The claim in the street for the wetland law

Dressed like a bee –black tights, a black and gold striped bodysuit, a blonde wig with little antennas– Sebastián Martínez Ledesma, 38, from Rosario, jumps on the hood of a combi. Behind him is the annex building of the National Congress, where the deputies began to discuss the draft bills. Wetlands Law. A classic of the Palace and the Street: Outside, next to Sebastián and armed with a megaphone, a girl directs the group of demonstrators who, blocking the street, chant. Loud for those who meet on the second floor to hear.

–It’s going to end, it’s going to end, that business of burning! –they sing.

And later: “I knew / I knew / that the oligarchy burned the wetlands”

Environmentalists, residents of the Delta and social movements demonstrated in front of Congress against the lobbies that ten years ago stopped the sanction of a Wetlands law. With the mobilization they pressured, in addition and above all, so that the deputies give an opinion to one of the ten projects that are rotating in the chamber, a text agreed by more than 400 socio-environmental organizations, universities, producers and the scientific community. This project already lost parliamentary status twice to the invisible hand of the market and was presented again by Deputy Leonardo Grosso in February of this year. It’s File 75D.

The city of Buenos Aires has demonstrations every day. This was done with the Delta still smoking from the fires that have already consumed nearly 100,000 hectares, making the air unbreathable for days in cities like Rosario and Victoria. Over the weekend, a massive march on the bridge that connects the two towns ended up pushing the treatment of the projects into the parliamentary agenda.

The urgency was reflected in the call to gather in front of Congress: “There is no more time.” And it had effects on the integration of the march, which brought together activists from the middle sectors –the Multisectoral Wetlands, NGOs, movements of young volunteers for ecology– with workers from the popular economy, because the UTEP mobilized all its organizations . There were many members of cardboard cooperatives, as well as residents of suburban neighborhoods who are putting together the environmental workers’ branch of the movements: “No one is saved alone,” some of their posters said. He also mobilized the partisan left, such as the Partido Obrero and the MST: “Let capitalism burn, not the wetlands!” read one of their banners.

Fernanda and Daniel were among the first to arrive in front of Congress, just after 9 in the morning. Members of the Save the Wetlands organization traveled from Villa Constitución, Santa Fe province. Tall and thin, Daniel put on a catfish costume. He had made them his companion, who chose one of surubí.

“The smoke doesn’t let us breathe,” she said, “but it’s not what affects us the most. That is what the media show, the unbreathable air, but they do not say that the worst is not that, The worst thing is that the production model is not changed, because as long as it is not changed they will continue burning the wetlands”.

Daniel said that they are 50 years old and have never seen such a critical situation. “All our lives we grew up next to the river, and we know that livestock was always done on the Delta islands. But starting in the 1990s, with the soybean expansion, livestock farming on the islands ceased to be a family economy and became intensive. Soybeans occupied traditionally cattle fields, and then there was an effect on the islands: burning began to convert the mountains into pasture. Burning, embankments, cutting of rivers, drying of lagoons: anything goes for those who seek profit at any cost. This is what should be regulated. You cannot do any activity in a wetland

The concentration cut the corner of Rivadavia and Combate de los Pozos. At the door of the annex, the Multisectoral Wetlands, a reference in the Rosario struggle, unfurled a banner without preventing entry to the building but leaving a narrow passage, so that the advisors who were entering had a small corridor to enter. Holding a strategically placed end of the banner, Estefanía Villalba reminded each entrant: “Support File 75D!”

A group from the Multisector managed to enter the Annex, but the majority had to settle for waiting outside.

The role of social movements was less mediatic. It was focused, above all, on banking the stop, but the workers of the popular economy also added local reasons to the defense of the Wetlands Law. “Not only are there wetlands in the Delta, we also have them in the province of Buenos Aires. In Almirante Brown there is the Camino de las Flores, in Esteban Echeverría the Dardo Rocha lagoon, in Lomas de Zamora Santa Catalina. And everyone is under threat from the real estate business”, explained Diego Delfino, a member of Popular Ecologism, together with his colleagues from Somos Barrios de Pie. He added that the care of these wetlands generates jobs and that their protection is key because they function as lungs for urban areas.

Several referents of the organizations passed through the march, in principle the deputies of the social movements, such as Leo Grosso (Movimiento Evita) and Juan Carlos Alderete (Current Clasista and Combativa). Others were intermingled in the demonstration.

–If we don’t do something, they cook us like a fried egg –summarized Dina Sánchez, from the Darío Santillán Front, while reviewing a summary of the axes of the debate on her cell phone. The wetlands as a strategic resource, such as large freshwater reserves. The ecocide that the country is suffering, which had 1 million 300 thousand hectares affected by fires between 2020 and 2021. The bill of Humedales that obtained half sanction in 2013 and 2016, but was stopped in both opportunities. The importance of making an inventory of wetlands, provided in the project File 75D.

Gildo Onorato said that the youth militancy of the social movements is full with the environmental claim, “That is very good. I believe that Feminisms, Environmental Struggle and Popular Economy express the agenda of the 21st century, because traditional politics fails to fully represent it”.

A column of kids in their twenties, uniformed with green shirts, handed out plantable cards –with seeds–. For many it was their first confluence with the popular sectors of the neighborhood movements. “We have nothing to do with the organizations, we only do actions to defend the environment, we are volunteers,” Nicolás clarified while they distributed the cards with the logo of his space, El nuevo poeta.org

Although the march had a markedly young age skew, there were also people of all ages. Very humble neighbors, members of cardboard cooperatives of the MTE, mobilized to Congress from neighborhoods like Don Orione, in Almirante Brown, traveling on the Roca to Constitución. Elba Velázquez, 65, was one of them. She cardboard box, she said that she was marching “because protecting the environment and providing work are a combo.” “You have to defend what is logical,” she added.

Ivo Peruggino, from Multisector Wetlands, remarked that any project is not the same. “We support the consensus, which is a project of many years of collective work between the scientific and academic community, socio-environmental organizations and the people who inhabit the territories.”

“For more than a decade the project has been dilating and that has to do with certain interests and certain economic sectors of concentrated power that are making force so that this law does not come out. Particularly, the agribusiness, real estate and mining lobby. This project is a historic debt of Argentine politics to the people.”

Source: Pagina12

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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