Reports indicate that on October 30 representatives of the oil industry held a meeting with Neuquén’s Province General Attorney José Gerez to request resolute judicial treatment against indigenous groups threatening drilling activities in the Vaca Muerta gas and oil field. In turn, the Mapuche Confederation, a group representing the indigenous community in Patagonia, has reportedly expressed that social and environmental conflicts should be publicly discussed, criticizing what it perceives as attempts to criminalize protests. On October 19 an oil spill took place in Vaca Muerta, affecting an area of 30 hectares.
Armed individuals and groups claiming to represent the interests of the broader Mapuche community lay sovereignty claims in southern Argentina and Chile, threatening to disrupt logging, mining, and drilling activities. Bearing in mind that Vaca Muerta has been targeted in the past, albeit unsuccessfully, news of the oil spill could potentially prompt groups like the Mapuche Ancestral Resistance (RAM) to seek violent action. Activism is likely to surge as a reaction to attempts to shield drilling facilities from protesters, who frequently scuffle with security agents guarding Vaca Muerta.