Argentina: Stop the genocide

Monday 13 May 2013

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Authorship: Darío Aranda

Published: (Human Rights Observatory of the Indigenous Peoples) Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de los Pueblos Indígenas (ODHPI)

Canal: (Latin American Union of Rural and Agrarian Technicians) Unión Latinoamericana de Técnicos Rurales y Agrarios (ULTERA)

Type of document: Article

Language: Spanish

Theme: Indigenous peoples

Keywords: Human rights, Rights of the indigenous people, State, Genocide, Government, Institutions, International agencies, Indigenous peoples, Territory

Countries and Regions: Argentina

-  Model
-  Fear and struggle
-  Indigenous Summit
-  Genocide
-  “It is no longer tolerated”
-  Human rights
-  Maravilla
-  Reaction and silence

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Violence against the community Potae Napocna Navogoh (La Primavera), denunciations against governor Insfrán, the silence of the Lady President and the role of human rights agencies. The indigenous peoples of Argentina will march to Formosa.

“We have tried to reach to the Lady President and there was no answer. Silence represents an offense and humiliate us”. This questioning, with a sad tone but also with anger, came from one of the human rights referents in Argentina, Nora Cortiñas, from the Founding Line of Madres de Plaza de Mayo. This took place at the press conference which took place yesterday, where human rights institutions denounced the “genocide’ in Formosa, the “systematic violence” against the community Potae Napocna Navogoh (La Primavera) and demanded urgent steps from the National Government to stop violence. Amanda Asijak (wife of Félix Díaz), admitted to be afraid for what might happen to their children, and acknowledged that the Qom leader is evaluating to take a side step, although she also affirmed that both should continue in the struggle. In June there will take place an indigenous summit, with communities from all over the country, to take place in Formosa.

Last weekend the community once again occupied the headlines in the media after the son of Félix Díaz and Amanda Asijak received an attack. The press conference was a consequence of the new attack against the family of the Qom leader. The Chamber of the Peace and Justice Service was overcrowded with public. Journalists and militants filled the room. “This is a good signal” said the host, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who just pointed out the “serious situation faced by the indigenous in the country, in particular the Qom people from Formosa”. And he announced that they will be addressing the meeting as members of the “Guarantor Committee” that was formed (two years ago) within the framework of a dialogue committee acknowledged by the National Government.


Aldo Etchegoyen, from the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights (APDH), said that the “constant trait all over the country is the soya bean and mining border moving forward over the original peoples” and that this model “entails wounded, clearing and death”. He denounced that “both the Government as well as justice” are discriminating against indigenous people and recalled that there are laws (protecting their rights) but which are not fulfilled. He showed the example of Law 26.160, enacted in 2006, which suspended the evictions orders and instructed a territorial substitution. “But evictions continue”, he affirmed. He mentioned the fact that last April in Formosa took place the signing, in presence of the secretary of Human Rights of the Nation, Martín Fresneda, an intervention protocol to guarantee the integrity of the families in the community La Primavera. “Just a few days after the signing of this document, Abelardo (son of Felix and Amanda) received an attack. This is a new provocation by the government of Gildo Insfrán”, he said.

Fear and struggle

Amanda Asijak spoke softly but firm. Her words were what every was waiting for, to know about the health of her son and due to the versions on the future steps to be taken by Félix (according to a rumor it was said he will abandon his role as “qarashé”, a Qom authority). “I am very hurt for what happened to my son. This is not the first time, I am a mother, and it is very difficult. It is a huge sadness, and we are suffering”, these were her first words. She told about the fact that she has spoken with Felix and that she found him sad, wishing to “abandon the struggle”. She said that no decision was taken yet and that they will discuss about this as a family upon her return to Formosa. “I should say Felix to move on, and continue the struggle. To continue struggling for the land, health and water”, she said, but she also acknowledged that there “the struggle has taken many years and still we cannot find a concrete issue”. She recalled the repression suffered in 2010, and she admit to be scare for what might happen to her children, she recalled the “assassination” of her newphew (Daniel Asijak, last January – the community denounced an attack and the government of Formosa said it was “a traffic accident”–).

Amanda addressed the Gildistas leaders in the community, and “demanded” support to continue forward” and she asked several times “where are our rights””.

All along the ten minutes she was addressing the meeting she insisted in a fear: being afraid that something might happen to her children. And ended just as she has started, in a soft and firm voice by saying “Although the police might beat us, we should continue forward, we are not going to lower our arms, we are to continue struggling, as a Qom People, as an original people”. This was followed by a solid round of applause.


The Legal and Social Study Center (CELS according to its acronym is Spanish) is maintaining a difficult equilibrium. Acknowledged by its defense of human rights also for being close to the National Government, is dealing with the causes of the community from La Primavera. “This is an evidence of a complex and unfair situation”, concluded the lawyer of CELS, Federico Efrón.

He recalled that four legal causes are pending over the community, two for usurpation and two for the cutting of the way in 2010, that ended with the repression on November 23, 2010 and the assassination of the Qom grandfather Roberto López. During that day the police in Formosa attacked members of the community and set on fire about twenty houses. But a paradox of the justice in Formosa there are 23 Qom accused persons, including Félix Díaz and Amanda Asijak.

