5/22/2012: Region of Santiago del Estero, April, a summer night in 2010: I saw the courageous people dancing. They danced to their favorite music from their radios. Bare feet swirling dust. Hands find hands. Lights flash through the darkness. I thought that people always change the place in which they dance. They take over this place. A dry lawn can be a ballroom, nine boards can be a stage. I thought that people also change the places in which they work. A barren wasteland can turn into a field. A swamp turns into rich soil.. They put sweat equity into their own homes, which may not be taken from them. Today they dance. Tomorrow they’ll fight.
For over 20 years the peasant and indigenous communities in the region of Santiago del Estero fight against land theft and disenfranchisement. When the big companies steal someone’s land, they all gather together to break down the newly erected fence. If one of them is locked up in jail, their fellow campesinos all come at once, demanding their companiero’s release. The struggle of the campesinos is bearing fruit. Through their perseverance, they have become a force in the country – a powerful force with five voices: five rural radio stations that allow the uncensored exchange of news over the vastness of the country. The radio stations provide a sense of community and of course they also broadcast the music that the campesinos love.
When I saw the brave people dancing, laughing and kissing, I thought to myself about how it is about the same questions, all over the world. Why is the law not on the side of the dancers? Why doesn’t that dance floor belong to those who improvised it? Why do the fields not belong to those who sow them? Why are the banks of the West bursting with the wealth others created?
For over twenty years, the peasants and indigenous peoples of the region of Santiago del Estero not only know the answer to these questions but live that answer on a daily basis. The answer is: There is has never been justice unless it has been fought for. The people in the region of Santiago del Estero have not only changed places, but transformed themselves in their struggle. Out of despondency grew courage. Fear turned into hope. Justice was no longer just a dream, but an endeavor.
The documentary Sachamanta tells a story of the fulfillment of this task. The film will be presented at numerous festivals, distributed on DVD, and shown, last but not least, in Northern Argentina. The trailer can be seen here.