Argentine minister resigns after indigenous Mapuche women evicted from land

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on Friday accepted the resignation of the minister for women, genders and diversity after she opposed the eviction of a group of indigenous Mapuche women from land in the southern Patagonia region.

Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta, who before taking office had worked as a defense lawyer for a Mapuche leader, had on Thursday criticized the eviction and subsequent arrest in Rio Negro province of six Mapuche women, one of whom was pregnant.

Gomez Alcorta had said it was "extremely serious" that the detainees did not have a lawyer and were denied release.

"The president thanks Elizabeth Gomez Alcorta for her work," the presidency said in a statement.

The sprawling Patagonia region, which Argentina shares with its neighbor Chile, is often the scene of clashes with Mapuche communities claiming rights on ancestral lands held by the state or by private groups.

Argentina's government spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti had on Thursday defended the operation, which was carried out after a court order.

"It was done in compliance with all protocols and without the use of lethal weapons," Cerruti said in a news conference.

"There was no violation of the rights of the people there," she added.

Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Paul Simao

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