Felix Díaz, the indigenous leader of La Primavera Qom community in Formosa, was yesterday hit by a black 4×4 whilst riding his motorbike in what appears to have been a pre-meditated attack. The truck fled the scene before gendarmes were able to detain the driver.
Díaz survived the incident, which happened on Ruta 86, a few kilometres from his home in Laguna Blanca, but is currently in intensive care at the hospital in Laguna Blanca.
Speaking to the Red Latina Sin Fronteras about the attack, Díaz said: “It wasn’t an accident. It was because of our territorial claim. In Formosa it is common that those who demand their rights are killed. The governor and national government are responsible.”
It is alleged the truck belonged to the Celía family, a powerful land-owning family who are friends with Formosa governor Gildo Insfrán, and have been involved in the appropriation of territories the Qom community lay claim to. The family are alleged to have already been involved in violent episodes involving the community since the territorial dispute began in 2010.
The dispute hit a violent crescendo on 23rd November 2010 after four months of protesting the construction of a university on their ancestral lands, community members were violently removed by police and armed civilians. The incident resulted in the death of Qom community member Roberto López and policeman Heber Falcón. Police also burned the community’s makeshift homes, and took their belongings and identification cards.
Led by Díaz, the Qom brought their struggle to Buenos Aires, where they camped out on 9 de Julio and Av. de Mayo for months, bringing their territorial claim onto the public’s agenda.