to create new and necessary links with autonomous groups that are trying to build a new way of living, which values include a sustainable approach and a respect to the enviromment. Paradoxically, this approach has a thousand-year-old history, during which the Mapuche have tirelessly resisted colonist invasions and the greed that accompanies them.
Moira Millan will be presenting a video following by a discussion at 88 London Road Squat in Brighton on Wednesday 7th May at 7.30 there will be food on donation. As well she will be at Crossroads Women's Centre 230a Kentish Town Road. London NW5 on Thursday 8th at 18.30