Soy yes, indigenous no

Soy yes, indigenous no

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By Darío Aranda

"You cannot talk about human rights and support a governor who represses and kills indigenous brothers," warned Nora Cortiñas, from Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Fundadora Line, last March at the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the UBA. And he was less diplomatic: “(The indigenous people) have a voice, but they are the unheard, who are precisely the ones who are camping here now, surrounded by general contempt, almost silence, to whom the Government does not give the slightest ball. , when they should be the first in line, long before all the politicians looking for pieces of power.

Goverment house. Noon on April 27. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announces on a national channel the sending of a bill to Congress to regulate the sale of land to foreigners.

700 meters from there, the Qom La Primavera community was camping for four months on 9 de Julio Avenue and had been on a hunger strike for 48 hours. They do not ask for handouts. They demand compliance with the law (Article 75, paragraph 17 of the National Constitution, and ILO Convention 169, supra-legal). And they ask for justice for the repression of November 23, 2010, where the provincial police (in complicity with the National Gendarmerie) injured the elderly, women and men. And he murdered Roberto López, a 62-year-old Qom grandfather.


The Italian brothers Carlo and Luciano Benetton have one million hectares. Would it be better if Gustavo Grobocopatel from Buenos Aires acquired them?

The American Douglas Tompkins owns 270 thousand hectares. Would it be preferable that they remain in the hands of Alfredo Olmedo from Salta?

There are no even approximate data on land foreignization in the country. The bill proposes a registration of foreign holders of rural land (would grant 180 days). Perhaps the most relevant point of the legislative proposal.

The Argentine Agrarian Federation (in the past so close to the Rural Society, today so close to the Government) risks figures as disparate as they are difficult to verify. He usually mentions an alleged survey of his own, but never made it public. Even the newspapers cite it as revealed truth.

For now, foreignization only has emblematic cases: Benetton, Tompkins, Joseph Lewis and Ted Turner.

Few can oppose legislating on the sale of land to foreigners. Above all, those who promote the current agricultural model will not be opposed because such a law does not affect any interest of the winners of the current agribusiness model (where soy is only its most visible face).

Regulating the foreignization of land does not combat the heart of rural injustice: the concentration of land. Very few have a lot of land. Many (peasants and indigenous people) have very little.

Hard data from INTA: 2 percent of farms control half of the country's land. While 57 percent of the farms, mostly peasants and small producers, have only 3 percent of the land. It is an agrarian reform, but in reverse.

According to the 1988 National Agricultural Census, there were 422,000 farms in the country. That decreased to 318,000 in 2002 (24.6 percent less).

Everything indicates that in the last nine years the concentration increased, but (Indec by means of) there are no official data. In 2008, in the midst of a dispute between the Government and the Liaison Board, the Agricultural Census was carried out. It would provide accurate data after six years of lack of official statistics on the rural sector. But the expected survey did not escape the irregularities of the Indec. The 2008 Census did not cover the entire national territory and all the data collected were never presented. Direct consequence: social scientists do not take it as valid and, despite themselves, they must continue to deal with the 2002 Census.

"It will be a broad norm that protects family farmers (...) There are models to look at, like Brazil," the President had anticipated on March 1 at the opening of the Congress sessions.

The announcement had created expectations in peasant organizations. Above all because Brazilian legislation contemplates the social function of the land, a desire of the rural grassroots movements, which reject the merely mercantilist conception of the land, in search only of profitability, and which understand the land as an indispensable element. to produce healthy food for the people, a pillar of the food sovereignty of a country.

Only 58 days after the announcement in Congress, on April 27 there was a national network to present the bill. In none of the seven pages is the social function of the earth mentioned. There is also no mention of “family farmers”.

Foreign businessmen and governments do not need to buy land from Argentina to exploit it as needed.

