Argentina: Supreme Court orders retroactive halt to deforestation in Salta Province!
Argentina’s Supreme Court has ordered a temporary halt to
deforestation across most of the north and west of Salta province.
This is quite an extraordinary turn of events, and has come as the
result of coordinated actions between several indigenous and peasant
organizations, the Catholic Church and ASOCIANA. The mere fact that
the issue was the main headline in the local paper (see below)
underlines the relevance of the decision and its political and
economic implications for land owners and government authorities.
ban is back dated to the first quarter of 2007, when the provincial
government expedited deforestation permits prior to the introduction
of a new federal law designed to protect Argentina’s remaining native
forests. ASOCIANA helped to reveal this fact through a study which was
published earlier this year. The Court has ordered the government of
Salta to produce a list of all people and companies who have requested
and obtained deforestation permits since the end of 2007. It has 30
days to do this. On the 18th of Feb the Supreme Court will host a
public enquiry on the issue of deforestation in Salta, in which all
parties will be invited to make their case (either for or against
deforestation) before the Court. This means ASOCIANA has its work cut
out for the next 6 weeks! This decision by the Court has come just as
Salta is in the midst of introducing a watered-down version of a
provincial law that was originally intended to protect forests. As
mentioned in an earlier blog, legislators, influenced by land owners,
had effectively nullified the effects this law was meant to have. The
Supreme Court´s decision marks an unexpected end to a very troubled
year in as far as indigenous land rights and deforestation were
concerned. At the same time, it creates some new and very interesting
opportunities for next year. Because the public enquiry will be held
in Buenos Aires, indigenous people now have a much greater opportunity
of influencing public opinion than they have ever had before.