Argentina: Indigenous community launches anti-fracking fight

Fracking in the Vaca Muerta shale reserves. Mapuche Indigenous communities in the Argentine Patagonian province of Neuquen have denounced fracking in the Vaca Muerta shale reserves, which they claim are contaminating their land and groundwater, killing their livestock. “The Mapuche people are angry,” Albino Campo, leader of the Lof Campo Maripe community, told the BBC. “We feel like they have enslaved our land. It’s as if someone came into your house without asking. They have contaminated everything.” Vaca Muerta holds the second largest hydrocarbon reserves in the world and produces more shale gas than any other in the world outside the United States. The process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves the high-pressure pumping of water and chemicals into deep rock formations to release trapped gas. The practice has been widely criticised by environmentalists and civil society, who warn that it is harmful to public health and the environment. After right-wing President Mauricio Macri took office in December, his administration immediately began rolling out billion-dollar deals to drill for natural gas with transnational companies like ExxonMobil and Dow Chemical Company. Macri wants to exploit the natural resources of the Patagonian desert and privatise Argentina’s state-owned Fiscal Oilfields corporation (YPF), which was nationalised by former President Cristina Fernandez in 2012. YPF was privatised by neoliberal governments in the 1990s after decades as a state-owned company on the grounds that it failed to boost oil and natural gas production needed to keep up with local demand. With more than 400 fracking wells, Macri is turning the Patagonian desert into a gold mine for foreign extractivist corporations at the expense of indigenous communities, who want their ancestral lands to be respected. [Abridged from TeleSUR English.] Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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