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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Race
100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
31 Jul 2004
"Here we are with Harry Bresky’s office behind us, and we’re here to say, ‘Give it back, Harry.’ The Ava Guarani and Kolla communities have made an urgent appeal for international solidarity. We have heard the appeal, and today we act upon it." This is one of many lines in an educational skit delivered today on the steps of the office of the Seaboard Corporation’s President and CEO, Harry Bresky, in Brookline, MA. Over one hundred activists gathered to express their disgust about Seaboard Corp’s complicity in the displacement of the Ava Guarani and Kolla communities from Salta, Argentina and allowing brutal repression of those re-occupying their native land.
laloma.jpg
Though the indigenous struggle in Argentina was the focus of the action, people also spoke out about indigenous struggles in the US and all over the world. These statements were important in recognizing the mutuality of international solidarity and how much inspiration activists in the US can gain and how we can learn from indigenous struggles. Important connections were also made about Seaboard’s pork industry that is known for animal cruelty on a massive scale in their factory pork farms in the US, and about the corporation’s abuses of government subsidies, corporate welfare (public tax $) and tax cuts.

The action was in collaboration with the DNC2RNC march (http://RNC2DNC.org), which began a 258 mile march today at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention and will end up at the Republican National Convention in New York City. The goal "to move beyond the duality of electoral politics and to celebrate grassroots activism and community awareness" manifested itself today in the support of the Stop Seaboard Campaign (http://WoGAN.org/seaboard.html).

Background on the situation in Salta, Argentina:
Three indigenous communities in Salta are presently resisting the theft of their resources.

-- In 1996 Seaboard bought the sugar plantation and refinery, San Martín de Tabacal, introduced new "efficient" technology, and fired 6,000 workers who remain unemployed. The sugar plantation has destroyed what was once the most fertile and ecologically significant forest in Argentina, to plant cash crops of sugarcane and soy, at the same time displacing the indigenous community from their homes and livelihood.

-- When the Ava Guaraní, of Hipolito Yrigoyen, reoccupied their ancestral land, La Loma, last September, 2003, they were violently evicted at gunpoint. When their complaint was not heard by the provincial government, they marched to the national capital where they have continued the legal process for ownership of the land.

-- In March 2004, 37 families from the community of Banda Norte were forced to camp by the side of the road, after their homes and crops were bulldozed by the sugar company on an eviction order later nullified by a judge. However, the community is suffering the consequences of their crops lost (us$4,000 of damage) and defending themselves from the company’s offer to buy the land.

-- The community of Banda Sur confronted the company bulldozers with a human barrier and machetes to prevent the destruction of their crops. They have organized a collective soup kitchen and rotating shifts for the human barrier. They are pursuing the legal process of recognized ownership of the 180 hectares where they live.

For more photos, go to:
http://worcester.indymedia.org/news/2004/07/120.php

More information can be found here:
http://www.WoGAN.org/seaboard.html (in English)
http://www.alerta-salta.org.ar (mostly Spanish)

For news in Spanish on the situation in Argentina:
http://www.lavaca.org
http://www.argentina.indymedia.org
http://www.capenoa.org.ar
signs1.jpg
See also:
http://www.WoGAN.org/seaboard.html
http://worcester.indymedia.org/news/2004/07/120.php

This work is in the public domain.
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Comments

Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
"...presently resisting the theft of their resources."

"In 1996 Seaboard bought the sugar plantation and refinery..."

Who did they buy it from?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
from the local industry, according to wogan's website.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
So, if they bought the land from the local industry, what exactly was stolen?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
"what exactly was stolen?"

ummm, the entire continents of north and south america, for one thing?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
Oh. Okay. Both the North and South American continents. Got it.

So, after you've returned all your personal property to its rightful indigenous owner, where do you plan on being a refugee?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
01 Aug 2004
"indigenous" is a big word for a cop
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
02 Aug 2004
Good job in Boston, let's "ROCK" in New York. I rock in Rockland.
Captain Ho Ho
02 Aug 2004
I love Guy Incognito. Let's Rock and Roll.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
03 Aug 2004
' "indigenous" is a big word for a cop'

IndyMedia Response #452:

If someone points out something ridiculous you say, just call them a cop.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
03 Aug 2004
nah more like when anyone starts a pointless, semantic argument, they're a cop/troll, because that's pretty much the definition of trolling and that's the only reason cops and other rightists come here.
How Ironic. You are willing to protest for "indiginous people"
11 Aug 2004
You march for indigenous peoples of South America (whom you probably have never seen, and whose country you have never been to), yet you will NOT march for return of the land of the United States to its "indigenous peoples", the Native Americans? Looking at those photos, I would bet that many of you also consumed indigenous plants as well, like marijuana, peyote, and mescal distillates (tequila). Can you say HYPOCRITE?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
14 Aug 2004
What is the statute of limitations on seizing indigenous land?

