Press Releases and Statements

Position Statement – Claims by the native Argentinean population (Mapuche)

In 2001 Atilio Curiñanco and Rosa Nahuelquir occupied, without authorisation, 385 hectares of unpopulated land situated in Patagonia, belonging to Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino held by Edizione Holding (holding of the Benetton family). They claimed possession of the land in Patagonia from an ancestral and historical (i.e. not legal) viewpoint.

In making this symbolic gesture, the Curiñancos stayed there for 39 days, at the end of which they were ordered to leave. As a result of this incident, Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino was compelled to initiate a lawsuit which confirmed the total legality of its ownership of the land, situated in the area of Santa Rosa.

In the wake of this event, a number of Mapuche activist groups launched a media campaign to focus international attention on an historic problem relating to the creation of the Argentinean state in the 19th century and its relationship with the native populations who lived there before the birth of the state. This is the issue in which Benetton, almost a century later, found itself unwittingly involved.

Benetton decided to take a role in helping to solve this secular issue with the involvement and the encouragement of the Nobel prize winner Perez Esquivel.

  • Pérez Esquivel, Argentine Nobel laureate, intervened in October 2004 to ask Luciano Benetton to make a gesture which would consent the opening of a dialogue, with the participation of all the parties in the dispute, from the central to local Argentine governments, to the native population and entrepreneurs from Patagonia.
  • In November 2004 Luciano Benetton responded to this request by announcing in a letter to Adolfo Pérez Esquivel that he was to hand over a production unit of good quality land in Patagonia with water resources, situated near the town of Esquel, for the benefit of the local population.
  • In July 2006 the government of the Chubut Province, to which 7,500 hectares of good quality land for the benefit of the native population had been offered, refused this proposal with the excuse of a presumed low productivity rate of the land. In fact, the land offered has abundant water resources, with 10 kilometres along the banks of the Chubut river, and would be well suited to intensive use, not only for animal grazing, but also for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.
  • The governor of Chubut’s refusal of this proposition is a blow to the dialogue process in the historic disagreement between the Mapuche population and the Argentinean state, in which the Benetton Group has been involuntarily involved, but to which it decided to offer its contribution, which has been unfortunately refused.
  • In 1991 Edizione Holding (holding of the Benetton family) bought Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino from three Argentine families, revitalizing this historical company which, despite a past stretching back one hundred years, was at that time in total decline. It currently provides work for more than 600 people on a modern farm dedicated, above all, to breeding sheep.

    From the outset, Compañía de Tierras Sud Argentino S.A. has re-invested all resources and capital in Argentina, staking on the growth and development of the country. The company works with the local community, responding to its concerns and needs, with the strong conviction that social well-being can be improved through joint efforts. On the basis of this approach the company carries out ongoing social aid schemes. (For further information www.companiadetierras.com.ar).

    20 December 2010