One hundred and nineteen years ago, Francisco Pascasio Moreno ceded to the Nation some seven thousand five hundred hectares located in the vicinity of Laguna Frías and Puerto Blest, to the west of Lake Nahuel Huapi, so that, as he wrote in the donation letter dated November 6, 1903 – the day on which National Parks Day is celebrated – were “consecrated as a natural public park”.
The following year, on February 11, the donation was accepted.
That sector became the core of the national protected areas, in what became known as the Parque Nacional del Sud.
In 1934, the National Congress sanctioned the creation of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, incorporating a larger territory.
Hardly, at that time, those who aimed at the protection of selected areas of Argentine territory would have thought that many years later they would be discussing what to do with a rewe (a kind of sacred Mapuche site) in a space that falls within that orbit.
On October 4 of this year, an eviction operation was carried out against the so-called lof Lafken Winkul Mapu, who had settled in Villa Mascardi, where, beyond reclaiming land belonging to private parties, since 2017 they had settled in a state area, all within the Nahuel Huapi National Park.
The National Parks Administration, dependent on the Nation’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, was harshly criticized by various sectors that considered that it maintained a “soft” position on the issue.
Now, after the eviction, a new problem has arisen: what to do with the rewe?
When the operation was carried out, the federal troops came across this kind of Mapuche altar of that woman whom they indicate as a machi (something like a healer), Betiana Colhuan.
Judge Silvina Domínguez ordered that space be maintained.
From the neighborhood board of Villa Mascardi they described the magistrate’s decision as “unexpected”.
“He recognizes them (members of the Lafken Winkul Mapu) and to all their accomplices who support them by rejecting the rule of law, rights as an indigenous community that have not been able to be accredited”, they maintained.
In addition, it should be remembered that the Wiritray lof, located at the northern headwaters of Lake Mascardi -which has historically been in the place and is unanimously recognized as a native people-, did not know that place of worship, since, through a statement, their members stated: “The only rewe as such, understood as ‘sacred site’, in the entire area, is in the heart of the territory of our community, and was already duly relieved at the time, by the cadastral legal recognition of Law 26160” .
At the opposite of that thought, the werken (spokesperson) of the Coordinator of the Parliament of the Mapuche-Tehuelche People of Río Negro, Orlando Carriqueo, stated: “In Villa Mascardi there is a sacred ceremonial space that has to be returned.”
The indigenous referent went further and maintained: “When the spirituality of a people is attacked, it becomes a crime against humanity.”
At the same time, he mentioned the impossibility of moving it: “The rewe is a space that is already constituted in that place, it is not something that can be carried from one place to another. It is part of international law, hence the seriousness of this, ”he said.
In this sense, he was forceful when he opined: “The national State has to return that part of the territory.”
And that, precisely, is what the residents of Villa Mascardi fear, who, although they celebrated that the eviction had been implemented, immediately showed concern about the measure adopted by the judge regarding that figure.
For now, one hundred and nineteen years after Perito Moreno made the donation of land that was the germ of the creation of National Parks, nobody is very clear about what will happen to the space where the rewe is located…