The Río Negro government signed an agreement with China in October 2010 to plant 240,000 hectares, double the current Rio Negro area dedicated to agriculture, considered by the provincial government as "the most important initiative in provincial history." A great diversity of sectors warn that it will be the “soybeanization” of Patagonia and warn about the social, environmental and health consequences that it will imply. And they point out the abundant benefits for the Asian country: the province grants 3,000 hectares at no cost, commits 240,000, grants a sector of the provincial port for at least 50 years, promises the enactment of laws that benefit "investment" and obligates the State provincial to cover the costs of offices, housing and transportation of the technicians of the Chinese company.

The Chaco government signed an agreement last February with the "investment fund" Grupo Alkhorayef, from Saudi Arabia. It is about 200 thousand hectares of the Impenetrable Chaco, an area where indigenous people historically live and whose mountains were decimated by the soybean advance. The provincial government stressed that the land will not be sold, but soybeans can be planted. “If these negotiations advance, not only will Chaco land be arbitrarily prevented from its most legitimate recipients (indigenous and peasants), but an irreversible process of clearing, razing, erosion and chemical contamination will also be carried out, which is still increasing. more so since they are soils not suitable for agriculture, so we will be giving up today's heritage and also the future of all ”, denounced the Multisectoral Forum for the Land of the Chaco.

The main problem of peasants and indigenous people is not foreignization, but the agricultural model that in the last decade advanced on everything that got in the way.

In 2001, 10 million hectares were planted with soybeans in Argentina. In 2003 there were 12 million. After seven years of Kirchnerism, it has reached the record of 19 million hectares with soy monoculture, 56 percent of the land is cultivated. Never before has soybeans grown so much.

“Shifting of the agricultural frontier”, celebrate the technicians and officials. In the daily life of the countryside, it involved evictions as violent as massive. The National Indigenous Peasant Movement (MNCI-Vía Campesina) estimates a floor of 200 thousand rural families expelled by the soybean advance. Where the MNCI has a large presence, such as in Santiago del Estero and Córdoba, bulldozers are usually at the service of planting pools and the Mesa de Enlace (especially the Agrarian Federation, Rural Society and Argentine Rural Confederations).

Neither the national nor the provincial governments have figures on rural conflicts caused by the advance of agribusiness.

The Red Agroforestal Chaco Argentina (Redaf) is a multidisciplinary group made up of social organizations, environmental NGOs, academics and technicians from the North of the country. In October 2010, he presented the survey "Conflicts on land tenure and the environment in the Argentine Chaco region", counting 164 land and environmental conflicts, almost eight million hectares (the equivalent of 390 times the city of Buenos Aires) and 950 one thousand people affected, mainly indigenous and peasants, from only six provinces in northern Argentina (Salta, Formosa, Chaco, Santiago del Estero and northern Santa Fe and Córdoba).

“The root of land conflicts is found in the dispute over the use and control of territorial space based on the imposition of one culture on another. On the one hand agribusiness, where the land is a space to produce and do business, and on the other the indigenous and peasant culture, where the land constitutes a space for life ”, denounces Redaf in its report.

The bulk of the conflicts (89 percent) began in 2000. “It coincides with the impulse of the agro-export model, favored by the international market conditions for the commercialization of soybeans, which resulted in the expansion of the agricultural frontier in the Chaco Region ”, recalls the report.

On April 19, in an unprecedented event, a dozen peasant organizations shared with a handful of legislators a bill to stop rural evictions. The union in the action of organizations with differences was already an auspicious fact.

Despite different levels of adherence to the national government, there was no evidence of political will from the ruling party for the project. Very few deputies were present, a dozen advisers and it was not covered by the official media.


Resolution 125 marked a before and after in making the agrarian model visible.

“It is a model based on extreme‘ soybeanization ’, driven by large companies that make up an important part of what we have called the‘ agribusiness system ’. In this model, a group of large companies and individuals that control key sectors of the agro-export system: export companies, large soybean, sowing pools, seedbeds ", explain Miguel Teubal and Tomás Palmisano in the recently published" From the agrarian strike to the elections 2009 ”.

