Death threats and physical violence against Monsanto protester
Sofía Gatica, a former winner of the Goldman Environmental Prize, was attacked earlier this month, allegedly for her role in Argentinian anti Monsanto protests.
According to Gatica on the 20th November a man approached her at a bus stop, pointed a gun at her and said: “There are several ways of dying. Stop with Monsanto or I’m going to end your life and spread your brains by Malvinas Argentina.”
72 hours later Gatica was attacked by two men a few meters away from where she worked. She claimed that one man jumped on top of her and then kicked and beat her.
According to the police report the assailants did not steal anything and fled on a motorcycle shortly after the attack.
Gatica had been participating in a two-month occupation of a construction site in Malvinas, Argentina, where Monsanto planned to install a processing plant for genetically engineered foods.
The blockade has been in place 66 days and campaigners have said they will remain indefinitely.
GM Watch have reported that despite the threats on her life Gatica refuses to leave the Malvinas camp site and will continue to protest the new Monsanto plant construction in Argentina. There is now an armed guard stationed on her property.
“I didn’t want to have guards watching over me” Sofia told a local news channel. “I just want the people of Monsanto to leave me in peace.”
Gatica won the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for her environmental work with Madres de Ituzaingó Anexo. The Goldman Prize is the world’s largest prize for grass-roots environmentalists. Each of the winners, chosen from the planet’s six inhabited continental regions, demonstrate exceptional courage and commitment, often working at great risk to protect our environment.
Gatica formed the group in her local community which bordered a soy growing area.
“The Mothers of Ituzaingó” discovered their community’s cancer rate to be 41 times the national average. Rates of neurological problems, respiratory diseases and infant mortality were also astonishingly high.
The group then launched a “Stop the Spraying!” campaign, leading demonstrations and publishing materials warning the community about the dangers of pesticides.
The campaign enjoyed some success and in 2008, Argentina’s president ordered an investigation of the health impacts of pesticides in in Ituzaingó Annex. The resulting official study corroborated their informal door-to-door research. On this evidence the government then ordered a “buffer zone” prohibiting aerial spraying less than 2,500 meters from homes.
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