If someone kills off the natives 300 years before I'm born, wtf do I care?
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
15 Aug 2004
Let us not forget that the Natives were killing each other off long before the white and black men arrived to join in the fray. Indian tribes waged barbaric wars against each other in order to gain hunting grounds. It seems that the white men and the black men (go buffalo soldiers!) were just following the precedent set by the natives.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
15 Aug 2004
Yes, Native Americans fought wars with each other. But there is a difference between war and genocide. The wars Native Americans fought with each other were often highly ritualized with low casualties. Although torturing captives was common among some tribes, so was adopting captives as members of the tribe. In any case, I don't believe that there are any cases where one Native American tribe attempted to completely exterminate another. Conquer perhaps. Exterminate no. Extermination was, however, the policy of the both the US government and many of the colonial authorities before the. Let's remember who invented biological warfare--the Puritan settlers in Massachusetts. They gave blankets they knew to be small pox-infected to a tribe that was supposedly their ally. And the US government has violated every single treaty it ever signed with a Native American tribe (and then has the hypocrisy to complain about Iraq violating treaties, including ones like the anti-nuclear proliferation treaties we also ignore). There are Indian tribes that no longer exist--particularly on the East Coast and in California. There are other tribes that just bearly exist. Groups like the Pequots (in Connecticutt) for instance still retain their name and the knowledge of their descent, but all their traditions have been wiped out. The Pequots are actually luckier than many tribes in this situation because they some income from casinos which they can spend to hire archaeologists to help them reconstruct their traditions.

As for what we owe Native Americans--obviously returning all the land that was once theirs in utterly impractical. I doubt anyone advocates that. Reparations of some form are still possible though. Those tribes that have been allowed to set up casinos are getting such reparations in a really watered down form. Of all the racial/ethnic groups in the US, Native Americans probably have the highest rates of poverty, drug addiction, and suicide. This is what happens when your culture is destroyed and your lands stolen--your society utterly shattered, with only a fragile social support network left. People fall into despair. And it's really hard for Indians to find good jobs, both because of racism against them and because of poverty/lack of a good education (the two tend to go together). What form should reparations take? That's complicated. My suggestions would be: More autonomy for traditional tribal governments. Recognizing their rights to their traditional hunting and fishing grounds (assuming they still leave near them and weren't deported, as (for instance) the Cherokees were). And financial payments to legitimate tribal governments (a lot of currently existing tribal governments do not have popular support, but instead the support of the US federal government). I don't think the money should for those payments should come from the average Joe or Jane's taxes either--they should come from the pockets of the wealthiest--the 1% of the population who were the main beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts. If (as some people are trying to do with those who profited from slavery) we can point to certain families and corporations who benefited from the dispossession and genocide of Native Americans, then the main burden of paying reparations should fall on them.

As for this situation in Argentina, it sounds like the Ava Guarani and Kolla are still living on their traditional lands (a situation still true in much of the Latin American rain forest). No one else has any legitimate claim to it. Many governments have ignored these traditional claims to land and allowed others to lay claim to them as their private property--but that doesn't make it legitimate. So, whoever sold the land to Seaboard, had no right to sell it since it wasn't theirs to begin with (whatever the law may say in that situation). Perhaps Seaboard deserves some compensation for being sold land that the seller had no right to sell--although I rather doubt Seaboard needs the money. In any case, they clearly have no right to the land.
The Indian Reality Office: Return the Land Now!
16 Aug 2004
The "biological warfare" that you speak of - namely, giving smallpox infected blankets to the indians is a myth developed by those who wished to besmyrch the name of Lord Jeffrey Amherst. The reality is that colonial settlers were not sophisticated enough medically to figure out how small pox is transmitted. I am amazed that you actually seem to believe that Indians were peaceful people and that somehow tribal wars were actually ritualistic pageants where nobody died. Tell that to the poor captive who was skinned alive. The reality is that Indian tribes were in a constant battle for power over their neighbors. The Iriquois are a perfect example. You state that they "adopted" their vanquished enemies. The reality is that they adopted their vanquished foe the same way that the Romans adopted their vanquished foe...they adopted them into slavery. Yet, you...as many others romanticize the indians as a peace loving people. They were vanquished as they had lived...by warfare.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
16 Aug 2004
Cowboy--read my post again. I said there were fewer casualties, not no casualties. I also explicitly said that many Indian tribes tortured captives. There were also cases where war captives were genuinely adopted though--this was sometimes done with white captives. Oddly enough, adopted white women captives given the option to leave and return to white communities often opted to stay with the Indians--which gives you a sense of the comparatively better condition of women among Indians. And, while some tribes were quite warlike (the Iroqois, the Lakota), others were quite peaceful (the Hopi for instance)--it's actually rather hard to make generalizations about an extremely culturally diverse group like Native Americans. I was not trying to romanticize Indians or say that they never killed each other in wars, etc. I was pointing out that there is a difference between war and genocide--that was pretty clearly the main thrust of that paragraph. As for the small pox blankets story being a myth--OK, I'm willing to believe that. It doesn't change the fact that white settlers tried to exterminate numerous Indian tribes. You're picking nits, but not contesting with the main point of what I said.
Re: 100+ Person Rally at Seaboard Corp. Office: Return the Land Now!
16 Aug 2004
I should note that my opinions are my own and don't necessarily represent those of the Boston IMC collective. I would hope it would be obvious that we all have our own opinions, but some people have assumed that editors speaking in a personal capacity are speaking on behalf of the collective and I wanted to be clear on the matter.