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Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), the worldwide largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, expressed its solidarity with the families of Cristian Ferreyra and Miguel Galván, members of the Peasant Movement of Santiago del Estero (MOCASE), who were murdered in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The network also expressed its solidarity with all who support the fight against the advance of agribusiness in Argentina.
“We repudiate with sorrow and indignation the impunity and injustice of both murders, as well as the evictions and illegal clearing that is daily carried out, and the suffering of the peasants and indigenous that defend and guard their birthplace, generation after generation”, reads the declaration issued in the last days of 2012*.
Cristian was 25 and on 16 November 2011 he was at home, in San Antonio community, Santiago del Estero province, preparing an assembly where other MOCASE leaders would participate. Suddenly, Javier and Arturo Juarez, hitmen hired by soy businessman Jorge Ciccioli, from Santa Fe province, arrived to Cristian´s house. Without saying a word, they shot Cristian in cold blood, who died a few hours later.
Other two leaders were hurt and beaten. Peasants of San Antonio are literally under siege by the increasing advance of bulldozers, soy producers, politicians and parapolice officers. There are 25 families living in 2000 hectares who have suffered several attacks, said MOCASE leader Diego Monton to Real World Radio a few hours after Ferreyra´s murder.
Ciccioli and Javier Juarez were imprisoned. By mid December, 2012, an appeals court of Santiago del Estero province rejected a request for release by the murderers´ attorneys.
On October 10, 2012, Miguel Galvan (40) was murdered. According to MOCASE leader Carilo Olaiz who was interviewed by Real World Radio on October 11, Galvan was with other peasants in Paraje Simbol, to the north of Santiago del Estero, carrying out their daily work at a small-animal farm. This was interpreted as an attempt to prevent the work of a group of people from agriculture company La Paz who was delimiting as their own part of the community territory. It was then that hitman Paulino Riso, hired by the company to harass the families of the area so that they allow the delimitation of the community territories, stabbed Galvan, who bled to death. Riso was arrested afterwards.
The harassments, death threats and beatings against the family of Galvan had become permanent by representatives of La Paz company, who aims to take over 100,000 hectares of land from the community in order to grow soy. Today, those fields are destined to feed local populations. However, MOCASE´s denunciations before the murders are not duly heard by local and national authorities.
FoEI denounced in its statement “the interference of transnational corporations with peoples’ sovereignty, and the complicity of public officials towards them, who would pave their way while violating the human rights of his countrymen”.
Argentinian authorities responded to Ferreyra´s death with a moratorium on land clearings for six months. After that period, the advance of soy continued and the displacements and violence against peasant and indigenous territories of the provinces also continued.
MOCASE and the National Peasant and Indigenous Movement (MNCI), member of the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC-Via Campesina) are demanding the passing of a law to stop the displacement of peasants and community members. The bill is publicly known as the “Cristian Ferreyra Bill”.
“We support the demand of our member group Friends of the Earth Argentina, to the national and provincial governments of Argentina, to be aware of the reality of indigenous peasant families, protect their lands and support their production knowing that this means ban logging, evictions and the advance of agribusiness corporations. Consequently we expect the government to approve with urgency the law to stop evictions, known as "Cristian Ferreyra", added the federation.
It also stated that they will continue “the construction of a world where justice and solidarity prevails, and from all corners of the world we will send messages of courage to the people of the province of Santiago del Estero. Its strength is that of all the peoples who are resisting the advance of this unsustainable and unfair model”, concluded the environmentalist federation present in almost 80 countries.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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