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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Race
Indigenous Rights Activists Banned by Newton Court
28 May 2004
Activists Vow to Find Other Means to Reveal Abuses of Chestnut Hill based Seaboard
Corporation


In an early morning court hearing in Newton District Court on Thursday, April 18th,
Judge Dyanne J. Klein banned international activists Cha-Cha Connors and Kevin Ksen
from future demonstrations against Chestnut Hill based Seaboard Corporation’s Board
of Directors. The one-year stay-away order marks an escalation of the Boston area
campaign in support of the Ava Guarani and Kolla indigenous communities in Northern
Argentina. In recent months, these indigenous communities have been violently
removed from their ancestral land, physically threatened and harassed by Seaboard
employees.
CourthousewithSignSmall.JPG
This court decision was in response to two arrests made during an action by members
of the Worcester Global Action Network (WoGAN) and the Alerta-Salta Network, on
April 26th . At that time, activists sought to confront the owner and CEO of
Seaboard Corporation at the company’s yearly stockholder meeting being held at the
Sheraton Newton. Connors and Ksen along with two other activists, who have all spent
time in Argentina, entered the Seaboard Corporation’s annual shareholders meeting to
speak with the company’s owner who has refused to respond to repeated requests and a
national postcard campaign. The group was successful in confronting Bresky for over
10 minutes in April, challenging him on the company’s abuses and theft of indigenous
community land.

In addition to the stay away order issued by the Judge Klein, the court assessed
each defendant with $100 in court costs and 40 hours of community service. The
financial costs were fortunately covered thanks to the generosity of community
members living in the Worcester area that made ‘solidarity contributions’ as a way
towards sharing in the campaign and supporting those arrested. Both Connors and Ksen
have already stated they look forward to completing their community service in a way
that assists the community rather than destroying it like Seaboard Corporation is
doing.


The Seaboard Corporation story stands out in the world of capitalist profiteering
and abuses. Newton resident, H. Harry Bresky who receives $2 million dollars from
Seaboard Corporation as CEO and Board President is unique even among the top
national corporate elite given that he also owns nearly 75% of Seaboard Corporation.
From relatively unassuming offices at 822 Boylston Street in Chestnut Hill, Bresky
presides over an multinational empire with over 50 subsidiaries that stretch the
globe from Argentina to the Dominican Republic, Honduras Bulgaria and the U.S. with
$2 billion in yearly revenues.

In the land of fat cats and global exploiters Bresky should stand-out among other
Boston area capitalists, but Seaboard Corporation and the Bresky family have
remained unnoticed by many Boston area activists. A February, 1993 “Boston Business
Journal” article affirms this hidden world writing, “Try [to] find anyone in Boston
who has even heard of the family, and you draw nothing but blanks... The Breskys
have never held memberships with local Chambers of Commerce or positions on the
boards of local companies and nonprofit organizations." This purposeful near
invisibility has allowed Seaboard and the Bresky family to be able to avoid scrutiny
in the Boston area, despite major demonstrations in Argentina and an international
campaign against Seaboard that has included Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Earth
First.

In March, thousands took to the streets in Buenos Aries to confront Seaboard’s
corporate offices, demanding an immediate cessation of violence against indigenous communities and a return of ancestral land. Despite the ongoing organized efforts in Argentina, and a letter/postcard writing
campaign in the U.S., Seaboard and Bresky have refused comment. Asked by a
shareholder in April about the seriousness of the protests Bresky brushed aside the
inquiry by responding, “The area we own in Argentina is larger than the state of
Rhode Island and we only plant a small portion of it.”

When asked about the restrictions the courts have placed on them, Ksen and Connors
point back to the indigenous communities. “They are risking far more than us, and
are planning to again re-occupy their land knowing that Seaboard will most likely
once again have them violently removed. How can we stop when Seaboard and the
Bresky family is right here in the Boston area? While we have been banned from
speaking to Seaboard’s Board, we hope that others in the Boston and Newton area are
willing to join and support this campaign.

Two weeks ago, at the most recent protest in Buenos Aries against Seaboard/San
Martin del Tabacal, Horacio Guzmán, a spokesperson from the Ava Guarani thanked
activists from Worcester and Boston for bringing the Ava Guarani’s voices to
Seaboard Corporation’s doorway.

“On behalf of the Communidad Tabacal, thank you for supporting us. Thank you for
taking the initiative to talk with the owners of the Tabacal company [Seaboard].
You are putting in effort without being brothers and sisters from the same line and
we feel stronger thanks to your support. You give us more strength.

Thank you for the support you continue to give. In the name of the community
Tabacal, I am very appreciative and very proud of you… We thought that there were
bad “Yanquis” but now we see that there are also Yanquis of heart.

We will continue to struggle until the day the land is ours, and you will be
welcome. All the brothers and sisters who are helping our struggle will be welcome.
It has been such a long time that they have taken the land away from us, but it
will be ours again. Thank you, thank you for everything.”


Alerta-Salta, is an international group formed to stop Seaboard’s violence and
support Ava Guarani and Kolla efforts to secure the return of their ancestral land.
An international campaign is currently underway to pressure Seaboard to stop the
violence that has been directed against these indigenous communities and to meet
with them to respond to their requests for the return of their land.

More information in English and Spanish can be found at:

http://autonomista.org/tabacal.htm

www.alerta-salta.org.ar

www.foei.org/cyberaction/ava6.html

http://argentina.indymedia.org/features/pueblos
HarrysHouse2small.JPG
See also:
http://autonomista.org/tabacal.htm
http://wogan.org

This work is in the public domain.
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Comments

Re: Indigenous Rights Activists Banned by Newton Court
06 Jun 2004
Great work! keep it up.