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Corrientes is the Argentinean province with the largest surface of forestry monoculture plantations. The neoliberal policies of the 1990s and the legal framework and government support that continues to promote forestry plantations lead to a “legion of trees” to grow at a pace of 5,000 hectares a month.
“When studying the local work and development generated by the traditional productive activities, such as family farming and cattle growing in Corrientes province, we see that our peasants produce food to feed themselves and to sell at the market, while they create a job every six hectares of land. Meanwhile, companies like Harvard (the US university) through forest monoculture plantations generate only a job every 300 hectares of land”, Emilio Spataro of Movimiento Guardianes de Ibera told Friends of the Earth Argentina.
Spataro says the “environmental damage, the sacrifice of the territory and the state support are disproportionate” and there is barely any productivr benefit. “All this so that universities like Harvard or companies from other countries get high revenue in a very short time and earn money through speculation”.
The coordinator of Guardianes de Ibera added that this situation is not exclusive of pine plantations, but it is also the case of rice companies. “They do not produce food but assets, with which they speculate, developed by the big capital, like George Soros or Madame Beaux foundations”, he said. “It is big rice corporations that use huge amounts of agrotoxics and water, so they have a huge environmental impact and just as is the case with forest plantations, they do not create many jobs”.
Spataro also regretted that “in that scenario there is no place for the Guarani or peasant communities, for the development of small municipalities”. This is part of the problem that has made Corrientes province become the country’s poorest.
In mid December, a team of Friends of the Earth Argentina travelled to Corrientes as part of the campaign Stop Harvard! to raise awareness about the environmental and social destruction the US university is causing in Argentina.
Spataro said that for hundreds of years San Miguel department had thousands of hectares of wetland and fertile land for food production and herding. However, in less than a decade, pine and eucalyptus plantations took over the land.
Adrian Obregon, a representative of Family Farming Organizations of Corrientes told FoE Argentina that about a mile from the house there are monoculture plantations that belong to Harvard University (the company is called Las Misiones).
He told FoE Argentina how forestation has left the historic residents of the area without underground water and how this affects the paths, health, education, and its consequences on traditional lifestyle.
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