Greenpeace alleges political collusion behind illegal deforestation for soy in Argentina


Greenpeace activists stopping bulldozers in Salta Photo: Greenpeace Argentina

Greenpeace has accused Alejandro Jaime Braun Peña, a politically-connected businessman, of illegally clearing a native forest in the province of Salta for soy cultivation.

Braun Peña’s Cuchuy farm has deforested more than 400 hectares since early December. In total, over 5,000 hectares have been cleared since 2014.

Salta’s provincial government had previously placed the forest in question under categories of its Native Forests Territorial Registry that ban deforestation. The forest is also protected by Argentina’s National Forest Law.

However, Salta’s governor, Juan Manuel Urtubey, is reported to have reclassified 8,962 ha of the area to allow deforestation. According to Greenpeace, the governor’s decision, which is illegal under the National Forest Law, followed a request made by Braun Peña.

Despite this reclassification of the area by the provincial government, it continues to be protected by other articles of the National Forest Law, as well as the Indigenous Territories Emergency Law.

The Cuchuy farm is located in the San Martín department, 70 kilometres from the city of Tartagal. The area is home to the Wichi indigenous people. Greenpeace has warned that four Wichi communities – Cuchuy, San José, Corralito and Chaguaral – could be illegally displaced and have their livelihoods and sacred places affected by the farm’s activities. Since 2012, the Wichi have denounced being placed under pressure by farmers to agree to deforestation in the area.

Hernán Giardini, of Greenpeace Argentina, said: “These forests, in addition to their enormous biodiversity, are the home, warehouse and pharmacy of indigenous communities. It is a crime to destroy them”. He added: “when it comes to forests there is a kind of illegal collusion between the provincial government and businessmen […] who are relatives of officials at the national government”.

Braun Peña has said that his farm’s activities have been authorised by Salta’s government and comply with municipal, provincial and national laws. The provincial government has also stated that land-use changes at Cuchuy are in compliance with national environmental legislation. In response, Greenpeace has reiterated that deforestation at Cuchuy is illegal under Article 14 of the National Forest Law.

According to the organisation, Braun Peña is a cousin of the federal government’s chief of staff and a director in several businesses belonging to the family of Argentina’s president.

Salta’s governor has been accused of illegally authorising the deforestation of 144,984 hectares of protected forests in the province.

More from Blog

Sanctions breached / Evidence of laundered Russian plywood found by EU investigation

Continue reading
Russian Sanctions / US sanctions should cover blood timber

Continue reading
Paraguayan leather / Are Italian tannery’s pledges on deforestation enough?

Continue reading
EU Deforestation Regulation / Success of landmark deforestation law far from assured 

Continue reading
EU Law / MEPs must strengthen planned corporate sustainability due diligence law

Continue reading
G7 Sanctions / Cash from "conflict timber" still flowing into Russia and Belarus

Continue reading
Interview / Earthsight spoke to Andrei Sannikov about the urgent need for strong sanctions on Russian and Belarusian timber

Continue reading
Indigenous rights / “We are in mourning, but we carry on with our struggle”

Continue reading
EU Policy / EU agrees on much needed landmark law, but work still needed to fully protect forests and communities

Continue reading
FSC / Crucial reforms blocked by industry actors

Continue reading

Stay up to date with all Earthsight news & updates

Receive email updates for the latest news and insights from Earthsight and be among the first to read our new investigations.

We keep your data secure and don’t share anything with third parties. Read full terms.