In the section "The agrarian conflict, characteristics and projections", the economists of the Gino Germani Institute (UBA) make a detailed analysis of the agrarian structure, they affirm that none of the actors of resolution 125 questioned the model, they assure that in no way it would imply the bankruptcy of the farmers, nor would it imply a distributive measure. They conclude that, throughout the conflict, the model was never questioned.

The researchers specify that seven companies account for 83 percent of the export of soybeans (Cargill, Noble Argentina, ADM, Bunge, LDC-Dreyfus, AC Toepfer and Nidera). Eighty-two percent of the soybean oil is distributed by five companies (Bunge, LDC-Dreyfus, Cargill, AGD and Molinos Río de la Plata). Meanwhile, 90 percent of soy derivatives is in the hands of six actors (Cargill, Bunge, Dreyfus, AGD, Vicentín and Molinos Río de la Plata).

None of these actors felt their interests were threatened during the conflict over resolution 125.

“It was convenient for the Government to promote the soybean model since it allowed it to achieve significant surpluses in the trade and fiscal balance necessary for, among other reasons, to face the payment of the foreign debt. Likewise, ‘the field’ was interested in maintaining a model that was highly profitable. Perhaps for these reasons neither of the two parties to the conflict criticized the soybean model, which has remained relatively intact, and remains intact today, ”affirm Miguel Teubal and Tomás Palmisano.

There is no political, official or opposition candidate who proposes to modify (at least gradually) the current agricultural model. Pino Solanas is very clear with his rejection of mega-mining, but (like the rest of the opposition) he attended and smiled at ease at the last Expoagro, the great event in the sector.

Complicit state

The Agroforestry Network warns that the role of the State is one of the central points that indigenous people and peasants identify as responsible, by action or omission, for the resolution of conflicts. “There is impunity and a lack of political decision by governments to solve the problem. The ineffectiveness and lack of state responses is notorious. Governments ignore complaints and, when they listen, they deal with political leaders in order to divide communities and organizations ”.

Denounce that all conflicts are "dissymmetrical". Where companies, individuals with economic resources and the State dispute the land with peasant and indigenous families, "where the former control information, have an impact on the media, have greater resources and mainly have or are related to power." And he harshly questions the actor with the greatest weight when protecting the people: “The limited support of the State for the peasants and indigenous people, and their leading role as the other party to the conflict, is striking, either directly or indirectly. It clearly indicates that although in the speech it questions it, in practice it continues to support the extractivist production model and undermine indigenous and peasant life ”.

The Group of Studies on Political Ecology (Gepcyd) of the Gino Germani Institute (University of Buenos Aires) published at the end of 2010 “Rural violence in Argentina of agribusiness”, where it confirmed the increase in violence against peasants and indigenous people, and it addressed criminalization, militarization, and physical coercion.

“We understand that the growing rural violence in Argentina must be interpreted in the conditions of the implementation of a global design of agrostrategies and State policies that concretize in the territory the redoubling in the extraction and consumption of natural wealth (…) The territorial dispute between agribusiness and the indigenous and peasant communities, and the violence that the former deploys over the latter, is a symptom of a process of concentration, ”explains the group of social scientists that make up Gepcyd.

And they point to the role of the State and the private sector. “Rural violence, rather than demonstrating an absence of institutions in matters of land and rights of indigenous peoples and peasant communities, seems to be linked as the state response.

On October 12, 2009, Diaguita Javier Chocobar was assassinated in Tucumán. On March 13, 2010, in the Santiago area of ​​San Nicolás, the peasant Sandra “Eli” Juárez, 33, died after facing a bulldozer that tried to advance on land where her family always lived. On November 23, during a police repression, Roberto López, qom of the La Primavera community, was assassinated in Formosa, who in a roadblock demanded the right to inhabit ancestral lands. Both murders remain unpunished.

Criminalization is also increasing. The Observatory for Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Odhpi) denounces that, in Neuquén alone, there are 40 criminal cases against the Mapuche People, 200 defendants accused of the crime of defending the territory where they have lived for generations.

