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Rebellion of the

Jorgelina is furious:

An indigenous Casique in her region in Argentina is exploiting his traditional authority and denying the women in his community their own traditional right to have a say on domestic violence and femicide.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case, especially among older caciques. Jorgelina has had better experiences with younger ones. They are more respectful of women's rights. But the patriarchy is only slowly giving way. A difficult battle for Jorgelina. 

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Charlotte Eichhorn


On the one hand, Jorgelina does not want to attack the traditional "internal political" structure of the indigenous communities. On the other, she knows that there are "bad apples" in indigenous communities, as in any society. She could attack the Cacique by invoking Argentine equality laws, but she probably would not succeed. She also believes that internal matters should be resolved internally.

Jorgelina is one of the few Mby'a Guaraní women in Argentina who has made it almost to the level of a "cacique" in the Guaraní's internal power structure.

However,she ultimately had to give up her vice-cacique status in her remote community of Tamadua, as she was often absent as the international representative of the cross-border Guaraní umbrella organization CCNAGUA,- also abroad, but she has twice as hard a time as an indigenous woman. Over the past 20 years, Argentinian women have won many rights. But these are under attack.

Violence against women is brutaly widespread. According to official figures, a total of 322 women were murdered in the year 2023. There are no official figures on rapes, but according to Jorgelina, there is a very high number of unreported cases. Often, police officers are involved in or cover up the crimes. Nevertheless, the libertarian President Javier Milei, elected in 2023, closed the Ministry for Women and Gender Equality. Milei is considered a right-winger. During the election campaign, he publicly mocked women's rights and threatened to ban abortion. He sympathizes with Brazil's ultra-right former President Jair Bolsonaro.

His support of the patriarchy is also evident in other areas: For large landowners and foreign investors, land and natural resources have been seen as a resource to be exploited for decades. This leads to deforestation, mineral extraction, and environmental destruction.

For Milei, large landowners, and foreign investors, land and natural resources are a resource to be exploited.

Anyone who, like the indigenous people, have a different perspective on nature and life are ridiculed, threatened, expelled, or killed. A development that is continuing under Milei.He opens the doors wide to foreign investors, especially in extractive industries such as oil and mining.

Indigenous identity loss leads to violence in the family

This situation leads to frustration among the traditional indigenous men, as they lose their land as well as their forest and are no longer able to feed their families through hunting. In most cases, they also have no other job opportunities. The indigenous lifestyle is losing its relevance. This insecurity is also intensified by the influence of a partially digitalised world in their villages, especially through mobile phones. Some are torn between the traditional and the modern world, not always knowing how to deal with it. The young adapt more quickly and lots then challenge the traditional authority of the elders. Some of them take out their frustration on their wives and families.

Some men take out their frustration on their wives and families.

Despite exceptional women like Jorgelina, in many indigenous communities, there still exists a traditional, predominantly male-dominated, patriarchal society, in which the "Cacique" holds the fate of women, youth, and children in their hands and also decides on any punishment for men.

Argentine law tolerates this as a cultural custom and only intervenes when deaths become known.


Dr. Javier has been responsible for indigenous Mby’a communities in the public health service in Misiones for almost a decade. Cacique Hilario represents 14 Mby’a-Guaraní communities within his jurisdiction.

More about Dr. Javier:

Financed by a church aid organisation from Europe, both are now trying to counteract the discrimination of women in the indigenous justice system, sadly without softening traditional jurisprudence.

It is difficult for non-indigenous people to fully understand the mechanisms and rules of these millennia-old cultures. The indigenous people have their own traditions and ways of life, which worked for them until a few decades ago. Nowadays, however, they often seem outlandish and difficult for our white world to understand. 

Jorgelina now wants to challenge this. She has founded a women's group made up of women from several remote communities. The group meets once a month to discuss various topics, including women's rights. Her aim is to encourage women to speak out not only within their community, but also to open up to the press and the public to talk about their lives and their specific problems. It is a first attempt to counter the influence of the caciques. 

Jorgelina now wants to challenge this. She has founded a women's group

There is already a younger, politicised generation of Mby'a-Guaraní women who are studying at university and are therefore interact in the white world on a daily basis. At the same time, however, they are also committed to preserving their indigenous traditions, promoting local indigenous women and trying to find a compromise between the two worlds.

Young women also fight against a kind of intellectual racism in the white world.

Students like Luz, also fight against a kind of intellectual racism in the white world.

They criticise the fact that the NGO representatives sometimes behave in an elitist manner and treat the Mby'a women in courses- no mater how well intended - almost like children.

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Luz and her fellow women activists denounce this, but try instead to build bridges in both worlds by providing more local information instead of opening up rifts.


Dr. Javier is probably right about one thing: preventing violence by improving the quality of life works, and is also essential for the survival of the Mby'a-Guaraní communities.

While new water pipes and electricity supply, as well as nutrition adapted to the modern world, are helpful, he places special emphasis on the education of adults, capacity planning, and the optimal use of existing resources.

Indigenous communities will probably no longer receive any financial support from the Argentinian state in the near future, and their "land and housing rights" will be further watered down or abolished, making the communities even more dependent on NGOs. Current figures show that almost half of all non-indigenous Argentinians also live below the poverty line. It remains to be seen whether President Milei's shock therapy will work and put the economy on a stable growth path. And even if it does, it is unlikely that the poorest population will benefit.

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