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[DOC] Indigenous community takes multinational company to court

Author: Natalia Castelnuovo, Social Anthropologist , Published on: 4 October 2006

[Title translation, and following summary of the article's key points, provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre]
Since September 2004 the indigenous Guaraní community of Caraparí has been protesting against the extension by Refinería del Norte S.A (Refinor) and Conta S.R.L (subsidiary) of an existing gas pipe. The gas pipe crosses the territories of five indigenous communities. The Guaraní’s protests arose because of the harm done to their culture, the violation of their land rights and the fact the company ignored the fact they had not consented to the project. The Caraparí community has owned the lands since ancestral times, and furthermore they were granted a Franciscan order in 1994 which handed them the titles to their land as a “donation”. The multinational Refinor decided to advance with the construction of the gas pipe: First, without having authorisation to bring their trucks and heavy machinery into the community, destroying fences, landscape and subsistence crops; Second, without carrying out social, environmental and cultural impact assessment studies, including studies relating to the capacity of the land to sustain such a big infrastructure project. The Guaraní people’s appeal for such studies remains a central point in their complaints. They have the right to know the possible impacts that the gas pipe could have in the short, medium and long term over their land and their livelihoods, as well as to know the ways to mitigate those impacts. This is especially true since nearby regions have suffered gas pipe explosions. After a process of resistance and many assemblies, the community searched for legal advice. They have drawn on the support of national and provincial environmental laws requiring impact assessments, as well as international laws protecting indigenous people’s rights, such as ILO Convention no. 169, the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and article 75 of the Constitution. Now the communities have taken the case a step further, bringing it to the Supreme Court of Justice where they are seeking recognition of their right over their land, their autonomy and their freedom.

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Related companies: Refinor