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The peasant walk

Date interview: September 9 2016
Name interviewer: Santiago Garrido
Name interviewee: Anonymous
Position interviewee: Member of APENOC. Participant of the march

Values Social movements Social-spatial relations Social-ecological relations Re-orientation Radicalization Lobbying Identity Civil Society organizations Challenging institutions

This is a CTP of initiative: La Via Campesina/APENOC (Argentina)

This CTP refers to the realization of a great march organized by different peasant organizations of the province of Córdoba, among which the participation of APENOC was highlighted. The march was carried out during 6 days touring different towns from different zones to close in the provincial capital with the delivery of an order of interview with the governor:

"So the tours were made those 6 days; We went for each town and in each stop we show our products, we project documentaries and we tell why we walked. We visited schools, institutions of each place where we arrived, telling us who we are."

About 300 peasants mobilized in the march, which in some cases had to cover more than 250 kilometers. "The peasant walk in defense of life" also served to support the local version of the Forest Law, the project that aimed to curb the clearing and preserve what remains. Córdoba holds only 5% of the native forest that it knew to have, and the clearing has not been stopped to grow soybeans or build countries, despite the laws in force. Strictly speaking, those who dismantle include fines on "investment risks", and recover the money in the sale of grain or the commercialization of closed neighborhoods. The peasants called for "suspensions of evictions and approval of the forest law elaborated by the Commission for the Spatial Planning of the native forest", among other requirements related to basic human rights, such as access to water and health.

This march was a significant event in the history of APENOC because it was one of the main actions carried out in articulation with all peasant organizations in the province of Cordoba. Also, this action allowed the Cordoba`s peasant movement to achieve great public visibility in the cities where their claims were very invisible. According to the members of APENOC:

"The peasants produce food, but these are not reaching the cities, the agribusiness arrive and this goes through several concrete economic factors, to name two; One is the distance that separates us from where we produce and the other is the invasion of agribusiness products"

"When we start thinking about this walk what we think first is that it is a lot of effort, it is many days. Walking mainly represents going village by town saying `we are peasants', not the countryside where they will cut routes with 4x4 and large trucks, but we are peasants who work in the countryside. It is a symbolic form, a way of showing the struggle, something peaceful. I think it is very demonstrative to walk so many kilometers, so many days, to make this visible. I do not know if this type of peasant walk has ever been done in Cordoba, if at any point in the history of Cordoba this has happened. We saw it as a very visible, peaceful way of showing us. We hope that in fact we are many, we will be among 300 peasants walking, and not only peasants, but people, acquaintances who live in the city who are going to join our struggle."


The peasant march of Cordoba was developed in the framework of a process in which the actions of protest of the peasant movement in the province and the whole Argentine north were increasing. In the specific case of the march carried out in 2010, it was directly related to the debate of the Law of territorial organization of Native Forests of the province that was finally sanctioned in May 2010.

This law was debated by the provincial legislature to adapt the legislation to the National Law of Native Forests that was sanctioned in February 2009 by the National Congress. This law was boosted in the face of the sustained expansion of the agricultural frontier over lands previously marginal to commercial agriculture. The advance of the clearing of native forests generated serious environmental risks and social conflicts with the traditional inhabitants of these lands. Thus, a process of co-production can be observed between the transformations experienced by agricultural production in Argentina, based on the incorporation of transgenic crops, high international prices of agricultural commodities such as soybean and maize, the progress of the clearing and with The demands of social and environmental organizations and the generation of new regulations (national and provincial) aimed at the protection of native forests.

These laws committed the provincial states to make a territorial order of the province to define different categories of conservation of native forests. Likewise, the availability of public funds was guaranteed to develop different sustainable management plans appropriate to each area. The farmers' organizations made several steps during the debate of the provincial law to ensure that their productive practices are included among the proposed alternatives and thus to access new sources of financing.

For the peasant organizations, the new legislation presented a new opportunity to consolidate its position. For this reason, they organized the march to make their claims visible and for the legislators to listen and incorporate their proposals.

Related events

The Native Forests Law of the province of Cordoba elicited a long process of discussions. For more than two years, a group of heterogeneous actors (agricultural producers, students, teachers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, technicians) worked hard to draft a Forest Law project that reflected the interests of the different sectors involved, achieving Consensus and also follow the spirit of National Law 26331 of Minimum Budgets for the Protection of Native Forests.

There was a rich and unprecedented participatory process that had two instances: the Commission for the Spatial Planning of Native Forests created by the Environment Secretariat and the Ecological Affairs Commission of the provincial Legislature.

However, the interest of a minority but powerful sector, related to the agribusiness and the real estate business, prevailed to the detriment of the majority of the Cordoba´s people. Lawmakers bypassing the social claim passed a law that was nothing like the original bill. In this way, they left without protection the little surface of native forests that still has the province.