Repression and criminalization are not exercised, with few exceptions, by foreigners. Violence, bullets, trials and prisons are promoted by "compatriots", and with the full collaboration of the provincial governments and the Judiciary, also all Argentines.

Serious country

“The rights already acquired will not be affected. I want this to be absolutely clear, because otherwise it would mean changing the rules of the game and harming those who acquired in good faith with rules that were in force until that moment, ”the President remarked when she announced the bill on land foreignization. And he considered that, not respecting the legislation, "it would speak of a not very serious country."

Native peoples and peasants have legislation that protects their territorial rights. National Constitution (article 75, paragraph 17), ILO Convention 169, Law 26160, Twenty-year Possession in force in the Civil Code. Redaf specifies in its survey that in 99 percent of the land conflicts it was determined that indigenous and peasants lack titles that, by current laws, the State and the Judiciary should recognize. 93 percent of conflicts (153) are produced by some action that violates the rights of peasants and ancestral communities in relation to land tenure.


Hundreds of indigenous people from all over the country marched in May 2010 for ten days. For the first time in 200 years, a massive indigenous march reached the Plaza de Mayo and met with the National Executive.

A score of indigenous leaders met with the President. After presenting on the needs and desires, and making the axis in the defense of the territory and the rejection of the extractive model (soybeans, tree monoculture, mining, oil advance), the President took the floor and announced that, in case of discovering oil in an indigenous community, the transfer will be as traumatic as possible.

Indigenous leaders, many with great affinity for the National Government, experienced a mixture of surprise and disappointment. They wondered if the President had not understood the indigenous claim or had a decision made.

Respected colleagues who support the current government do not tire of seeking an explanation, and usually end the discussion with an argument: "They are the contradictions of the model."

What happened with the La Primavera community indicates that it is not about contradictions. They are decisions with real human costs. The geometric advance of large-scale mining is one example. Although perhaps the most obvious is the “Strategic Agrifood Plan 2010-2016”, an official project that aims to increase soy production (among other products) by 20 million tons, will further expand the agricultural frontier and multiply the environmental and social consequences .

The decision of the National Government is to advance on peasant and indigenous lands.


Five months after the repression of the Qom People of Formosa, there is no longer space to deny the complicity of the National Government with Governor Gildo Insfrán.

Despite the systematic violation of human rights, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner maintains an unbreakable alliance with Insfrán. It is evidenced in the action of the Chief of Staff, Aníbal Fernández, on the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (Inadi), the only state space that provided assistance to the La Primavera community. Fernández limited the action of the president of Inadi, Claudio Morgado (the dirty work was left to María Rachid by the vice president).

The National Institute of Indigenous Affairs (INAI), dependent on Alicia Kirchner, acts in line with Insfrán. Despite having valuable technical cadres, the struggling communities can expect nothing from a body that only functions as a barrier to contain their original claims.

But the clearest, and saddest, evidence is the silence of the President. He never referred to the subject in public, he never received Roberto López's family. Not even the prolonged encampment on 9 de Julio Avenue or the hunger strike have prompted a presidential gesture.

“The current genocide of indigenous peoples is no longer with weapons. It is produced by making them invisible, omitting, letting them die, it is a genocide by omission ”, stated in 2008 the Supreme Court Minister Raúl Eugenio Zaffaroni.

United against the Qom

Rainy. Saturday, April 30. The death of Ernesto Sábato marks the media agenda. On May 1 there are no newspapers. Journalistic guards are at a minimum.

The Misconduct Justice of the City of Buenos Aires issued an order early in the morning to release the court on 9 de Julio Avenue. In an event with little precedent, the Ministry of National Security immediately gave the green light for the Federal Police to be present at the scene. More than one hundred troops were posted to free the traffic, in front of indigenous people who were beginning their sixth day of hunger strike.

