Press Release – 17th August 2017
In an interview about the campaign group Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche* (RAM) on August 9th 2017 by MDZ, Patricia Bullrich claimed that “Behind RAM there is a British organisation that is the main supporter of RAM”. She then confirmed when asked by an interviewer that she believed a Bristol-based NGO was directly financing RAM, saying that “We have absolutely confirmed this”. She also at one point implied that Mapuche International Link (MIL) was financed by the British state, before backtracking on that claim. You can view the whole interview with Minister Bullrich here.
Following these allegations MIL would like to clarify that:
We have not given any financial support whatsoever to any other campaign groups either in the UK, Argentina or any other country. We are a totally self-funding non-profit organisation and all the work that we do is carried out by volunteers who sympathise with indigenous communities. We could not afford to finance any other groups even if we wanted to. We have also never received money from any government or any other public or private institution.
Bullrich has not given any evidence to support her assertions. Similar rootless accusations have been made against MIL in the past by extreme right-wing bloggers so it seems likely that her claims originate from there. It is truly alarming that Argentina’s security minister could see such blogs as somehow constituting evidence that MIL is financing RAM.
Reynaldo Mariqueo, Secretary General of Mapuche International Link, points out: “Minister Bullrich has publicly stated – without any evidence – that an English-based NGO is financially supporting the RAM movement. It does this to reactivate anti-British sentiments relating to the Falklands War and to demonize the Mapuche communities who fight peacefully for their legitimate rights, placing it alongside the ‘enemy’. The Minister also wants to divert the public’s attention away from the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado and so stop the growing public protest demanding his reappearance after being arrested by the police.”
On the 14th of August Mr Mariqueo contacted the Argentinian Ambassador in London, Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano, to ask him to clarify the indirect accusations made by Minister Bullrich against our organization – he promised to get back to us yesterday after contacting the central government in Argentina but we are still waiting for a response. We assume that they would prefer neither to confirm nor deny the allegation as either response would cause them political embarrassment as they have no proof. “We demand either a full retraction and an apology or for them to produce evidence against us.” Mr Mariqueo said.
The Mapuche nation state was annexed in 1885, and there has yet to be any meaningful attempt to address Argentina’s colonial legacy by its government.
Mapuche International Link
* Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche or RAM: a Mapuche movement for self-determination whose leader has been on hunger strike in Esquel prison since July 31st – on August 1st a young Argentinian man called Santiago Maldonado visited the “Lof en Resistencia de Cushamen” community to express solidarity with the campaign to free Lonko Facundo Jones Huala. He later disappeared in suspicious circumstances following a police raid on the area which has been violently besieged by security forces in recent months – the activist’s disappearance has caused a wave of protest across Argentina.
“: After the publication of this communiqué, Mapuche International Link has been informed directly by the spokespersons of the community “Lof in Cushamen Resistance” that Lonko Facundo Jones Huala does not lead the organisation RAM, as had been widely reported by the mass media from Argentina. Various alternative means of information indicate that RAM may be an entity created by the Argentine intelligence services operating as ‘agents provocateurs’ to harm the image of the just demands of the Mapuche communities.”