Argentina: Repression at the march to Lago Escondido, usurped by English tycoon Joe Lewis

By correspondent

On Wednesday, February 1, a mob of thugs employed by Englishman Joe Lewis savagely attacked MST comrades and other activists and journalists in the Seventh March for the Sovereignty of Lago Escondido, which has demanded the opening of public roads that lead to the lake since 2017.

Cele Fierr was wounded on her head / Foto: Alejandra Bartoliche

With an estimated fortune of 6 billion dollars, Joe Ted Lewis is among the 300 richest people in the world. With the complicity of both Peronist, Radical and Macrist governments, Lewis has illegally acquired at least 14,000 hectares of land in Patagonia, within which he denies public access to national heritage such as Lago Escondido. In addition to his gigantic mansion and recreation center, the property has its own power plant and airport that is not monitored by any national authority. It is a true British enclave in Patagonia.

Since March 2017, the Interactive Foundation to Promote the Culture of Water (FIPCA) has carried out annual marches to Lago Escondido to demand that public roads be opened to access the Lake, something guaranteed by the Civil Code and all Argentine legislation, which determines that rivers and lakes are in the public domain, and has been ratified by various rulings in favor of opening access to the lake. Yet Lewis keeps those public roads blocked and no authority has lifted a finger to liberate them. On the contrary, the national and provincial authorities, together with the repressive forces, act in collusion with the usurper.

In recent months, Lewis and Lago Escondido have gained notoriety from the leaks about secret meetings held in that property by various national judges, important businessmen, media managers and government officials.

This seventh march was organized in unity with dozens of organizations in the struggle for national sovereignty and to expel Lewis from Patagonia. It also rejected the presence of the English in Malvinas, and of the IMF that subjugates Argentina as a semi-colony.

The attacks by Lewis’ thugs were first seen at the main march, which they stoned, and more seriously against the group of comrades who entered the property through a public path towards the Tacuifí public road that gives access to Lago Escondido. There they were intercepted by the mob, which threw their horses on them and attacked them with clubs, injuring several comrades, including MST-FITU leader Cele Fierro.

The next day, declaring against the acts of violence along with the other wounded activists, Fierro declared: “Yesterday it was demonstrated what this British enclave in Patagonia means, there is a parallel State. The impunity with which they operate is thanks to the complicity of the political, economic and judicial powers. We hold the governor of Río Negro and the judiciary responsible for the integrity of our compañeros. We will continue fighting for our sovereignty and for public access to our territory.”

We appreciate the countless shows of support we have received. Far from intimidating the hundreds of social activists, human rights activists and various political organizations that were present at this activity, what happened gives us more strength to redouble our actions until Lewis and the British leave Lago Escondido, Patagonia and Malvinas.