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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 23:57 GMT
Argentine indigenous in protest
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

A file photo of a Toba indigenous family in Castelli, Chaco
Indigenous people complain that state services do not reach them
Indigenous people from northern Argentina have lodged a legal complaint against the government after more than 20 of them died of hunger.

They came to the capital, Buenos Aires, to air their grievances at a public hearing in the Supreme Court.

But they are not confident their voices will be heard.

The situation is worst in the northern Argentina province of Chaco, where several people have died and many more are suffering from malnutrition.

We've been asking, every way you can think of, for our lands, for development, for our dignity
Gabino Zambrana
Indigenous association

Indigenous leaders in the Supreme Court say the situation is serious wherever there are indigenous people in Argentina.


The vice-president of an indigenous association, Gabino Zambrana, said the Argentine authorities had abandoned them.

They have been marginalised by society, he said, despite constant appeals to the politicians.

"Our whole lives we've been waiting. We've spoken to many governments, to ministers, we've spoken to presidents," Mr Zambrana said.

"We've been asking, every way you can think of, for our lands, for development, for our dignity.

"But we've not got them."

Their complaint to the Supreme Court is that state resources for housing, health, education and water supplies often do not reach them.

At least 23 Toba, Wichi and Piraga people have died from malnutrition in recent months.

The poorly-equipped hospitals in Chaco province are full of indigenous people suffering from illnesses such as tuberculosis that have their roots in poverty.

But many Argentines are not even aware they have a substantial indigenous community pushed to the edges of society.

And their plight receives little attention from the country's politicians or in the national media.

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