On Monday, June 24, 2013, Pope Francis spent 45 minutes meeting and talking with the leader of the Qom community, Félix Diaz about his community’s struggles to have their rights recognized. During the interaction, Diaz discussed the plight of his people and the unwillingness of both the local and national governments to engage in dialogue with the Qom about their land rights. Additionally, according to Diaz, the Qom leader made certain to spend some time discussing the challenges that all Indigenous peoples throughout Argentina and Latin America face so that the Pope could better understand Indigenous struggles.
Ultimately, Diaz asked the Pope to intercede on his behalf with Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner so that a dialogue can begin. Despite frequent protests and efforts, the current President has thus far refused to work with the Qom leadership. In fact, over the past several years the main interactions between the Qom community and the government have been in the form of violent confrontations — like the one that happened most recently on May 22, 2013.
The private meeting was arranged by Nobel Peace Laureate, Adolfo Pérez Ezquivel, who also was in attendance and discussed the human rights violations that had taken place in Argentina with respect to Indigenous peoples.