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Almost a year after the death of Cristian Ferreyra, member of the Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero (MOCASE), on Thursday October 10, another peasant, Miguel Galvan was stabbed to death by hitmen hired by agribusiness corporations in the north of Argentina.
After Ferreyra’s death in November of 2011, the Argentinean authorities reacted by issuing a 6-month moratorium on deforestation. After the moratorium ended, the expansion of soy production continued with evictions and violence, on peasant and indigenous territories.
While the National Indigenous Peasant Movement (MNCI) was celebrating the imminent discussion of a bill that stops evictions in community lands, Thursday’s murder in Paraje Simbol, in the north of Santiago del Estero, exposed the feudalism of local governments and agribusiness.
In fact, even though there is a law in force that protects indigenous territories, promoted by the Ministry of Social Development of Argentina, the law is not being enforced, MOCASE leader Carilo Olaiz told Real World Radio.
Although the murderer, as well as the company that hired him and the accomplices in the provincial government have been identified, the Argentinean justice does not seem to go beyond the “feuds” of land owners and their allies, said Carilo.
Carilo also spoke about the incidents that led to the stabbing of Galvan. On Wednesday, 10th October, Galvan and other peasants gathered to carry out their daily work in the farm, which was considered as an attempt to prevent the work of employees working for Agropecuaria LAPAZ SA in the wiring of the farm. The company has established part of the territory as its own.
One of the workers of the company, Paulino Riso, reacted by pulling out a knife and injuring Miguel, who bled to death. The harassment, the death threats and the violence against Miguel’s family had become a constant practice by the employees of the company, which contests 1,000 hectares of land to the community.
The land is located where the provinces of Santiago del Estero, Salta and el Chaco meet. After virtually occupying all the area of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Entre Ríos, Corrientes and Córdoba provinces, the soy border expands to other parts of the country.
The incidents were reported to the police office of Monte Quemado and before the local court and the provincial authorities.
MOCASE reports that the Crisis Committee of Santiago del Estero had already noted irregularities. So they directly blame governor Gerardo Zamora for his lack of action.
MOCASE, as well as the MNCI (a member of La Vía Campesina International) demand the urgent passing of the Bill Against Evictions, but they claim the law should also be supported by actions by the national government to protect the safety of the peasant families being harassed by land owners.
Otherwise, the rules are useless.
During the interview, Carilo said that almost a year after the death of Cristian Ferreyra, the conditions of organized violence by the corporations remain unchanged.
“As in the case of Cristian, we have filed all the accusations and we even had a meeting with the judge in July. The government of Santiago del Estero was aware of this and did nothing against the armed gangs”, said Carilo.
The leader faulted the development model for the structural violence, of which the Agrofood Plan is a part of. The plan promotes growing soy production and it is promoted by agricultural institutions linked with agribusiness in Argentina. “This growth can only be achieved by expelling the peasants from their lands”, said Carilo.
“The provinces continue to be a feud where businessmen do whatever they want. We demand the government’s intervention in the territory”.
The MNCI will demonstrate in Santiago del Estero and in other provinces, including in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, while it calls international alliances to ask the Argentinean government to protect the peasant and indigenous lives.
At the same time, there is a mobilization being prepared to mark the first anniversary of the death of Cristian Ferreyra next November 16.
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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