Efrón recalled that Félix Díaz was processed, two weeks ago, for “usurpation” of the community territory. He said “There is a chase war against Felix”, concluded.

Indigenous Summit

Verónica Hullipan, Secretary in charge of Relations with Original Peoples of CTA y of the Observatory on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ODHPI), warn that the criminalization of indigenous peoples is reiterated all over the country but that “Formosa is a paradigmatic case, where this subjugation cannot continue. She explained tht the situation of the violation of human rights is identical in the four peoples included in the province (Qom, Wichí, Pilagá and Nivaclé). “These four peoples are claiming collective rights, territory and their human rights are violated”, she expressed. She said that there are deaths resulting from avoidable diseases and for malnutrition and she regretted that in the community La Primavera exist “thugs with a face of an indigenous attaching those brothers and sisters engaged in the struggle”.

She pointed at an actor absent from the press conference. The National Institute for Indigenous Affairs (INAI) is the operator of the national government in Formosa, and it always acts in favor of Gildo Insfrán. The INAI should acknowledge Félix Díaz as the qarashé of the community, but it is following instructions from Insfrán and it is acting against Félix”, denounced the Mapuche leader..

She affirmed that “a gesture” is necessary from the national government towards the original peoples and she announced that indigenous communities from all over the country will meet ton June 3-5 in Formosa to demand respect for our rights and to provide a clear signal of support to the struggle waged by the four indigenous peoples in Formosa”.


Lorena Cardín is the external person to the Qom community having a deeper knowledge of Potae Napocna Navogoh (she has been accompanying it along twelve years, from the territory, on its struggles, happiness and sadness). She is also an anthropologist and a teacher at UBA. Cardin said “We are denouncing the genocide in Formosa”,and she began to explained that death resulting from TB, chagas and due to a lack of medical care are taking place..

And she pointed at the classical official arguments. She acknowledged that the province was a pioneer, in 1984, with a law that recognized indigenous rights. “Already 29 years have elapsed This achievement is not longer able to cover the situation faced by these four indigenous peoples living in Formosa”, she claimed and went into detailing that in the province there is a “total control” by Gildo Insfrán. She provided some examples: the ProHuerta (a national plan for family gardens under the umbrella of the INTA and of the Ministry of Social Development) has forbidden the delivery of seed to the community La Primavera.

The anthropologist went on saying that “In Formosa there is a structural violence”. And she launched a challenge: “Anyone willing to do so, can go there and see it with his/her own eyes”. But right away said: “Of course they don’t need to follow the tourist circuit orchestrated by the provincial government” (well known journalists visited the province guided by Gildo Insfrán and still today are praising Gildo’s management).

Cardín regretted not to be able to describe all the wealth existing in the community (for example the original language, cultura, knowledge) and she stressed the coertion exerted by the Government. But she ended with a wink: “That control isn’t perfect. It was not able to dominate Felix”.

“It is no longer tolerated”

Nora Cortiñas recalled two events linking the struggle waged by Qom. That morning of 2011 when La Cámpora acted as a force of confrontation (headed by Andrés Larroque) and evicted the camp located at Avenida de Mayo and 9 de Julio. And the election held in the community in which Félix Díaz was elected by a wide majority (over the former chief, Cristino Sanabria).

“Félix won the representation of the community, but he was never acknowledged by the national government. And the government allows this double command since they want to eliminate Felix. While the community is criminally attacked” said the mother from Plaza de Mayo, she regretted the lack of response from the Lady President and she said “What do we want? The end of the attacks. Violence cannot be tolerated any longer”.

Human rights

Pablo Pimentel, from APDH La Matanza, recalled that after the Qom camping in Avenida de Mayo the national government accepted the creation of a dialogue committee. He detailed that acts were signed and upon the request from the Government, it was accepted an election in the community to determine who was the authority and the speaker (whether Félix Díaz or Cristina Sanabria, an allied of Insfrán). “An election method was imposed that was not the proper for the community, with observers from the Nation and from the Province. But anyhow Felix was elected, but they don’t want to acknowledge his victory, they are trying to wear him off. They undermine the community and undermine the human rights institutions”, he denounced.

Pimentel recalled that in this dialogue committee, under the coordination of the Minster of the Interior, Florencio Randazzo, there were as well Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (during its launching its lady president was present, Estela de Carlotto). “Today they are not”, he regretted that. And he added: “Human rights are either defended or violated. And here is the second alternative: they are violated. We have to put an end to this silent genocide”.


Mirta Acuña de Baravalle, from Madres de Plaza de Mayo Línea Fundadora, was very brief in her comments. She regretted the violence against the Qom people and went straight to the fact: “Last week I watched on the TV the Lady President with Maravilla Martínez. And I asked myself: What about Félix Díaz?’. She has time for a bóxer but not for Félix. We should demand her to meet Félix”.

Reaction and silence

Yesterday in the afternoon a called was place to Felix Diaz from the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. He was informed that on May 22 he will be officially informed about the definition taken by the supreme tribunal regarding the claim by the community (last year a public hearing took place in the Court on the territorial conflict).

When this note was about to be finished no official contact has been made with the Qom leader to deal with the outstanding claims or with the violent actions endured by the Qom community..

See online : Stop the genocide

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