Thursday, 23 February 2012

Time to play: is this a proper match?

A long-running case involving NBA player Manu Ginobili and the Argentinean Mapuche community named ‘Paichil Antriao’ is again a hot debate.

Background:In 2004, Ginobili bought a piece of land (more than a piece though, it is 27 acres) for US$10 million in the region of Villa La Angostura, Argentina. It seemed that the intention of the NBA celebrity was to build a house and a five star hotel but nothing has been constructed as yet. However, the land has been in a legal battle shortly after its purchase. The reason: the Mapuche community of Paichil Antriao lives and has been present on that land since 1902. Accordingly, it is said that it is recognized by the Argentine state's own documents. Nonetheless, the Paichil Antriao community explains that over the years such title has been disrespected and they have been forced to move further and further to the border of the land.

In 2007, Ginobili filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration that his title was legitimate and no one else had any claims to the land. The suit however brought an outrage to the indigenous peoples because Ginobili’s lawyers used the argument that the Mapuche people never existed in Argentina (only in Chile) and, thus they did not have status as Indigenous Peoples at all. Therefore the lawyers argued that the Paichil Antriao Community could not claim the lands to be their own because they did not exist in Argentina; in other words they did not have any legal standing.

In 2011, an appellate court in actual fact ordered that the Mapuche community of Paichil Antriao to be added to the lawsuit, This was followed by a statement given by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States granting precautionary measures to the community and instructing Argentina to “take steps to allow the Mapuche people to reach sacred sites on the land and to protect the lives of those in the community who had been displaced due to the conflict.”

It is good to note that ILO Convention 169, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 was ratified by Argentina on 2000. Having a look at Article 16 it clearly prohibits the eviction of indigenous peoples:

Article 16
1. Subject to the following paragraphs of this Article, the peoples concerned shall not be removed from the lands which they occupy.

Also it is also noticeable

Article 17
1. Procedures established by the peoples concerned for the transmission of land rights among members of these peoples shall be respected.
wish you were here (me too!)

In 2012, the human rights organization, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de Pueblos Indígenas (ODHPI), announced that it will assist in the defense of the Mapuche community against the lawsuit filed by Ginobili. In fact, last week, ODHPI’s lawyer, Emma Cabeza, said that a presentation was made ​​in court answering the position of the community that claims to have possession of the land.

This story continues…hopefully there will be a happy ending for all parts involved.I said so because Mr Ginobili also appears to be a victim. He asserts that when he bought the land he did not know about any community leaving in the land. Moreover, ODHPI’s director, Juan Manuel Salgado, mentions that Mr Ginóbili bought the land from Joseph Salamida, a local official appointed by the dictatorship, who in the past had seized various lots of land. Thus, we could say that in a way Mr Ginobili is suffering from legally buying an illegally obtained land by a third party.

Sources here, here and here.

No comments :