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Montevideo, April 24th 2024 - 19:07 UTC



Mapuche Resistance behind National Park fire, Chubut governor says

Monday, January 29th 2024 - 10:24 UTC
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The self-appointed RAM rebels are pursuing a real estate business, Governor Torres insisted The self-appointed RAM rebels are pursuing a real estate business, Governor Torres insisted

Over 1000 hectares of land have burned down in the Los Alerces National Park in the Argentine province of Chubut, where Governor Ignacio Torres blamed the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance (RAM) rebel organization for starting the fire, it was reported Sunday. “There are indications that the fire was intentional,” he stressed.

Torres visited the city of Esquel Sunday afternoon to fly over the area where a fire broke out Thursday and remains out of control. Reinforcements in staff and equipment from federal and provincial agencies are due Monday, it was also explained.

The governor insisted the rebels' motive was “to take lands” but added that those behind it would “have to answer” for their deeds and “pay for it.”

“Under no circumstances is this government going to turn a blind eye to those who, out of petty interests, caused an environmental disaster and endangered all the neighbors in the area,” he said.

The provincial president explained that the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance (RAM) is behind the fires in order to increase their “real estate business”. He described them as “delinquents” and “swindlers” who, “under false flags, take lands”.

“The RAM [rebels] are a bunch of hooligans, they are as Mapuche as I am a Syrian Lebanese” descendant, said Torres, who assured that “it is time to put a definitive stop” to the situation, which he likened to past events in Neuquén and Río Negro.

The fire started on Thursday at 10.30 p.m. in the Centinela Creek area within National Park jurisdiction, but the flames eventually reached the provincial territory. The exact surface affected is still to be confirmed.

On Sunday firefighters warned that the intense smoke coupled with high temperatures and the ensuing reduced visibility prevented airborne maneuvers from being undertaken although two hydrant airplanes and two helicopters are available.

“The smoke that is concentrated in the valley of Lake Futalaufquen means that we have very little visibility, so what could not be done during the morning is the work with aerial means,” explained Fire Department Chief Mario Cárdenas.

The focus now is on preventing the fire from hitting populated areas with houses and other buildings. Smoke has reached Esquel and other nearby towns, such as Trevelín, amid strong winds which reached gusts of 50 km/h.

In addition to burning the native forest, the flames affected species such as ñire, laura, cohiue cane, and lenga. The Los Alerces National Park was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2017.

The provinces of La Pampa, Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego are on alert as dangerous conditions are expected to persist for several days. Residents were requested to avoid using authorized campfires and to respect other indications from the authorities. Maximum caution was also recommended along Route 71, which is on the fire's path.

To fight the fire in areas of difficult access, drones were used for surveys and monitoring, as well as thermal cameras. In addition, two helicopters and two AT-802 turboprop airplanes with the capacity to discharge up to 3,000 liters of water are already in use.

Authorities underlined Sunday that the fire was “still active.”


Categories: Environment, Politics, Argentina.

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