On August 10, 2010, the Superior Council of the National University of Río Cuarto unanimously filed a declaration of unconstitutionality to Law 9814. In late 2010, the University filed this request with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation. For the year 2009 in Cordoba there were only 500 thousand hectares of Forests of the 12 million that the province use to have.

In the absence of a territorial reorganization, large extensions are acquired through public deeds or with maneuvers such as entering the countryside and taking advantage of the lack of protection in which the families of peasants live. On the other hand, another problem related to CTP is that thousands of peasants are already forming part of the urban poverty strings. According to APENOC, "As a peasant organization, we believe that the only way to reverse this situation is to fight, to direct action." Likewise, the problem of access to health is dramatic. Insulation deaths, poor diagnoses, lack of medicines and equipment are commonplace. Faced with this demand the application of Primary Health Care plans. All these issues are related to the CTP, while the march sought to give visibility not only to the territorial problem that the Forest Law implies, but to the problems that are experienced daily in the territories.


The march itself was a clear process of contestation in which the rural organizations of Cordoba sought to raise their position in relation to the debate of the provincial law of land management of native forests. The law in question represented a great challenge for peasant organizations as it opened up a concrete possibility of resisting the advance of commercial agriculture on their lands.

In this way, the march and discussion of the law showed a tension that had already existed for more than 20 years and that was aggravated in the last decade between peasant production and the so-called agribusiness.

In the framework of the march there was a concrete controversy with the governor of the province Juan Schiaretti because the latter did not receive them. Faced with the peasant claim, the provincial administration issued a press release stating that it had never received a formal request for an interview. However, peasant organizations issued a note which they had submitted on 27 April with their corresponding processing number. The letter had been entered by a table of entries from the General Secretariat of the Interior, but despite this and the harsh reality of the 10,000 families living in the countryside of Cordoba, it did not materialize.


The members of APENOC tell how they were planning this march:

"For two years we have been thinking about it; We got to work in the middle of 2009. The first thing we did after we all got together as organizations in February, was talk with the people who coordinated, with commissions in charge of each thing so that it is guaranteed. The march did not begin the moment we start walking, but from the beginning of the year, by making leaflets, by preparing symbols, by starting to chat with schools. We started to chat with all the schools in the nearby villages, for primary and secondary schools, telling us why we walked. Begun to promote it and make it visible to the walk, other than the walk from the moment we start walking, but come from before and let people know what we are going to do."

The march was thought as a way of representing the peasants, who are the ones who walk the territory. It was thought of as a symbolic form of struggle, something peaceful. According to the peasants of APENOC:

"I think it was very demonstrative to walk so many miles, so many days, to make this visible. I do not know if this type of peasant walk has ever been done in Cordoba, if at any point in the history of Cordoba this has happened. We saw it as a very visible, peaceful way of showing us."

That march also had as antecedents the marches made by the Campesino Movement of Santiago del Estero (MOCASE), which usually march "for land, Water and forest", mainly the great Land March that in 2004 when the peasant claimed to the state and economic power for they rights. The march arised in the context of a law that seekeds to ignore the debate and aimed to reduce the 6 million hectares of protection recommended by the Commission of Land Management of Native Forests to 4 million. Also, that was part of serious events suffered from the worst floods in the history of the province, which caused deaths and losses of thousands of homes. In that context the people of Cordoba have begun to maintain that "the forest is the life" and to organized itself in consequence. This CTP is part of that organization.


Learnings were emerging in action during the CTP. The members of the APENOC incorporated learning about issues that make the defense of the territory.

Also the march was a learning for all Cordoba´s society that joined the defense of Native Forests. In this sense it was made clear that the native forests are not a problem for development but historically the civilizations were developed thanks to them that were and are sustenance of life. In the case of northern Cordoba it was a livelihood for the Comechingones and Sanavironas indigenous communities, and continues to be the raw material and sustenance for thousands of beekeepers, charcoal producers, loggers, gatherers, ie farmers.

A learning that comes out of this CTP is what is at stake in the defense of forests and territory, and that the ecological possibilities that gives the north of the province are incompatible with a certain model that advocates pesticides and monoculture . Eliminating the largest forest cover in the province would result in loss of soils and a high level of desertification. In this sense, the visibility of this problem forces us to ask ourselves how we relate to nature and what productive models we will endorse as a society. And this is linked to the question of what it means to work for a sustainable management of forests and how the Forest Law provides not only a legal framework, but a fundamental tool to protect forests from a different dimension, where the territory is not understood alone As a natural space but as a socially constructed space.

However, the solution proposed by the National Forest Law increases one of the most deeply rooted problems in Argentina's history: concentration, overvaluation and land tenure.

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