Over two weeks ago, the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition delivered a letter from Harvard’s Argentinian neighbors to President Faust. We have not yet heard back from the administration, although the letter asked for a response within 15 days.
You can see the original letter (in Spanish) on the website of the Guardines del Ibera here, and read the English translation below:
Dear President of Harvard University Drew Faust:
We are writing to you about our struggle to preserve our way of life as representatives of the communities near Harvard University’s forestry plantations in northeastern Argentina.
As residents of these communities, we live from what we cultivate – from what our land offers us. And we want our healthy, sustainable lifestyle to be respected.
Unfortunately, your university’s lands are dedicated to an exploitive and extractive activity that is the worst enemy of our communities and our ecosystems. You are leaving our territory in poverty and forcing us to leave our homes. You are denying us our dignity and our culture.
It is for these reasons that we are asking you to do the following:
1) Stop expanding the plantations until completing a participatory study of their environmental and community impacts.
2) Remove all plantations within 2,000 meters from our communities.
3) Comply with all legally required employment practices, which are currently being ignored.
Since these requests are urgent for the protection of our families and our communities, we expect you to complete them within 15 days. We are writing because we are hopeful that you will comply and accept your responsibility for Harvard’s lands in Corrientes.
La Asociación Departamental de Pequeñas Productores de San Miguel
Organización Ambientalista Guardianes del Ibera
Iglesia Católica de San Miguel
Foro de Organizaciones de Agricultura Familiar
Escuela de Familia Agrícola Ñande Roga (Nuestra Casa)
Grupo Ecologista Y Syry (Agua Que Corre), San Miguel
Grupo Mbarete (Fuerte), Chavarria
We still await a response to this letter from the Harvard administration.