Government-supported agribusinesses assault indigenous farmers
An alert issued by Rettet den Regenwald/Rainforest Rescue, Septembr 3, 2008
On 28th July 2008, an infantry squad made up of fifty soldiers, with personal support from the soya entrepreneur Roberto Strisich, attacked the community with bulldozers [and lorries, arriving early in the morning in the fields belonging to the Guaraní community. They held in their hands an eviction order against ‘squatters’ which had been awarded by the criminal judge of the tribunal of San Pedro in favour of the soya entrepreneur.
The families belonging to the community Jasy Endy Guasu (Big Moon Light) have been living and working for many years in the area known as El Talar (public lands in the department 515), and in the Department San Martín (Ledesma) in the province of Jujuy in northern Argentina. Since 2006, the soya entrepreneurs have been claiming ownership of the same land with adjudication contracts. The government has declared that “no documents can be found for the period between 1996 and 2000 when the same government granted those lands to the indigenous peoples; nonetheless the legal papers which the soya entrepreneur Strisich has obtained are valid.”
It is important to notice that on 2nd May of 2006 a Tribunal in Jujuy passed a judgment that ordered the Provincial Government to “hand over the land in the departments 1-515 in Santa Bárbara” in its entirety to the original inhabitants. The Guaraní people in the province of Jujuy form 35 communities, of which only one has succeeded in obtaining a legal title to their land.
On 31st July, near the zone of El Talar, a Guaraní woman who was accompanying her sons was evicted. She had been collecting the animals that had been saved during the attack which the community had suffered. Once more she was attacked by Strisich and by two bullies who were in his service. Strisich, dressed in combat wear and carrying two pistols in his belt, pursued her with a knife. The community wanted to press charges at the local police station, but this was refused on the grounds that Strisich held the legal title to the land.
Apart from the soya entrepreneur Strish, other entrepreneurs, such as Nestor Farfan, have been systematically threatening and pressuring members of the community, approaching people when they are by themselves. They have been responsible for death threats, for entering houses, stealing tools, burning merchandise, killing animals, prowling around armed at night as well as of other abuse to which the indigenous peoples have become accustomed.
After twenty days of mobilization, of marches, hearings, assemblies, meetings with a diverse range of officials and a large number of actions, yet without return of the land by the authorities, the community of Jasy Endy Guazu decided to go back to the mountain from which they had been unjustly and violently evicted.
On 19th August, the Guaraní people undertook a historic march, joined by all the surrounding communities, with vans, bicycles, on horse or on foot, to an encampment in the centre of the village. On the mountain, some 2,000 people had a Guaraní celebration at the foot of an ancient quebracho tree, in which they called on the union of the Guaraní people to obtain the rights that they had been denied and expressed their gratitude to the members of the social organizations which had supported this action.
A camp has been erected on the land where those who had been evicted are controlling and guarding the area, in the hope that the situation will normalize. All of this has happened under the valid National Law 26160 “Emergency of Indigenous Communities” which protects the indigenous peoples of Argentina against any eviction by officials, through criminal or any other measures from their land for a period of four years (which will expire in October 2010).
This law also determines the need to demarcate the indigenous lands, so that they can be put back under the control of the indigenous peoples of the country and that those communities can obtain land titles. Furthermore, the provincial government of Jujuy has to abide by the National Constitution.
Article 75, section 15 of the constitution states that they must abide by international conventions such as paragraph 160 of the International Labour Organization and with the recent Declaration for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights. All of them recognize the indigenous peoples’ pre-existing rights to their territory and their right to be given proper land titles.
End the abuse, end the repression, end the evictions, end the injustice – the indigenous peoples want to live in peace on their land!!!
Please support the indigenous Guaraní so that they can recover their land and continue as a people committed and active for the creation of a participatory democracy, and to allow them to defend the rights of the people to their property and their possessions.
Complete the form at http://www.regenwald.org/international/englisch/protestaktion.php?id=311 — a protest letter will be sent automatically to the provincial authorities in Jujuy, Argentina.