On Thursday, December 5 at 9am, community organizations in rural Argentina began protesting the expansion of Harvard University’s timber plantations into the world’s second largest wetlands, Esteros del Iberá, and the endangerment of the rights and livelihoods of nearby communities.
The action follows the October release of a report by the student-led Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition and the California-based Oakland Institute titled, “Harvard in Iberá,” detailing the impact of Harvard’s investments in Corrientes, Argentina, where the University fully owns and operates two timber companies, EVASA and Las Misiones, valued at $55.2 million.
Grounded in interviews with local residents, the report concluded that the plantations interfere with local land use, damage the local roads and water supply, cause long-term soil degradation, and pose public health risks. Scientists cited in the report point to mounting ecosystem damage and encroachment into Esteros del Iberá, the protected wetlands bordering the plantations.
News of these destructive practices was widely reported in Bloomberg, BusinessWeek and Argentina’s two leading newspapers, Clarín and La Nación. Under mounting pressure, Harvard’s companies have attempted to intimidate vocal community members.
Your support is urgently needed to halt these intimidation tactics and meet the demands of Corrientes community members to:
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; and
3) Comply with all legally required employment practices.
These demands are endorsed by 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
- Sign the Avaaz.org petition “Harvard: Stop destroying the Iberá Wetlands!”
- Contact organizers in Corrientes now at firstname.lastname@example.org to join mobilization efforts on December 5 and in the coming weeks.
- Join Guardianes del Iberá and the Responsible Investment at Harvard Coalition