Featured image: Young people from Jujuy throwing stones at the police during the protests. Source: La Nación
In San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina, they have been protesting for weeks against the reform of the Provincial Constitution that will leave indigenous people without land to make mega-projects for the extraction of lithium for foreign companies. In addition, the people are suffering a great repression by the provincial security forces. Many cases of abuse of force by the Police have been denounced, including violations of the so-called human rights.
Argentina is one of the countries with the largest lithium reserves, approximately 20.5% of world reserves. Currently, lithium is one of the most used elements in the industry by batteries, among other products. That is why the monopoly companies of the imperialist countries, in this case Toyota or Allkem, have a lot of interest in these lands and is expected to continue increasing these projects in Argentina. The president of the country wants to multiply by 10 the production of lithium in the Latin American country. It is for this economic interest for which a change in the Provincial Constitution is being raised on the table to be able to grant these lands to foreign companies by plundering them from the indigenous Argentine people. Therefore, the struggle for the land in Argentina will continue to be one of the hot spots of the country’s struggles.
The constitutional reform that has caused the most indignation to the people has been that of article 36. In this article about the “right of private property” there are added “mechanisms and fast ways” for land eviction, as the “not consented occupation” is considered “a serious violation”. The problem is that a large number of communities living in the mining area and where lithium deposits are, around 300 communities are found. They have no title over their lands and therefore not any right with this constitutional change. In front of this, the indigenous people have been in the streets for weeks protesting this reform that denied property over their ancestral lands.
Together with the indigenous people, a large number of teachers, who ask for a salary increase, have joined the protests. Argentina is now one of the countries with one of the highest inflation rates, as we report in another article. And seeing that the protests was started by the indigenous people, the teachers did not hesitate to join and take part in the protests together. Teachers have met with the head of the Government who has already made a proposal for salary improvement, but it has been rejected since it does not reach the minimum demanded by workers and therefore they are continuing the struggle. A striker said: “It was unanimously voted against the offer as it was insufficient, because our members understood that to reach that figure, background items were modified. The strike continues, we are open to dialogue and we clarify that the demand against the reform of the Constitution persists ”
The reform that has been carried out, and that has also been one of the reasons for the protests, has been related to protest rights. With the new reform, approved with almost full unanimity, it is forbidden to occupy buildings to be able to make social pressure during the protests. Therefore, the right to strike and protest is being reduced, since the temporary occupation of a property, such as a company or a public entity, is a weapon that protesters have in the struggle.
During the protests, severe repression by the police and security forces has been denounced. Threats with weapons, controls and arrests even far from the areas of the demonstrations, dozens of arrests, blows and bad treatment during arrests, use of unidentified vehicles, raiding of homes and individuals without court order, police infiltrations among the protesters and even rubber bullet in the face, which has caused a 17 years old girl to lose an eye while the police tried to clear a manifestation at a crossroads.