There was no agreement and neither the claim nor the hunger strike was lifted. Only the common sense of the community prevailed, which, by clearing the street, avoided repression. “They warned us that they were going to run us by force and then they were going to take us prisoner. The fight continues ”, explained Félix Díaz.

On April 26, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had asked the Argentine State to adopt a precautionary measure in favor of the Qom community. The Commission urged the Government to "adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity" of the Qom "against possible threats, attacks, or harassment by members of the police, the public force, or other state agents."

Four days later, the Government did the opposite: it sent a hundred troops to vacate 9 de Julio Avenue.

The Vice Minister of Security, Cristina Caamaño, acknowledged to her closest collaborators that "there is no order (from the Presidency) to negotiate" with the Qom. “If they don't release July 9, they will be arrested. If they go up to the plaza, there will be no arrests ”, affirmed a very close collaborator of the vice minister and former prosecutor, of note work to investigate the murder of Mariano Ferreyra.

"Distinta vara" often call some journalists. The national government welcomed Mariano Ferreyra's family and used its entire structure to seek justice. The alleged material and intellectual actors of the murder are already in prison.

He never received the Qom Roberto López's family. In the scandalous judicial case for the repression of Formosa there are about twenty precessors: all from the Qom La Primavera community. No police, no gendarme, no official of the Formosan government.

Gildo Insfrán has been governor since 1995. And he is already running for a fifth term. He was a Menemista, a Duhaldista and, since 2003, a staunch defender of the Kirchnerist model.

The comfortable job of hiding

"Journalism is to spread what someone does not want to know: the rest is propaganda." It is one of the many definitions that circulate among journalism students. It is awarded to half a dozen journalists, but most of the time they cite Horacio Verbitsky as the author.

The repression of the Qom People exposed the journalism of the mainstream media.

Television channels, radios and newspapers close (or uncritical) to the Government approached the repression as a confrontation, a modern adaptation of the theory of the two demons. Later, when reality could no longer be hidden, they pointed to the provincial government as the only political leader. That was the limit. In these five months, rarely (very few) these media pointed to the complicity of the national government in the days that followed the repression.

In contrast, the media that clearly act as opposition parties (especially after 125 and the Media Law) targeted the Insfrán-Cristina Fernández alliance from the outset. But they never cited the background of the repression: the current agricultural model, which advances with soy, clearings, evictions and also forces the movement of the cattle frontier. They do not point out this reason because these media are a fundamental gear in the development, consolidation and advancement of this model.

Journalism is no longer important for what it says, but for what it hides.

The “militant journalism” of the Télam news agency is a witness case of current journalism. Télam censored on Sunday the 17th an article on peasant evictions by an experienced colleague. It was only published on Monday the 18th, after the colleague kicked in doors, argued and demanded that his work and career be respected.

On Wednesday April 27, after countless obstacles to carry out her daily work, the journalist specialized in indigenous peoples announced that she would stop writing on the subject until further notice. Since 2001 he has dedicated himself to meeting, visiting and listening to indigenous communities. A decade of visiting the territory and giving testimony about the indigenous reality of Argentina. She did not explain why she made that painful decision (for herself and the communities), but anyone who receives the dispatches from Télam can imagine why.

On April 19 at 8:48 p.m., the Télam agency released the cable titled "Insfrán participated in a multi-ethnic meeting and inaugurated works." He reported that 6,000 aborigines cheered him on and, as a sign of that affection, he contributed supposed sayings of indigenous people: “We have improved a lot in all these years, and that is due to the sensitivity of a popular government that knew how to interpret the needs of the peoples. original ”.

The last paragraph leaves no doubt. "(The indigenous people considered that) it has been precisely the justicialist government of the nation and the province who have fully vindicated our rights."

As journalists we have the right not to sign the articles that we are asked to write but with which we do not agree, either by editorial line, edition or, also, because the information is not true.

The Telam cable was not signed by the editor.

