Argentine Patagonia, Threatened by British, Israelis and Americans

By Stella Calloni on February 11, 2022

Patagonia, photo: Bill Hackwell

While the Argentine government maintains its protest before its British counterpart for the extension of the military base located in the archipelago of the Malvinas Islands, colonially occupied by Great Britain since 1833, a serious incident between the personal guards of a foreign businessman, who illegally bought more than 12 thousand hectares in the Patagonian province of Rio Negro, and demonstrators who rejected the takeover of the Escondido Lake, a paradisiacal site and drinking water reservoir, made evident the foreign invasion and occupation of the very rich territory of the Argentine Patagonia.

The expedition marches for the sovereignty of Lago Escondido began six years ago, led by the Fundación Interactiva para Promover la Cultura del Agua (FIPCA). The marchers must now cross fords and mountains, since the British businessman Joe Lewis closed all access roads to the historic and touristy lake.

About 20 people from different social and union organizations joined FIPCA, led by former lieutenant Julio Cesar Urién, who was detained during the last military dictatorship for his militancy as a Peronist, in a mobilization last Sunday.

The group was violently detained by the armed civilian guards on horseback, when they were passing through the only road that by judicial decision is open.

This brought to light what is happening in Rio Negro and other Patagonian provinces, where British companies, which they initially pretended to be Argentinean, illegally bought large extensions of land. This is the case of Benetton, which with the complicity of Carlos Menem’s government in the 90’s, acquired 2 million hectares in the south and today intends to advance on the scarce lands left to the Mapuche community, which has been resisting usurpation for years.

This is a story of the 21st century, but seems to refer to other colonial times. Patagonia is now being threatened by disgustingly wealthy British, Israelis and Americans. The businessman Lewis is the fifth richest person in the world who has also built an airstrip to accommodate the arrival of the latest generation warplanes. This has all been denounced here for a long time.

Former President Mauricio Macri, a friend of Lewis, vacationed at the businessman’s estate when he governed this country, and during his administration the lawsuits opened against this illegal occupation since 2011 were ignored, boxed up and forgotten.

Buenos Aires was the scene yesterday of another Expedition March for the Sovereignty of Lago Escondido in front of the House of Río Negro with the slogans: “British out of our territory!” and “The Malvinas are Argentine. Lago Escondido too”, claiming local sovereignty over the whole territory of Patagonia, while the issue of the persecution against the Mapuches, who are being cornered in a few remaining hectares, was revived, after the former Minister of Security of Macri’s government, Patricia Bullrich, called them “terrorists”.

Yesterday’s march called for solidarity with those who are fighting in the south for integral sovereignty and the deputy of the Parliament of the South, Hernán Harispe, recalled that sovereignty is not defended in pieces and that this occupation means a colonial enclave in Patagonia.

The disappearance and murder of Santiago Maldonado, a young artisan who supported the Mapuche in August 2017, as well as the murder of Rafael Nahuel in November 2017, whose community was defending its right to the usurped land, were also recalled in the local media.

The protest was also supported by Peronist organizations that denounced the criminal activity of Nicolás van Ditmar, an Argentine businessman and administrator of Lewis’ estate, who has even threatened, with his armed guards, judges who have acted in defense of national sovereignty in the south of the country.

Source: Portal Alba, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English