Members of the Yaki Cachi Bajo Hondo indigenous community
have suffered harassment, threats and violent attacks by armed groups connected
to agribusiness interests in northern Argentina, according to Greenpeace.
In October 2014, the forest agency in Santiago del Estero
province authorised the
company Gran Hondonada S.A. to clear 3,692 ha of forest for soy production and
cattle ranching. The permit allowed the company to log territory claimed by the
Yaki Cachi Bajo Hondo. A month later, the same agency withdrew the permit
following complaints by the Santiago del Estero Peasant Movement (MOCASE-VC).
Despite the measure, Greenpeace, MOCASE-VC and the Yaki
Cachi Bajo Hondo have repeatedly denounced acts of armed
attacks against members of the community, arson and deliberate
attempts to contaminate the community’s only water well by dumping chemicals
into it. In several episodes of violence, women and children had guns pointed
at them and a member of the community was shot in the leg.
According to MOCASE-VC, in December 2015 community members
stood in front of bulldozers to
stop the destruction of their native forests. MOCASE-VC and the community have
also alerted the authorities for the illegal deforestation of 500 ha carried
out by the company after the permit was suspended.
A Greenpeace Argentina report alleges
that in May 2016, with a court order issued by the judge María Martínez Llanos,
police tried to forcibly evict families in the area.
Greenpeace Argentina has named Orlando Canido – owner of
Manaos, a fizzy drinks producer – as the businessman behind the project and the
illegalities committed. Canido has denied any responsibility for
the acts of armed violence committed against the community.
However, in late November 2016, a court in Santiago del
Estero ordered Canido
to stay at least 500 metres away from the community due to ongoing allegations
of his role in attempts to forcibly evict families.
Greenpeace has called on Argentine authorities to take
action to stop illegal logging in the area and acts of aggression against the
community. The organisation is conducting an ongoing campaign in support of the
community and calling on Argentina’s Congress to approve new
legislation to strengthen criminal sanctions for illegal