“One thing is to figure out where we get the money to pay the expenses and another is to do journalism. I think we should not confuse one with the other. In this profession turning your back on reality has a price. Not giving it, too, ”says an old text from the La Vaca journalistic cooperative, where a definition is also at risk. "Say what needs to be said and tell what needs to be said: that's what a journalist has to do wherever they can."

And leave, for a moment, in the background the role of journalistic companies. “Are we going to continue claiming due obedience to keep telling what doesn't happen and hiding what happens? (…) Let us stop supporting, at ever lower prices, these garbage jobs, because we run the risk of becoming garbage ourselves. "

The game to the right

Many criticisms of the National Government are reversed with, more or less words, "you play the game to the right."

The repression of the Qom People was a personal breakdown. The impotence of not being able to write where it was always downloaded in an opinion text ( that was circulated among friends and colleagues. As never before, there were responses that accused of being "functional to the right."

Five months after that text, and considering the actions of the Government, those who play the game on the right are those who silence repressions and are accomplices, by action or omission, of murders.

There is no government action (however just and revolutionary it may be –and this Government has taken several–) that can compensate for complicity in the face of the bloodshed of the popular camp.

"You cannot talk about human rights and support a governor who represses and kills indigenous brothers," warned Nora Cortiñas, from Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Fundadora Line, last March at the Faculty of Exact Sciences of the UBA.

Eduardo Galeano visited the Qom camp. And he was less diplomatic: “(The indigenous people) have a voice, but they are the unheard, who are precisely the ones who are camping here now, surrounded by general contempt, almost silence, to whom the Government does not give the slightest ball. , when they should be the first in line, long before all the politicians looking for pieces of power.

Human rights

Kidnapping of people. Baby theft. Torture Concentration camps. Missing

The indigenous peoples of Argentina suffered exactly the same as the victims of Nazism and the victims of the last military dictatorship.

But his genocide is still denied.

“The regime that implemented the military campaigns in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that defeated indigenous autonomy, by dint of massacres, to consolidate the national state, never fell. There is continuity to our present, ”explains historian and researcher Walter Delrío, co-director of the Network of Studies on Genocide in Argentine Indigenous Politics.

The Study Network affirms that even today a process with genocidal practices weighs on the original peoples of Argentina. Yesterday it was bullets, slavery and murders. Today it is the territorial advance on the communities, evictions, repression, deprivation of forms of subsistence, hunger, discrimination and forgetfulness.

28 years after the 1976 coup d'état, the national government decided that the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA), the largest clandestine detention center, would be handed over to human rights organizations, which created a space for the memory of never again.

130 years after the start of the Desert Campaign, indigenous peoples do not have any similar space. On the contrary, the main emblem of that military advance, Julio Argentino Roca, has numerous streets and schools with his name, and there are monuments that resemble the last straw: in the center of Bariloche, in the middle of Mapuche territory, a statue of Roca stands stands defiantly. It is impossible to imagine a statue of Jorge Rafael Videla in Plaza de Mayo.

In 1994, Law 24,411 was enacted, which establishes that the State must pay the families of the murdered and disappeared compensation for the State terrorism suffered. No type of compensation or reparation was ever raised for the victims of the indigenous genocide.

En la actualidad, la sistemática violación de derechos humanos de pueblos indígenas no escandaliza a la opinión pública. Incluso es negado por un sector de intelectuales, políticos, comunicadores y referentes de opinión.

Las víctimas del genocidio indígena no fueron (ni son) sectores urbanos, ni clase media.

La negación tiene raíces étnicas y de clase social. Y, sin duda, económicas. Los distintos modelos productivos del último siglo y medio (agroexportador, petrolero, forestal, minero) tuvieron como escenario gran parte de los ancestrales territorios indígenas.

Para los pueblos originarios no hubo un “nunca más”.

Darío Aranda, Mayo 1, 2011- Argentina –

Video: A brighter future through indigenous prosperity: Gabrielle Scrimshaw at TEDxToronto (July 2022).


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