BUENOS AIRES – A small patch of land is the epicenter of a conflict to defend the rights of Argentina’s original inhabitants against construction firms.
Punta Querandi, a little “peninsula” in a river in the Buenos Aires provincial town of Dique Lujan, was isolated by the collapse of its only bridge and by the private neighborhoods surrounding it. The only access is now by boat.
Local residents have two demands: a ban on construction at local archaeological sites and Indian burial grounds and for the local wetlands – which guard against flooding in the zone – to be preserved.
In Punta Querandi there is a little cairn of stones where offerings are made to Pachamama and other Indian dieties.
A young Indian man, Valentin Palma Calamullo, who – with several companions – heads the Pacha Defense Movement and said that the conflict is rooted in the fact that construction companies working in the surrounding communities want to use Punta Querandi as a place to moor their boats.
He said that pieces of ancient ceramics, utensils and three pieces of skull have been found at the site, although the origin of the bones has not been determined.
In 2009, the Pacha Defense Movement was formed and in 2010, when the building firm wanted to dig at the site, the association staged an ongoing sit-in.
Since then, they have defended Punta Querandi, are demanding the return of Indian remains found nearby and have also denounced the construction firms for wanting to build a new private neighborhood nearby where there are three other ancient sites and a burial ground.
The movement is demanding that the national government take charge of the zone to implement measures to preserve and research the sites.